Power Rankings (AL & NL) 7.20.13

20 July Power Rankings Update (NL)

Shorter blurb, but new rankings will be including the AL for the first time, with a very brief discussion of the change in rankings (among the NL teams at least, AL will have to wait for next time).

The Elite

  1. 1.       Oakland Bears (Preseason: 3, Last Week: 1, Current NL Rank: 1, Change: None)
    Record: 64-23  Expected Win %: .698

Record since last update: 13-9

The Bears finally prove to be human, with a .590 winning percentage in their last 22 games.  Granted, if they had that record for the season, they would still be the #2 team in the NL, but at least it would be close.  Also, while .590 is still very impressive, it’s not nearly as overwhelming as the .785 record they had prior to the last power rankings.

  1. 2.       Florida Falcons (Preseason: 1, Last Week: 2, Current NL Rank: 2, Change: None)
    Record: 53-34  Expected Win %: .658

Record since last update:  13-9

Florida just keeps trucking along.  They’re not quite playing the tortoise since they’ve certainly been impressive, but they are hoping that steady does win the race.  Suffering a slight dip in win % since the last update despite a slight increase in expected win %, the Falcons are steady as ever and look poised to continue this pace.  They’re unlikely to catch the Bears, but the real test between these two should come in the playoffs.

  1. 3.       Helena Moose (Current AL Rank: 1, Change: N/A)
    Record: 57-30  Expected Win %: .639

Record since last update: N/A

Helena represents the current class of the AL, though there are quite a few teams having excellent seasons.  Despite having a better record than the Falcons, Helena slots in just behind them due to Florida’s superior expected win %, and in mild deference to the defending World Series Champs.  Once more Power Rankings are released with AL teams and it’s easier to get an understanding of how hot any given team is, they’ll be a real threat to move past Florida.

  1. 4.       Monterrey Carta Blanca Burros (Current AL Rank: 2, Change: N/A)
    Record: 54-33  Expected Win %: .627

Record since last update: N/A

Monterrey plays in a heavy hitter’s park (+1,+1,0,+2,+2) and has still somehow rode their pitching staff to an elite record.  By allowing only 344 runs thus far, they rank 4th overall (behind the Bears and Falcons, both ranked ahead of them, and the NY Bronx Bombers) behind 3 teams that all play in pitcher’s parks.  This is made even more impressive not only by the park, but also by playing in the AL where they have to face designated hitters rather than the pitchers of the NL.

 

  1. 5.       Scranton Storm (Current AL Rank: 3, Change: N/A)
    Record: 51-36  Expected Win %: .585

Record since last update: N/A

Scranton’s title hopes are powered by their offense.  They’ve had a decent performance by their pitching staff, allowing almost exactly the number of runs of the average AL team.  Despite this, they’ve managed to be one of the best teams in the league simply by outscoring everyone (besides Rochester, who hasn’t had the level of pitching that Scranton has had.  If the pitching can pick up just a little, Scranton could easily become the best team in the entire AL.

The Contenders

  1. 6.       NY Bronx Bombers (Current AL Rank: 4, Change: N/A)
    Record: 52-35  Expected Win %: .589

Record since last update: N/A

The Bronx Bombers are one of those teams who allow even fewer runs than the Carta Blanca Burros.  Their 320 runs allowed is second to only Oakland.  Unfortunately, they are also the only team in the AL to score loss than 400 runs thus far into the season (9 of the 16 NL teams have failed to reach that mark, but are lacking the designated hitter, as previously mentioned).  The Bombers record and even their expected win percentage screams elite, but until they can produce respectable results at the plate, this is not an elite team.

  1. 7.       Colorado Springs Bad News (Current AL Rank: 5, Change: N/A)
    Record: 52-35  Expected Win %: .529

Record since last update: N/A

The Colorado Springs Bad News are a near direct copy of the Bronx Bombers.  They have the same record and the same weaknesses.  The pitching hasn’t been nearly as good, allowing 19% more runs, but then again Colorado Springs profiles as a neutral park as opposed to the pitcher’s haven the NY Bronx Bombers play in.  The neutrality of that park makes the 404 runs scored by the Bad News (2nd worst in the AL) all the more concerning and keeps them from serious consideration as an elite team.  Additionally the Bad News’ stellar record has been compiled while taking advantage of a league-leading 48 home games where C-Springs plays .667 ball (32-16) as opposed to .513 on the road.

