Time for another installment of the Talk Back Fans Major League Baseball Power Rankings. Another week, and another group of movers and shakers.
#30 Kansas City Royals (23-54, -151, LW: 30)
The 2015 champs have now lost 18 of their last 21, being outscored 117-45 over that stretch. They are dead last in the American League in runs, slugging, wRC+, and OPS, and next to last in homeruns. The pitching has been every bit as bad, ranking dead last in ERA+ and FIP. It has been a team effort, too. The lineup features six regulars with an OPS+ below 100 and every one of their starters has an ERA+ below one. It has gotten to the point where they have taken their young reliever Brad Keller and put him in the starting rotation, which has been mixed at best: 4 GS, 18.2 IP, 3.38 ERA. Dayton Moore and Ned Yost have their hands full as they are now in full rebuild mode.
#29 Baltimore Orioles (23-53, -113, LW: 29)
#28 Chicago White Sox (26-51, -105, LW: 28)
#27 New York Mets (31-44, -49, LW: 21)
#26 Pittsburgh Pirates (36-41, -13, LW: 20)
Corey Dickerson was acquired from Tampa Bay for Tristan Gray, Daniel Hudson and cash and many Bucs fans expected him to be a contributor. While he has been decent (115 OPS+, 112 wRC+) one has to wonder about his declining walk rate. As a rookie he had a 7.5% walk rate. By 2016 it was down to 6% and this season is at a measly 4%. He has cut his strikeout rate in half, down to 12.2%, but it has also cost him power (Isolated Power is down 58 points from last year and nearly 70 points below his career number). For a team that has to get younger this was not the wisest of moves.
#25 Miami Marlins (32-46, -113, LW: 24)
#24 San Diego Padres (35-45, -57, LW: 13)
#23 Detroit Tigers (36-42, -52, LW: 12)
#22 Colorado Rockies (38-40, -47, LW: 27)
Bryan Shaw pitched 358.2 innings of relief for the Indians in five seasons and was rather effective. He posted a 137 ERA+ and a 3.45 FIP while pitching practically every other day (he led the league in appearances in three of those five seasons and in 2015 was second). This offseason he signed a three year, $25 million deal with the Rockies as Jeff Bridich and Bud Black attempted to solidify their bullpen in an effort to make another playoff push. To say it’s been disastrous would be saying the Hindenburg had a little bit of landing trouble. Black has continued to send Shaw out there a league leading 41 times and Shaw has pitched a grand total of 35.2 innings with a 62 ERA+, a 5.79 FIP, 5.0 BB/9, a 1.96 WHIP, and has allowed 10 of the 20 runners he’s inherited to score. He has given up a run 25 of his 41 appearances and in three others he allowed an inherited runner to score, though he wasn’t charged with a run. Pitching in Denver has always been a challenge but if the Rockies are going to make some noise again this season Shaw will have to regain the form he had in Cleveland.
#21 Texas Rangers (34-45, -63, LW: 26)
#20 Minnesota Twins (34-40, -16, LW: 17)
#19 Toronto Blue Jays (36-41, -28, LW: 19)
Teoscar Hernandez was signed out of the Dominican Republic as an 18-year old by the Houston Astros in 2011. Right away he showed good power, slugging .487 in rookie ball. He got a brief cup of coffee with the Astros in 2016 and slugged .420 in 112 plate apperances. At the trade deadline last year, Houston sent him to Toronto with Norichika Aoki in exchange for Francisco Liriano. While Liriano is now in Detroit, Hernandez is getting regular playing time for the Jays. He goes by the old saying that Dominican players “don’t walk off the island”, drawing only 31 walks in 462 career plate appearances, but the power is clear, with 35 extra base hits in 255 PA’s with a 128 wRC+. The Blue Jays have some decisions to make in the offseason, most notably the 32-year old Josh Donaldson (currently injured), but it looks like they just might have their left fielder for the next few years.
