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Max Scherzer
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Max Scherzer
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The baseball world was rocked when the Los Angeles Angels swept the Oakland Athletics this past weekend. Despite Oakland’s efforts to improve their starting rotation, the A’s have seen a dip in production in this area. More concerning is the fact that Oakland sent out their best starters to match up against the Angels’ best starters, and still were dominated over the weekend. After chasing down Oakland all summer long, Anaheim looks to have full control of their playoff destiny.

However, despite the Angels’ success, they were not the best team in the month of August according to Felipe’s Ultimate Baseball Advanced Rankings (or FUBAR for short). Reverting back to a small sample size, we will be taking a look at Major League Baseball during the month of August. The small sample size will help evaluate teams who made big acquisitions via trades. For a basis of comparison, we compare this month’s rankings with July’s FUBAR rankings. But first, let’s highlight the best teams in each aspect of the game.

BEST HITTING PROWESS (based on Weighted On Base Average or wOBA for short)

RANK

TEAM COMMENT
1 Baltimore Orioles

Led the league in home runs with 47 for the month of August

2

Minnesota Twins Scored 20 runs, in one game, against the Tigers
3 San Francisco Giants

Led league in batting average (.288) last month.

 

BEST BASE RUNNING (based on advanced base running metrics)

RANK TEAM

COMMENT

1

Kansas City Royals Led by Lorenzo Cain
2 Washington Nationals

Denard Span tied for team lead in steals

 

BEST PLATE DISCIPLINE (based on Walks:Strikeout (BB:K))

RANK TEAM

COMMENT

1

St. Louis Cardinals Matt Carpenter flirted with a 2:1 BB:K
2 San Diego Padres

Acquiring Yangervis Solarte has helped the Pads here

 

BEST OVERALL OFFENSE

RANK TEAM

COMMENT

1

Minnesota Twins The one category the Twins can be proud of
2 Nationals

Jayson Werth played like a man possessed last month

And now for the pitching staffs:

BEST STARTING ROTATION

RANK TEAM

COMMENT

T-1

Detroit Tigers Max Scherzer has been superb
T-1 Cleveland Indians

Corey Kluber has been just as good

 

BEST BULLPEN

RANK

TEAM COMMENT
1 Miami Marlins

This team has refused to die all year long

2 Seattle Mariners

Yoervis Medina might be a name worth remembering

And here are the teams flashing the best leather:

BEST DEFENSE

RANK TEAM

COMMENT

1 Orioles

Still own the best double play duo

T-2

Cincinnati Reds Zack Cozart has been valuable on defense
T-2 Cardinals

Jhonny Peralta has been a great free agent signing

And a very quick look at the worst from each category:

  • Worst Offense: Chicago White Sox
  • Worst Starting Rotation: Colorado Rockies and Boston Red Sox
  • Worst Bullpen: Minnesota Twins
  • Worst Defense: Cleveland Indians

TOP OVERALL TEAMS

1. Orioles–Though the large sample-sized rankings do not think much of the O’s, this is the second consecutive month where they rank in the top 10:

Orioles Ranks

Offense

Rotation Bullpen Defense
18 10 4

1

As mentioned before, their bullpen and defense might carry them far, but with their offense finally getting into gear and their rotation being surprisingly in the top 10, Baltimore is starting to unravel as a legit title contender.

Key Series–The O’s first big test in the month of September will be against the Tampa Bay Rays:

September 5-7, 2014

TEAMS (Rnk) OFFENSE ROTATION BULLPEN

DEFENSE

Orioles (1)

18 10 4 1
Rays (5) 13 4 6

20

Baltimore has been crushing the ball and will look to continue their hot streak, though they run into an elite pitching staff in Tampa. The Rays have the better plate discipline and base running, but have been let down by their defense. Really tough to bet against the Rays’ rotation, but the Orioles are the hotter team at the moment and should be able to take the series.

2. Athletics–Despite their struggles last month, their defense was the one saving grace in helping them attain such a high spot in our rankings.

Key Series–The A’s return home to take on another tough, divisional foe:

September 1-3, 2014

TEAMS OFFENSE ROTATION BULLPEN

DEFENSE

Mariners (T-3)

T-11 13 2 T-10
A’s (2) T-6 14 12

4

The AL West has been the toughest division to be in 2014. Contrary to popular belief, the A’s still have a good offense, however, their high ranking is based on their base running and aided heavily by a strong plate discipline. They’re going to need that skill going against the likes of Felix Hernandez and the second best bullpen in baseball. They’re also going to need to find a way to get out of their current hitting slump. People will cite the absence of Yoenis Cespedes, but the A’s should have plenty to at least win their series against Seattle.

T-3. Royals–A lot of doubters are waiting for the Royals to implode and cede the AL Central to Detroit. They’ll have a chance to prove their worth against another tough opponent:

September 5-7, 2014

TEAMS OFFENSE ROTATION BULLPEN

DEFENSE

Royals (T-3)

3 11 13 T-5
Yankees (6) T-15 3 8

21

The Royals have been on a tear on offense (top 10 in wOBA in August) and it will be very interesting to see how they fare against the third best rotation in baseball. The Yankees’ pitching staff looks good, but the bullpen seems to get the job done with more guile than dominance. Look to see the Royals take advantage of the Yanks’ porous defense.