  1. 8.       Rochester Morning Wood (Current AL Rank: 6, Change: N/A)
    Record: 46-41  Expected Win %: .582

Record since last update: N/A

Enough of teams that can’t score.  Rochester leads everyone (AL and NL) in scoring, and along with Scranton is one of only two teams to score over 500 runs thus far.  The pitching has been mediocre (for the AL at least, the same results would be considered terrible in the NL) but not terrible, and Rochester, more even than perhaps the two teams above them, looks poised to contend the entire season.  Six games is a lot to make up, but if Rochester can close that gap even a little, they may jump to #4 in the AL, and #6 overall.

  1. 9.       Cleveland Rockers (Preseason: 5, Last Week: 5, Current NL Rank: 3, Change: +2)
    Record: 47-40  Expected Win %: .511

Record since last update: 12-10

Cleveland continues to move up.  Since a terrible start they’ve been as hot as anyone over the last 45 games.  The gap between them and the elite seems to be large, but considering the way they are playing lately, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them move up to that level.  Places 3 through 5 are so close here that any single game could be enough to rearrange the order.

  1. 10.   Philadelphia Flyers (Preseason: 7, Last Week: 4, Current NL Rank: 4, Change: None)
    Record: 48-39  Expected Win %: .532

Record since last update: 11-11

Last week, it looked as is Philly might bump up to #3 in the NL.  They’d been struggling, but nowhere near as much as Richmond (ranked above them at that time).  As it turns out, both teams continued their struggles, and the Flyers stay in the #4 spot despite passing Richmond.  The Flyers have proven to be competent, if not overwhelming and it’s hard to imagine them ever leaving this tier in either direction.  Their steady rise up the NL ranks has more to do with other teams proving unworthy of these positions.  Similarly the Flyers are poised to be a contender if either elite team slips up.

  1. 11.   Anaheim Empire (Preseason: 10, Last Week: 6, Current NL Rank: 5, Change: +1)
    Record: 48-39  Expected Win %: .520

Record since last update: 11-11

By week the Empire have placed 10th, 7th, 6th, and now 5th in the (NL) power rankings.  The absurd record in 1 run games and extra innings is still there, but those games are in the books, and the teams around them have really fallen off.  Beyond that, even with a relatively poor record in their last 22, Anaheim has raised their expected win % another 30 points (.489 to .520).  They’re still ranked below where their record would suggest, but it’s tough to imagine them moving up any further.  Of course, that’s been said multiple times before.  Maybe it’s time to stop doubting the Empire.

The Dark Horses

  1. 12.   Oklahoma City Rough Neckers (Preseason: 4, Last Week: 8, Current NL Rank: 6, Change: +2)
    Record: 44-43  Expected Win %: .553

Record since last update: 12-10

The Rough Neckers have been all over the place, coming in at 4th, 5th, 8th, and now 6th in the NL ranks.  If the season ended today, they’d be out of the playoffs, despite having the 6th best NL record, and 3rd best expected winning percentage.  Over the last 22 games though (and particularly since ‘firing’ their manager to hire Lazarus – a raise-from-the-dead specialist) Oklahoma City has done enough to stand as the leading dark horse.  If they can maintain, they should be reappearing in the ranks of the contenders very soon.

  1. 13.   Richmond Firehouse (Preseason: 2, Last Week: 3, Current NL Rank: 7, Change: -4)
    Record: 44-43  Expected Win %: .524

Record since last update:  8-13

In the span immediately before the last power rankings, Richmond went 11-12, but stayed in 3rd largely due to their excellent track record.  At this point, it appears that was a mistake, since that poor performance was a sign of things to come.  Richmond has been even worse in the last 22, during which time their expected win % has dropped fully 50 points (.575 to .525), which indicates they are not only losing, but losing badly.  At this point they don’t have the appearance of a true contender, though they should still back into the playoffs due to their weak division.  It’s no longer a sure thing though.

  1. 14.   Jacksonville Sharks (Current AL Rank: 7, Change: N/A)
    Record: 43-44  Expected Win %: .524

Record since last update:  8-13

The placement of the #7 NL team at #14 seems perfectly reasonable and seems to indicate an equality between the two leagues.  However, considering that the #6 AL team came in at 8 overall, the better indication is of a league divided.  Jacksonville has a fine team, albeit a bit weak at the plate.  In the NL they would be in contention for a wild card spot and in one division, only 1 game out from the lead.  Here they are already 11 games back in the division and chasing the last wild card spot, currently held by a potential juggernaut in Rochester.

