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 (22-49, -136, LW: 29)
#29 Baltimore Orioles (20-50, -113, LW: 30)
#28 Chicago White Sox (24-46, -85, LW: 26)
#27 Texas Rangers (29-44, -78, LW: 25)
#26 Colorado Rockies (34-37, -44, LW: 23)
#25 Cincinnati Reds (26-45, -67, LW: 28)
#24 Miami Marlins (29-43, -103, LW: 27)
#23 New York Mets (32-36, -36, LW: 21)
#22 Tampa Bay Rays (33-38, -13, LW: 20)
#21 Pittsburgh Pirates (35-36, +2, LW: 24)
#20 San Francisco Giants (34-38, -35, LW: 15)
#19 Toronto Blue Jays (33-38, -22, LW: 22)
#18 Oakland Athletics (36-36, -6, LW: 14)
A’s first baseman Matt Olson was a supplementary pick in the 2012 draft as compensation for losing David DeJesus after he posted a .698 OPS in 506 plate appearances for Oakland. Last year in 216 plate appearances Olson posted a 1.003 OPS and gave the A’s enough reason to allow Yonder Alonso to leave. This season at 24 years old he’s posting a .753 OPS in 291 PA’s for the A’s and already has 14 homers. If not for their division Oakland would probably be a bigger player in the playoff race, but with young guys like this developing it’s only a matter of time before they once again become contenders.
#17 Philadelphia Phillies (37-32, +7, LW: 19)
#16 Minnesota Twins (31-37, -8, LW: 17)
#15 San Diego Padres (34-40, -45, LW: 16)
The Padres have created a bit of a dilemma for themselves. A couple of decent months combined with Arizona’s May struggles and the Dodgers’ injury woes have them six and a half back of first. And while a playoff run would be great for the wonderful people of San Diego the truth is that they really need an overhaul. Eric Hosmer is a fine player (and has been the team’s best hitter this season) but signing a 28-year old first baseman isn’t exactly a strong step towards rebuilding. They also traded 22-year old Enyel De Los Santos, a righty currently striking out 9.3 batters per nine for Lehigh Valley of the Phillies farm system, for 28-year old Freddy Galvis (career 78 OPS+). Moves like these are just going to stymie the Padres chances for building until they figure out what they are doing down on the farm.
#14 St. Louis Cardinals (37-32, +12, LW: 12)
#13 Los Angeles Angels (38-34, +30, LW: 11)
#12 Washington Nationals (37-31, +46, LW: 7)
After the 2008 season Ryan Zimmerman signed an 11-year, $135 million deal with the Nationals (which also includes a team option worth $18 million with a two million dollar buyout in 2020). At the time it seemed like a very good deal: He was just turning 24 years old and in the first year of the deal he made his first All-Star team, hitting .292/.364/.525 in 157 games for the Nats. Unfortunately that has been the only time he’s played 150 games since signing the deal. Since 2010 he’s been good (.275/.340/.473, 117 OPS+), but the injury bug has been rough. After watching his slugging percentage drop all the way down to .370 in 2016 (and in only 115 games) and a position change from one corner to the other, he rebounded last year with his best season since 2009, hitting .303/.358/.573 (136 OPS+). This season though he is once again found himself on the DL, this time with a strained oblique. He’s been there since May 12, and it wasn’t exactly going great for him, hitting .217/.280/.409 before the injury. A strong May got the Nats back into the NL East picture, but they need Zimmerman back healthy as well as Trea Turner to return closer to his 2016 form if Washington is going to overtake those young Braves for the East crown.
