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Two months are in and we’re nearing the 40 percent mark in the 2015 Major League Baseball season. Now would be a good time to check up on Felipe’s Ultimate Baseball Advanced Rankings (or FUBAR for short) to rank all 30 MLB teams.
The last time we used FUBAR for our MLB power rankings, The Dodgers were the best team, the Orioles, Rays, and Diamondbacks were the middle teams, and bringing up the rear were the lowly Brewers.
What is FUBAR?
It’s basically a composite score of where all the MLB teams rank in terms of the criteria being used to compile these rankings. In order to measure the set criteria, we use certain advanced metrics to gauge a team’s real value, despite what the win-loss record might say or what other traditional stats (i.e. ERA, batting average, etc.) tell us.
What “criteria” is being used?
This season, the rankings will be split into six parts:
- Offensive Production
- Plate Discipline
- Base Running
- Starting Pitching
- Relief Pitching
A total of 13 different advanced stats will be used to assess all 30 MLB teams as we try to figure out who are the best, worst, over and underrated teams in baseball.
All stats are courtesy of fangraphs.com and are good through June 7, 2015.
New month, same results: the Los Angeles Dodgers are still the best team in baseball. They have the best-hitting lineup thanks in large part to Adrian Gonzalez (we’ve mentioned his hot start to this season before), who has led the team in Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA–basically, not all hits are created equal), the power has been supplied by rookie Joc Pederson (who should start for the National League All-Stars at center field), and catcher Yasmani Grandal leads the club in terms of plate discipline.
Their pitching is as good as ever, once again led by Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. They finally have a formidable bullpen as three of their relievers are among the top 25 in baseball:
— Felipe M (@pathological_h8) June 2, 2015
That’s Pedro Baez, Yimi Garcia, and Juan Nicasio for those wondering. Top all of this with a really good defense and you have yourself the top-rated ball club in baseball thanks to a complete team effort.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (32-25 Record; Previous Rank: 1)
Strength: The Dodgers have the best offense and bullpen in baseball. The rotation and plate discipline both rank in sixth place, while the defense once again ranks 11th overall.
Weakness: Just like last time, base running has actually gotten worse. But when every ball is getting crushed, there’s no need to do all that pesky running around, right?
2. Toronto Blue Jays (28-30; PR: 6)
Moving up a few spots, the Jays are a surprising team to see here, but a closer look at the numbers show a team that should be better than their record would indicate.
Strength: Their offense ranks second behind the Dodgers, they ranked in the top five in plate discipline, and they have a top 10 bullpen and defense. But most surprising of all, they have the best base running ball club. Josh Donaldson is the best third baseman on the base paths and now with Jose Reyes back from injury, they have real speed to work with as well.
Weakness: The one thing holding back the Jays is their awful starting rotation. Along with the Rockies, Toronto has the worst rotation in baseball. Drew Hutchison rates as the best starter, but the rest of the rotation needs to improve quickly if the Blue Jays have any hope for the playoffs.
3. Cleveland Indians (27-29; PR 11)
We’ve mentioned how the Indians may not be as bad as they appear to be. It helps to have the best rotation in all of baseball:
— Felipe M (@pathological_h8) June 2, 2015
Strength: The rotation, thanks in large part to Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Danny Salazar is a big reason why people should not count out Cleveland. Along with the strong pitching, the Indians also have the best plate discipline in baseball because Michael Brantley and Carlos Santana are walking more than they’re striking out. They possess a top 10 offense and bullpen as well.
Weakness: As always, the defense is holding them back. Michael Bourn and Santana are the biggest culprits as far as the advanced metrics go, but there are others letting this team down.
4. Houston Astros (34-24; PR 2)
Dropping a couple of spots in the rankings, the leaders of the American League West are still a top five team and showing the baseball world they are no fluke.