The Mediocre

  1. 15.   Kansas City Primetimers (Current AL Rank: 8, Change: N/A)
    Record: 41-46  Expected Win %: .510

Record since last update:  N/A

The Primetimers are currently an enigma.  At 41-46 they’ve got a lot of ground to make up, but they are the last team ranked that has managed to outscore their opponents.  They’ve had slight issues in 1 run games and extra innings, but nothing absurd, so it seems likely they’ve won a lot of games in blowouts.  For now they get the benefit of the doubt and lead the mediocre tier.  As we get to know this team better they should be moving either up or down very quickly.

  1. 16.   Minnesota Bald Eagles (Current AL Rank: 9, Change: N/A)
    Record: 42-45  Expected Win %: .498

Record since last update:  N/A

Minnesota has allowed the 4th most runs in the entire ML, partly as a result of playing in a mild hitter’s park.  The results suggest they may want to move elsewhere.  Not simply because they allow so many runs.  That can be OK when it’s understood that they score nearly as many.  However the Bald Eagles are 17-25 (.404) at home, and 25-20 (.556) on the road, suggesting either a lineup poorly designed for the park or ballplayers much too familiar with the hot nightlife locations near their home stadium.  Considering they play in Minnesota, rather than LA, NY or Miami, the former seems most likely.

  1. 17.   San Juan Marauders (Preseason: 11, Last Week: 10, Current NL Rank: 8, Change: +2)
    Record: 41-46  Expected Win %: .482

Record since last update: 12-10

The Marauders take advantage of the weak performances of teams around them and swing into the upper half of the NL power rankings, coming in at #8 in the NL and 17 overall.  That ranking is more a testament to the mediocrity of the NL than to their performance, but San Juan has done their part.  A winning record (albeit barely) over the last 22 games, and a continual increase in expected win percentage (now up to .482 from .454) indicate that this team could become a dark horse, especially with Richmond struggling.  Of course, before the ASB, they still have a series with the Bears, so this may all be negated within the next day or two.

  1. 18.   Mexico City Guapo Taco (Current AL Rank: 10, Change: N/A)
    Record: 42-45  Expected Win %: .469

Record since last update: N/A

Mexico City is perfectly average in almost every regard.  The pitching is average, whether you look just at runs scored or the peripherals such as ERA, WHIP, OAV etc.  The hitters are average, both in runs scored as well as peripherals.  Even the fielding percentages are right near the league average.  Really the biggest boast the Mexico City can make statistically is that they are pretty good at taking walks, ranking 3rd overall in that category.  Really the only defining fact about the Guapo Taco is their age, as Mexico City has one of the oldest and most experienced rosters in the league.  Given the very average results, it may be time to let the kids play.

  1. 19.   Vancouver Rush (Current AL Rank: 11, Change: N/A)
    Record: 41-46  Expected Win %: .462

Record since last update: 12-10

At 19 overall, and the third consecutive city outside the US, Vancouver will almost certainly take offense at being ranked behind Kansas City despite playing in the same division and being a game ahead in the standings.  Allowing almost a full extra run per game will result in that though.  Vancouver is one of 5 teams to allow over 500 runs.  4 of those teams are considered to be among the worst in baseball (the dregs) and another is knocking on the door.  Playing in a perfectly neutral park, the Rush have no excuses, and really have more in common with the Trailblazers (ranked 25th overall and 13th in the AL) than they do with the contenders in either league.

  1. 20.   Baltimore Slammers (Current AL Rank: 12, Change: N/A)
    Record: 41-46  Expected Win %: .482

Record since last update: 12-10

Baltimore has the exact same record as the Marauders.  Even more, the two teams have the exact same expected win percentage, both with a very similar mix of offense to defense.  So why is San Juan at 17 and Baltimore at 20?  Or how does Kansas City rank at 15 with the same record and only a mildly better expected win %?  Because the rankings are that close at this point.  Having followed the NL longer, it’s evident that San Juan is on a mildly upward trajectory, whereas all we know about Baltimore is their 4-6 record in the last 10.  The recent path and a few points of expected win percentage are enough to separate the teams within this tier, so it would not be surprising to see further movement here.