The rest of the top 10 looks like this:

TOP 10 OF AUGUST-2014

Rank Team Points Win Loss Run Diff

July Rank

1

Orioles 60 19 9 48 9
2 Athletics 66 12 17 -11

5

T-3

Royals 68 19 9 20 22
T-3 Mariners 68 17 10 43

5

5

Rays 69 13 16 19 1
6 Yankees 72 15 13 3

16

7

Nationals 75 19 10 40 4
8 Padres 76 16 11 9

8

9

Diamondbacks 81 9 18 -29 14
10 Marlins 88 13 14 -7

23

Middle of the pack clubs are as follows:

MIDDLE 10 OF AUGUST-2014

Rank Team Points Win Loss Run Diff

July Rank

11

Angels 89 19 10 28 1
12 Dodgers 93 15 13 -1

13

13

Cardinals 100 16 13 -9 18
T-14 Indians 102 17 9 20

14

T-14

Reds 102 12 17 -2 11
16 Giants 104 16 12 40

12

T-17

Pirates 115 14 14 12 24
T-17 Cubs 115 16 14 -9

20

T-17

Mets 115 12 17 -27 3
20 Braves 117 14 14 6

5

The following should prove to be some of the more interesting match-ups this week.

September 1-3, 2014

TEAMS OFFENSE ROTATION BULLPEN

DEFENSE

Pirates (17)

T-13 12 T-18 T-18
Cardinals (13) 5 27 T-20

T-2

The congested NL Central is about to get tighter if the Pirates find a way to exploit a fledgling pitching staff. With all the talent, it is shocking to see the Cardinals rate this low. Though the Pirates are middle of the pack on offense in August, they were sixth in wOBA. But Pittsburgh’s pitching staff have had some struggles of their own and their defense can be suspect. That is why the Cards should be able to out-slug Pittsburgh in this match-up.

The next series also involves St. Louis:

September 5-7, 2014

TEAMS OFFENSE ROTATION BULLPEN

DEFENSE

Cardinals (13)

5 27 T-20 T-2
Brewers (24) 8 16 T-27

T-15

The Brewers had a tough week in California last week, getting frustrated by San Diego and then getting embarrassed in San Francisco. They’ll be happy to face a struggling pitching staff, although their own pitching staff is having issues of their own. When in doubt, defense can prove to be the tie-breaker in this series, giving the edge to the Cards.

Speaking of California:

September 1-3, 2014

TEAMS OFFENSE ROTATION BULLPEN

DEFENSE

Nationals (7)

2 7 11 14
Dodgers (12) T-6 5 T-15

T-18

This should prove to be a fun series to watch. The Dodgers bullpen and defense have seen their struggles, but their offense and rotation, where most of their top-dollar talent play, have been carrying this club through much of the season. The second game of this series will pit Doug Fister against 2014, consensus Cy Young pick, Clayton Kershaw. But if the first game is any indication, Washington’s offense should help the Nats prevail in this series, despite having to face Kershaw.

We finally take a look at the rest of the clubs:

BOTTOM 10 OF AUGUST-2014

Rank Team Points Win Loss Run Diff

July Rank

21

Phillies 120 14 13 -2 26
22 Tigers 125 16 15 -5

28

23

Astros 129 15 14 6 29
24 Brewers 132 13 14 -14

17

25

Red Sox 134 12 16 -17 9
26 Blue Jays 137 9 17 -46

21

27

Rangers 159 10 18 -15 30
T-28 Rockies 161 10 18 -31

24

T-28

Twins 161 11 18 -4 19
30 White Sox 182 9 19 -65

27

Everything seems to be copacetic. White Sox and Blue Jays’ fans can’t be too mad as both of their clubs had the worst run differentials last month. Brewers’ fans should be concerned because their team has been shockingly dipping in performance. And of course, FUBAR has been hating on the Detroit Tigers since the very beginning so seeing them this low is not surprising. But they do have a chance to redeem themselves:

September 5-7, 2014

TEAMS OFFENSE ROTATION BULLPEN

DEFENSE

Giants (16)

T-9 6 17 17
Tigers (22) 4 T-1 29

29

Currently, Detroit is facing off against Cleveland, but the Giants are closer to Detroit in terms of these rankings so we will spotlight this match-up. Just like the Dodgers, the big-money talent for Motor City is in the rotation and in the everyday hitting lineup and those phases came up huge in August. Unfortunately, the bullpen and defense was putrid as always. The Giants are not world-beaters in the latter phases either, but they have been on a roll, winning seven of their last eight games. And scheduled to start in this series is big, nasty, lefty Madison Bumgarner, who pretty much shut down a just-as-potent Milwaukee offense last week. Nevertheless, the Giants have been one of the more impatient teams in the last month and the Tigers proved to have a well-balanced offense in that same stretch. That might be enough to frustrate a pretty good Giants’ rotation and help Detroit take the series.

Stats courtesy of fangraphs.com, mlb.com, and espn.com.

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