Weekly MLB Power Rankings and Run Element Ratio

It’s our third edition of the Talk Back Fans Major League Baseball Power Rankings. Here we go.

30. Chicago White Sox (10-27, -67 run differential, Last Week: 28)
The White Sox were supposed to turn a corner this year, but have done anything but that. They are dead last in the league in runs scored, 12th in runs allowed, next to last in run differential, next to last in defensive runs saved. Yoan Moncada – the prize of the Chris Sale trade – is currently on the DL. Fortunately there are only two everyday players over 30, so some development should happen before the year is out.

29. Miami Marlins (14-26, -78, LW: 23)
28. Kansas City Royals (13-27, -69, LW: 26)
27. Baltimore Orioles (13-28, -56, LW: 30)
Dylan Bundy had a night to forget on Tuesday (7 BF, 5 H, 7 ER, 5 HR, 2 BB 0.0 IP), but followed that up yesterday with seven strong innings against the Rays. Baseball’s funny that way.

26. Texas Rangers (16-26, -61, LW: 27)
25. San Diego Padres (16-26, -46, LW: 25)
24. Los Angeles Dodgers (16-24, -1, LW: 20)
Things have been rough on the defending NL Champs. Cory Seager and Clayton Kershaw are both on the DL. They are middle of the pack in ERA, even when you consider that their home park is Dodger Stadium. They one who has played the most at second base idolizes Eddie Collins he so old. I’m generally not one to panic in mid-May, but the Dodgers are already eight games behind the Diamondbacks and with Seager out for the looooong term and Kershaw who knows, time might already be running out on the Dodgers. They can’t have another two month run of .800 ball again. Can they?

23. New York Mets (19-18, -14, LW: 21)
22. Toronto Blue Jays (21-20, +5, LW: 17)
21. Cincinnati Reds (14-27, -36, LW: 29)
A six game winning streak while outscoring the defending NL Champs 20-9 in a four game sweep was the first real signs of life the Reds have shown. But the bigger question is this: Why was Bryan Price good enough to manage the team in March, but not good enough to even finish April? I’m not a particular fan of midseason firings unless it is truly warranted (usually for something off the field) because I don’t see what they accomplish. Besides, Price was 276-372 in four seasons with the Reds. His 2016 team set the major league record for most homeruns allowed. The Reds run differential would expect them to win 281 games over that span, so it’s not as if he was adding wins to a terrible team. I mean, if the Reds started the season 15-3 were they giving him a contract extension? I’m guessing no. And all of this was after consecutive playoff appearances, including a 97-win campaign. So if the guys wasn’t good enough to manage your club through April, why was he there at the beginning of April? Hard to believe that this once proud franchise hasn’t won a pennant in nearly 30 years.

20. Tampa Bay Rays (16-22, -23, LW: 11)
19. Detroit Tigers (17-22, -10, LW: 24)
18. Oakland Athletics (19-21, -16, LW: 16)
17. San Francisco Giants (20-21, -28, LW: 9)
Not a good week through the Keystone State, losing six straight to the Phillies and Pirates before salvaging yesterday’s finale. The idea of going with aging veterans to support an already aging lineup hasn’t gone as well as they may have hoped, but it would have been difficult to envision otherwise. Evan Longoria (32 years old) is posting a .263 OBP, Hunter Pence (a 35-year old holdover) has only had 61 plate appearances and a marvelous 8 OPS+, and Austin Jackson has a 65 OPS+. Only Andrew McCutchen’s .373 OBP has been a helpful addition to perennial All-Star Buster Posey (121 OPS+) and Brandon Belt (146 OPS+). Even Brandon Crawford, a very good player just two years ago, is only putting up an 88 OPS+. And with Johnny Cueto out the remaining starters have combined for an ERA of 4.97. Bruce Bochy may well be heading to Cooperstown with his three World Series championships, but his days may also be numbered by the Bay.

16. Minnesota Twins (17-19, -17, LW: 22)
15. Cleveland Indians (20-19, +20, LW: 19)
14. Colorado Rockies (22-19, -20, LW: 14)
The Rockies are 2-6 in games decided by five or more runs, which explains a lot of the -20 run differential (they are +9 in the other 33 games). Their biggest concern, though, should be the 7-11 record they’ve posted so far at home, especially since that ballpark should be their biggest advantage. But they have only managed a split of six games against the lowly Padres at Coors Field.