  1. 21.   Tampa Bay Twink Bois (Preseason: 13, Last Week: 11, Current NL Rank: 9, Change: +2)
    Record: 42-45  Expected Win %: .462

Record since last update: 12-10

Again Tampa Bay and San Juan remain tied at the hip, both in W/L record, as well as NL power rank.  Neither really deserve to be so high within the NL hierarchy, and yet here they are.  Both have slowly increased their expected and real win %, but remain firmly below .500 in both categories.  Due to Richmond’s struggles, both have an outside shot at taking the division and entering the playoff picture.  It seems likely that until one of the two owners makes some sort of move (either adding an ML asset – particularly pitching – or selling ML talent for prospects) that these two teams will remain joined, and on the outside of the playoff race.

  1. 22.   Atlanta TomTerrifics (Preseason: 8, Last Week: 9, Current NL Rank: 10, Change: -1)
    Record: 40-47  Expected Win %: .475

Record since last update: 8-14

The TomTerrifics have a worse record than the Suds Buckets, as well as a worse expected win %.  They have less talent, and were ranked lower in the last NL power rankings.  With both teams going 8-14 over their last 22, how does Atlanta jump over St Louis?  The answer is the schedule.  Playing a murderer’s row that includes series with the Bears, Falcons, AL-leading Moose, and resurgent Rockers (twice!) 8-14 is perfectly respectable.  In doing so while only losing a small amount of expected win %, the TomTerrifics have shown the ability to compete with (and ultimately repeatedly lose to) the best teams.  Competitiveness alone isn’t enough, but it’s better than the teams below them.

The Legitimately Bad

  1. 23.   Boise Blues (Preseason: 12, Last Week: 12, Current NL Rank: 11, Change: +1)
    Record: 38-49  Expected Win %: .447

Record since last update: 12-10

Boise has followed up a 13-10 week by going 12-10 in their last 22, and despite their record are strong contenders to move up even further.  Considering that 10 of these 12 wins came against the Punishment, the Monsters, and the Suds Buckets however, even two straight impressive weeks won’t get them higher than 11th in the NL.  Sweeping the Suds will have them jumping St Louis though.  The inclusion of the AL teams leads to a need for a split in the ranks of the mediocre so Boise will also kick off a new tier, leading it by virtue of their ability to at least consistently win against lesser opponents.

  1. 24.   St Louis Suds Buckets (Preseason: 6, Last Week: 7, Current NL Rank: 12, Change: -5)
    Record: 41-46  Expected Win %: .491

Record since last update: 8-14

In the last three power rankings the Suds Buckets have gone quickly from contenders, to dark horses, to mediocre.  The talent is there and they may be able to move beyond this level, but at 8-14 in their last 22 (despite playing a schedule filled with the Anchors, Blues and similarly struggling Firehouse), St Louis has simply fallen apart.  The near 65 point drop in expected win percentage (.554 to .491) is unprecedented this far into the season and the Suds need to turn things around right now.  For a team predicted to be a playoff contender, things are getting very ugly in a hurry.

  1. 25.   Trenton Trailblazers (Current AL Rank: 13, Change: N/A)
    Record: 39-48  Expected Win %: .456

Record since last update: N/A

Trenton operates under the caveman theory of baseball – Inflict more damage, more quickly than your opponent and forget about any sort of defense.  That equation has worked to a limited degree.  They’ve done an extraordinary job of forgetting about defense and have allowed more runs than any other team, giving up an absurd 6.3 runs per game.  The idea of massive offense has also worked, as they are 3rd overall in runs scored.  They just haven’t been able to outhit their defense and pitching and as a result have a losing record.

  1. 26.   Montreal Expos (Current AL Rank: 14, Change: N/A)
    Record: 38-49  Expected Win %: .451

Record since last update: N/A

Montreal has been slightly below average, whether it is pitching or hitting being considered.  Combine these and they appear to be one of the worst team in the majors.  And for now they are.  Montreal has only 3 players international players on their 25 man roster, tied for fewest in the league.  They have a number of young potential stars (or even superstars in the case of SS Benny Herzner), but the depth is lacking.  SS Gerald Erving will help, but other than that there are no immediate impact players in the minors.  A couple of useful international players could have made all the difference for a team like this.