#18 Washington Nationals (40-35, +35, LW: 11)
#17 Tampa Bay Rays (37-40, -11, LW: 23)
#16 St. Louis Cardinals (40-36, +9, LW: 16)
#15 Los Angeles Angels (41-37, +28, LW: 14)
#14 Cincinnati Reds (32-45, -43, LW: 25)
#13 Oakland Athletics (40-38, +5, LW: 18)
#12 San Francisco Giants (40-39, -24, LW: 22)
#11 Chicago Cubs (42-33, +81, LW: 5)
#10 Philadelphia Phillies (41-33, +20, LW: 15)
#9 Seattle Mariners (47-31, +10, LW: 3)
#8 Milwaukee Brewers (45-32, +51, LW: 9)
#7 Atlanta Braves (44-32, +72, LW: 8)
#6 Los Angeles Dodgers (41-35, +61, LW: 4)
#5 Arizona Diamondbacks (44-33, +62, LW: 7)
#4 Boston Red Sox (52-27, +112, LW: 3)
#3 Cleveland Indians (43-33, +70, LW: 10)
#2 New York Yankees (50-25, +100, LW: 6)
Didi Gregorius sound like the name of a roller coaster at Cedar Point, which is appropriate because his season has been just that. Last season he entered as a good glove/no hit shortstop to be pretty much a stop gap between Derek Jeter and the next Derek Jeter. He ended up smacking 25 homers and actually got some MVP consideration. Then this season he opened up red hot, posting a 1.156 OPS and a 201 wRC+ through the end of April. Then the calendar turned to May. It started well enough, going 5-13 with a pair of doubles the first three days. But then four for his next 68. His wRC+ for May was -1. Well, he’s started to climb back to respectability, putting up a 133 wRC+ in June. The Yankees already have no problem scoring runs but if Gregorius is hitting they become that much more lethal.
#1 Houston Astros (52-27, +169, LW: 1)
This week’s TBF Stat is Game Score. You will hear us on the show mention this stat when discussing how the starting pitching is performing, so it makes sense to at least explain it to everyone. Game Score was devised by Bill James many years ago with the goal being to get a single number to sum up a performance by looking at the basic box score. It is simply:
Plus 1 point for every out recorded (3 points per inning)
Plus 2 points for every inning completed after the fourth inning
Minus 2 points for every hit given up
Minus 4 points for every earned run given up
Minus 2 points for every unearned run given up
Minus 1 point for every walk issued
Plus one point for every strikeout recorded
Let’s use a couple of games for examples. On Sunday, June 24, 2018, the Indians beat the Tigers 12-2. Cleveland starter Adam Plutko went six innings, giving up six hits, two runs (both earned), no walks, and four strikeouts. So his Game Score:
Plus 18 outs recorded
Plus 4 for two innings completed
Minus 12 for six hits
Minus 8 for two earned runs
Minus 0 for no unearned runs
Minus 0 walks
Plus 4 strikeouts
On September 9, 1965, Sandy Koufax threw his perfect game against the Chicago Cubs (where the Dodgers famously only managed one hit off of Bob Hendley). Koufax’s Game Score:
And Game Score can be very bad as well. On May 11, 1982 Jerry Augustine of the Milwaukee Brewers started against the Kansas City Royals. Let’s just say that it didn’t go well. He lasted only five innings and gave up 12 runs. His score:
It can happen to anyone. On April 23, 1988 Steve Carlton in the last game of his career was given a start by the Minnesota Twins. He faced the Indians and couldn’t get out of the sixth, giving up nine runs (eight earned) in a rather un-glorious ending to an otherwise stellar career:
One more, just because I haven’t used partial innings yet. On May 6 of this year Max Scherzer went 6.1 innings against the Phillies. His score:
Plus 4 (because there were only two completed innings; the third doesn’t count here)
It’s simple enough to figure out, and the league average is generally around 50. You will also hear us refer to it as the THS, or Terry Heil Scale. Terry likes the concept of Game Score, but likes the idea of a plus-minus scale a little better for his frame of reference. It’s simple: Just take the pitcher’s Game Score and subtract 50 from it (the original starting point). So the other night when Shane Bieber tossed a 77 score against the Tigers, we also consider it a +27, while Josh Tomlin’s struggles led to an average Game Score of 37, or a -13 on the THS.
‘Til next week . . .