13. Arizona Diamondbacks (24-16, +28, LW: 4)
12. Los Angeles Angels (24-16, +34, LW: 8)
11. Seattle Mariners (22-17, +3, LW: 13)
10. St. Louis Cardinals (22-16, +21, LW: 5)
9. Milwaukee Brewers (24-17, +1, LW: 10)
8. Pittsburgh Pirates (23-17, +23, LW: 18)
7. Philadelphia Phillies (23-16, +39, LW: 15)
This team has some young players who are performing well in the early going especially from a team that just a year ago was 30 games below .500. Odubel Herrera is building off of three straight solid seasons, hitting .360/.430/.561 (171 OPS+). Rhys Hoskins, who posted a 163 OPS+ in just 212 plate appearances last season, has posted a 144 OPS+ in 162 PA’s. Maikel Franco, who has had 103 extra base hits over the previous two seasons, already has 13 of them (though it would be nice to see his plate discipline improve – doubtful – because a .311 OBP is only useful if he continues to slug .500 or so). But you know what has really made this Phillies team fun? Gabe Kapler!!!!

On Opening Day Kapler pulled Aaron Nola after just 68 pitches even though they were leading the Braves 5-0 and – again – it was Opening Day. The bullpen promptly blew the game, 8-5. In the second game of the season he pulled starter Nick Pivetta after four innings. Yes, he wasn’t nearly as effective as Nola was the game before, but Kapler then made Tony La Russa proud. Kapler paraded out nine relievers in an 11-inning win. Batters faced by each reliever (in order): 2, 2, 1, 3, 3, 5, 3, 9. Remember that ALCS game where Bauer’s finger would stop bleeding? Here are the batters faced by each reliever in that game: 5, 5, 4, 7, 6, 5. AND THAT WAS A PLAYOFF GAME!!!! NOT THE SECOND GAME OF THE SEASON!!! He followed that up in game three with another gem. This time Vince Velasquez could only go 2.2 innings (he really did pitch poorly), Kapler brought in Hoby Milner for the third straight game. Milner wasn’t even warming up in the bullpen. Umpire Jerry Layne was concerned for Milner’s health (because clearly his manager wasn’t), and decided to give Milner more time to warm up than the rules allow. Needless to say Brian Snitker was not happy about this. The Braves beat up the already worn out Phillies bullpen to the tune of eight runs in a 15-2 rout. Afterwards he took the blame and said the Phillies would make the playoffs. AND WE’RE JUST THREE GAMES INTO THE SEASON!!!

Kapler manages every game like it is Game 7 of the World Series. In other words, don’t be surprised if this team is burned out by the All-Star Break. I we here at Talk Back Fans thought we were going to miss Dusty Baker!!!

6. Chicago Cubs (21-16, +54, LW: 12)
5. Atlanta Braves (24-15, +56, LW: 7)
4. Boston Red Sox (28-12, +67, LW: 2)
3. Washington Nationals (24-18, +35, LW: 6)
2. Houston Astros (26-16, +91, LW: 3)
1. New York Yankees (28-12, +65, LW: 1)

Ok, so today’s TBF Stat is an interesting one I learned from Dave Fleming called Run Element Ratio. This isn’t a stat to evaluate how good a player is, rather what kind of a player they are. RER is simply:

(Stolen Bases + Walks) / (Total Bases – Hits)

With this number the idea is to figure out if a hitter is more the type to start a rally or cap one off; the higher the number the more likely a player is to start. Let’s use a couple of obvious examples. Dave Kingman had 85 career stolen bases and 608 walks while compiling 3191 total bases on 1575 hits:

(85 + 608) / (3191 – 1575) = 693 / 1616 = .429

Kingman obviously was going to be a capper. He swung for the fences, didn’t draw a ton of walks, couldn’t really run, so naturally he would be a low score here. How about the opposite end? Brett Butler was clearly not a power hitter. He was one of the best leadoff hitters of the 80’s and 90’s, and the numbers here show that:

(558 + 1129) / (3076 – 2375) = 1687 / 701 = 2.407

Again, this is measuring what type of a hitter one is, not whether they are good or better or neither or both. In other words, I’m not saying that Cincinnati’s Billy Hamilton is a good hitter or a bad hitter. What I’m saying is that his RER of 2.000 shows that he’s more likely to begin a rally than cap one off (please not I’m not saying “kill a rally”; that could be anyone). I’m also not saying that Pittsburgh’s Corey Dickerson is a good or bad hitter. What I’m saying is that his .379 RER tells me that he’s not going to start a rally nearly as often as he will cap one off.

More fun next week!!

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