Power Rankings and the Earl of Baltimore

Time for another week of the Talk Back Fans MLB Power Rankings.  Next week is the All-Star break and the trade deadline is coming as well, so let’s see where the teams are positioned now.

 

#30 Kansas City Royals (25-64, -186, LW:  30)

#29 Baltimore Orioles (24-64, -135, LW:  29)

#28 Chicago White Sox (30-60, -125, LW:  27)

Yoan Moncada was the big prize in the Chris Sale trade right before last season.  Unfortunately he hasn’t lived up to expectations yet.  He’s posting a lowly .296 OBP while striking out a league leading 125 times coming into Sunday.  This while he’s had a .339 BABIP.  His slow development along with a frankly gawd awful pitching staff (82 ERA+) is why the Pale Hose are on a pace to lose 108 games.

 

#27 New York Mets (35-51, -65, LW:  28)

#26 San Diego Padres (39-53, -85, LW:  25)

#25 Detroit Tigers (40-52, -56, LW:  26)

#24 Pittsburgh Pirates (41-48, -39, LW:  20)

#23 Miami Marlins (37-55, -118, LW:  23)

#22 Minnesota Twins (38-48, -30, LW:  24)

#21 Toronto Blue Jays (41-48, -41, LW:  17)

#20 Washington Nationals (45-44, +30, LW:  22)

#19 Los Angeles Angels (46-45, +14, LW:  19)

How can a team with one of the five best shortstops in the league and the best player on the planet be hovering around .500?  Well, Martin Maldonado (31 years old, 86 OPS+), Albert Pujols (38, 86), Ian Kinsler (36, 81), Luis Valbuena (32, 69), Kole Calhoun (30, 34), Zack Cozart (32, 83), and Chris Young (34, 69) have accumulated 1,817 of the team’s 3,431 plate appearances through Saturday.  That can hamper a lineup rather effortlessly.

 

#18 Texas Rangers (40-51, -51, LW:  16)

Shin-Soo Choo turns 36 this week.  Acquired by the Indians for Eduardo Perez, he’s always been a good doubles hitter who would draw walks and this year he is putting together one of the best seasons of his career with a .402 OBP and a .394 secondary average.  The Rangers will be sellers this month, so don’t be surprised to see Choo on the move before the calendar turns to August.

 

#17 St. Louis Cardinals (46-43, +15, LW:  17)

#16 San Francisco Giants (47-45, -27, LW:  11)

#15 Cincinnati Reds (39-51, -34, LW:  15)

#14 Atlanta Braves (50-39, +68, LW:  5)

#13 Colorado Rockies (46-44, -27, LW:  19)

#12 Tampa Bay Rays (45-44, +12, LW:  13)

#11 Arizona Diamondbacks (50-41, +62, LW:  10)

#10 Los Angeles Dodgers (48-41, +74, LW:  7)

Two amazing stories are emerging from the Dodgers this season.  First, in 2011 Matt Kemp led the National League in runs scored, homers, RBI, OPS+, and total bases, finishing second in the MVP voting.  After the season he signed an 8-year, $160 million deal with the Dodgers.  Injuries over the next two seasons limited him to 179 games and just 3.4 bWAR (he had 8.0 bWAR in 2011).  While not being bad, he’s never gotten back to those 2011 heights.  He was sent to the Padres (the Dodgers ate $18 million of that year’s salary), then to the Braves.  This past offseason he was reacquired by the Dodgers and it has been amazing.  He’s posting a 143 OPS+ for LA, this while the team has finally righted the ship and is back in the thick of the NL West race.  Then comes Max Muncy.  Now, there have been plenty of stories written about him this week, but this is one I’m loving.  Yes, he’s the fastest Dodger to 20 homeruns in a season, but this is even better:  17 of his 20 have come with the bases empty.  So far his 20 homeruns have driven in 20 runs.  Here in Cleveland Brook Jacoby hit 32 homeruns in 1987 that drove in 37 runs (27 solo shots, five 2-run shots).  In fact, his 25 career homeruns drove in 30 runs.  Don’t believe me?  Look here. These are fun little facts I love.

 

#9 Oakland Athletics (50-40, +17, LW:  9)

#8 Philadelphia Phillies (49-38, +20, LW:  15)

#7 Seattle Mariners (57-34, +17, LW:  4)

#6 Milwaukee Brewers (54-36, +60, LW:  12)

#5 Cleveland Indians (49-39, +72, LW:  6)

#4 Chicago Cubs (51-36, +105, LW:  8)

#3 New York Yankees (58-29, +116, LW:  3)

#2 Boston Red Sox (62-29, +149, LW:  2)

#1 Houston Astros (61-31, +188, LW:  1)

 

This week’s TBF Stat is one Danny Boyce made up called the Earl Weaver Score.  The EWS is a simple stat that I came up with over the last couple of years because the game is so power oriented.  I wanted to see how the three big power stats effect team success.  About 20 years ago Rob Neyer came up with what he called the Beane Count after Billy Beane.  It was simply the team’s ranking in homers and walks for hitters and for pitchers.  I took it a step further and factored in strikeouts, but instead of looking at the rankings I looked at the differences.  The formula is simple:

 

EWS = (BB – BBA) + (HR – HRA) + (SOA – SO)

 

Now, Earl’s teams were never big strikeout teams from the rotation side, but his teams outwalked their opponents in each of his 14 full season (1969-82) and outhomered them in 13 of the 14.  I just added the strikeouts for good measure (if anyone has a better name for it, I’m all ears).  During those 14 seasons the Orioles averaged 97 wins and averaged a +74 on the EWS.  The rise in strikeouts has drastically changed how the score can be perceived from a total, but it is pretty clear that a positive EWS correlates well with team success.  Going back to 1913 (when we have complete strikeout data for hitters in both leagues) the top 40 teams in EWS averaged 93 wins.  Of the 89 100+ win teams 85 of them had a positive EWS, 78 of them were better than +100.

 

It’s not meant to be some stat to stand the test of time, it’s just something Danny likes to tinker with and we have found that if we keep him tinkering he doesn’t annoy us with cartoons.  One last tidbit:  Last year all eight teams that reached the Division Series were the top eight teams in EWS:

 

Indians +708

Astros +539

Red Sox +435

Dodgers +413

Yankees +335

Nationals +203

Dbacks +137

Cubs +135

 

‘Til next week . . .

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