  1. 27.   Norfolk Waves (Preseason: 14, Last Week: 15, Current NL Rank: 13, Change: +1)
    Record: 37-50  Expected Win %: .457

Record since last update: 12-9

Where have the Waves come from?  In their first 42 games, they averaged 3.0 runs per game.  In the 44 since then they’ve managed to score 4.68 per game, a pace which equals Philly for #5 in the NL.  In the same time span they’ve raised their expected win % nearly 65 points (from .394 to .457).  Expected win percentage is one of those things that is much easier to raise when it is low, but the Waves look like they may be for real.  They’ve dug themselves a deep hole, but they’re no longer an embarrassment, and have firmly entrenched themselves among the (lowest) ranks of the mediocre.  If this improvement was merely the result of a whirlwind 9 game winning streak they’ll drop back down, but it looks at this point as if they may be able to climb instead.

The Dregs (sponsored by the NL North)

  1. 28.   Pawtucket Anchors (Preseason: 15, Last Week: 13, Current NL Rank: 14, Change: -1)
    Record: 38-49  Expected Win %: .397

Record since last update: 10-12

The Anchors started hot (or relatively so in the weak NL North).  Then two weeks ago they went 7-16 while losing 40+ points off their expected win percentage.  Faced with the opportunity/assignment of proving they weren’t as bad as that week made them look, Pawtucket has followed up with a 10-12 record while losing another nearly incomprehensible 50 points off of their expected win %.  It’s as if the entire NL North is playing for last and the Anchors just got the message later than the rest.  Even with this performance, they remain #14 in the NL due to the impressively disastrous efforts of the Monsters and Punishment behind them.

  1. 29.   Huntington Moonshiners (Current AL Rank: 15, Change: None)
    Record: 35-52  Expected Win %: .397

Record since last update: 10-12

Previous readers of this blog have seen mentions of the Moonshiners in the past, even when it was an NL only ranking.  The Moonshiners have been an instant boon to opposing offenses, allowing the 2nd most runs of any team in the majors, while scoring only 428 runs, an average number overall and slightly subpar for the AL.  Even if they somehow miraculously managed to fix their pitching, this team would still not be able to contend.  They just aren’t very good.

  1. 30.   Toledo Mud Hens (Current AL Rank: 16, Change: None)
    Record: 32-55  Expected Win %: .452

Record since last update: N/A

One of these things is not like the other.  Every other team considered to be in this tier – the Dregs – has an expected win percentage below .400.  While a .452 expected win percentage is nothing to brag about, it puts them closer to the Boise Blues (ranked 23), the Montreal Expos (ranked 26) or even the Bald Eagles (all the way up at 16) than to the rest of the teams in this tier.  A 5-16 record in one run games is partly to blame, but at some point wins matter and Toledo only has 32 of them.  That fact alone overpowers any other argument and puts them squarely in the dregs.

  1. 31.   Milwaukee Monsters (Preseason: 9, Last Week: 14, Current NL Rank: 15, Change: -1)
    Record: 31-56  Expected Win %: .323

Record since last update: 4-18

To go 4-18 is no small feat.  That’s a .182 winning percentage.  Two weeks ago was bad, but compared to this, 7-16 is the golden age of Milwaukee Monsters baseball.  That of course ignores the 20-17 record they had at one point.  Since that time and the trade of Bert Hiatt, Milwaukee has gone 11-39, a .220 winning percentage.  That’s a bit of an arbitrary endpoint and makes the Monsters look even worse than they are, if that is somehow possible.  They’ve reached the point where they could easily be slotted behind the Punishment.

  1. 32.   Dover Punishment (Preseason: 16, Last Week: 16, Current NL Rank: 16, Change: None)
    Record: 30-57  Expected Win %: .308

Record since last update: 7-15

As bad as Milwaukee has been, all Dover would need to do to move out of this last spot would be to continue playing at the abysmal level they’d been managing to this point.  In defense of their cellar-dweller status, the Punishment proceeded to play even worse over these last 22 games.  They may not be able to hold off Milwaukee for long and the return from the All-Star Break will open with a highly anticipated series between the two; a Battle for the Basement.  Win that series and Dover will likely be ranked as something other than #16 in the NL for the first time all year, and honestly if it weren’t for that upcoming opportunity there’s a chance they’d be ahead even now.

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