#11 Detroit Tigers (36-37, -23, LW: 18)
After the 2015 season the Tigers signed the 32 year old Miguel Cabrera to an eight year, $240 million deal, signing the slugger for basically the rest of his career. In 2015 he led the AL in OBP for the fourth time and won his fourth batting title in five years. Last season in 529 plate appearances he plummeted to .249/.329/.399 – the first time in his amazing career his OPS+ dropped below 100. This year he only had three homers before going on the DL to end his season. After this season he’s still owed $154 million (plus two $30 million vesting options should he finish in the top ten in the MVP voting in 2023 and 2024). Should Miggy come back next season even remotely healthy he should move into the top 50 in hits, the top 30 in homers, and the top 25 in RBI. He’s most likely a first ballot Hall of Famer. But if you’re running the Detroit Tigers, and aging slugger is not helping you in the long term. Add in that you only have one player getting regular time under the age of 25 and the road back could be a long one in the Motor City.
#10 Cleveland Indians (37-33, +28, LW: 8)
#9 Milwaukee Brewers (42-29, +49, LW: 9)
#8 Arizona Diamondbacks (39-32, +45, LW: 10)
#7 Atlanta Braves (42-29, +67, LW: 13)
#6 Chicago Cubs (40-28, +95, LW: 3)
#5 New York Yankees (44-23, +90, LW: 6)
#4 Los Angeles Dodgers (37-33, +56, LW: 5)
#3 Seattle Mariners (46-26, +22, LW: 4)
#2 Boston Red Sox (49-24, +108, LW: 2)
Last season saw Mookie Betts take a step backwards, recording the lowest OPS of his young career. Most of this was due to a particularly unlucky .268 batting average on balls in play. This year it is at .327. Besides that he has had a big power surge. He’s already got 38 extra base hits and could easily beat his career high. His slugging percentage is 165 points higher than previous best, and is also looking at a career high walk rate and OBP. Two years ago he finished second in the MVP voting, and if Mike Trout wasn’t in the AL he’d be the favorite to win it this year.
#1 Houston Astros (48-25, +157, LW: 1)
Today’s TBF Stat of the Week is actually a mix of three different stats. Those three are Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA). This comes out like batting average or OBP or slugging percentage. What it does is gives weight to particular events that get a hitter on base. The formula:
((.69 x unintentional walks) + (.72 x HBP) + (.89 x 1B) + (1.27 x 2B) + (1.62 x 3B) + (2.10 x HR)) / (AB + (BB – IBB) + SF + HBP)
To put it into perspective, around .320 is the league average wOBA. Mike Trout’s career wOBA is .416, which is excellent. If you look at Aurelio Rodriguez – who just might be the worst hitter to ever get 7,000 plate appearances – has a career wOBA of .282.
Now bear with me. The next stat is called Weighted Runs Above Average (wRAA), which is derived from wOBA. It is simply the difference between a player’s wOBA and the league wOBA, divided by a scale which is based on the league average OBP. For a sense of perspective, a wRAA of 10 is above average, 20 is great, 40 is Mike Trout range, and 0 is average.
Third and final is Weighted Runs Created (wRC+), which is a stat that factors in league and ballpark effects. Not to get too much into the formula (I figured I’ve bugged you enough with formulas today) but when you factor in wRAA when compared to league norms and park effects, you get a number where 100 is average. Using the previous two examples, Mike Trout has a career wRC+ of 172, meaning he’s has created about 72% more runs than an average hitter while Aurelio Rodriguez’s wRC+ of 73 means that he created about 27% fewer runs than an average hitter of his day.
I’m bringing these up because the more I write about hitters the more you’ll be seeing stats like these and less of batting average. Til next week, here are the current top 10 in wOBA and wRC+
Mike Trout, .469
Mookie Betts, .461
J.D. Martinez, .427
Freddie Freeman, .423
Jose Ramirez, .414
Aaron Judge, .406
Eugenio Suarez, .401
Matt Kemp, .401
Nolan Arenado, .401
Brandon Belt, .399
Mike Trout, 209
Mookie Betts, 196
J.D. Martinez, 173
Freddie Freeman, 171
Jose Ramirez, 165
Aaron Judge, 161
Matt Kemp, 159
Brandon Belt, 158
Eugenio Suarez, 154
Eddie Rosario, 152