Strength: This team is all about power. The front office was smart enough to know to take advantage of their home ball park as they are second in Isolated Power (ISO–a stat that measures power). Jed Lowrie leads the team in this stat at .267. Surprisingly, this team takes a lot of walks as Lowrie also leads the team in Walk Percentage (BB%).
Their bullpen, a concern coming into this season, is ranked second overall in baseball with Will Harris ranking 11th overall in our relievers’ rankings.
Weakness: Although the team rates very well in terms of walks, they do strike out a lot, ranking 29th in Strikeout Percentage (K%).
5. New York Yankees (32-25; PR 4)
Strength: Offense has lived up to the lofty expectations and paychecks. Rejuvenated Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira have found ways to turn back the clock to 2010. The Bullpen also rates in the top five as one-two combo of Dellin Betances (the number one reliever in baseball) and Andrew Miller have helped stabilize this group.
Weakness: Defense, defense, defense. Chase Headley, highly dependable with the glove last season, has been terrible in 2015.
The Rest of the Top 10
6. Cincinnati Reds (24-31; PR: 10): The Reds have found a way to move up the rankings somehow. But FUBAR is impressed with their power, plate discipline, base running, and defense. Pitching has been a big problem though.
7. Arizona Diamondbacks (27-29; PR: 16): The D’backs made one of the bigger jumps in FUBAR going from a middle-of-the-road club to a top 10 team. Arizona ranks as the second best base running club in baseball, led by the underrated, A.J. Pollock. They have a respectable unit, but the starting rotation could use more help.
8. St. Louis Cardinals (38-19; PR: 5): Why aren’t the Cardinals ranked higher? Even though they’re a good-hitting team, power is sorely lacking this year. They’re also slow on the base paths, which is hurting them in these rankings. Nevertheless, they have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball.
9. Washington Nationals (30-27; PR: 19): One of the most disappointing teams as they got off to a 10-14 start, they went 20-13 to jump up 10 spots in FUBAR. Offense is led by Bryce Harper, the most electrifying ball player in baseball today. Their starting rotation, led by Max Scherzer is among the best. Defense, however, needs more work.
10. New York Mets (31-27; PR: 7): Dropping three spots, the Mets still don’t have much of an offense to speak of. The pitching staff, from the rotation to the bullpen, is truly elite. Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey are the foundation of the rotation.
The Middle Ten
11. Chicago Cubs (30-25; PR: 8): The young Cubs slipped a bit in these rankings. At one point they had the best rotation in baseball, it now ranks fourth, led by true ace, Jake Arrieta. The bullpen was another strength, but has since dropped to middle-of-the-pack. Although their offense is still respectable, they still strike out too much, currently dead last in K%.
12. Kansas City Royals (31-23; PR: 3): The Royals went from an elite team to dropping eight spots in the rankings. They still possess the best defense in baseball, as Lorenzo Cain has been known to cover a lot of ground in center. Nonetheless, there are a lot of apparent holes on this team, most noticeably their starting rotation ranks among the worst in baseball.
13. Detroit Tigers (30-28; PR: 9): Detroit drops out of the top 10, but they still have a really good-hitting team, led by Miguel Cabrera, and full of guys who recognize the strike zone. They even have a top five defense. But pitching, most noticeably the bullpen has been the team’s biggest flaw.
14. San Francisco Giants (32-26; PR: 23): San Fran made a big jump in our rankings, which can be attributed to owning one of the better offenses in the game, with Brandon Belt stepping up his game to be a more consistent hitter. They also have a top 10 defense, but their pitching has not fully caught up to the offense.
15. Pittsburgh Pirates (31-25; PR: 18): The “Steel City” has one of the best pitching staffs in baseball, which includes an elite starting rotation with Gerrit Cole emerging as the ace of the staff. Unfortunately, their poor plate discipline has made for an inconsistent offense. On the bright side, they arguably have the best outfield in baseball.
16. Oakland Athletics (23-36; PR: 13): Believe it or not, the A’s still have a top 10 offense and starting rotation. The injuries to the bullpen have literally hurt this club, while the defense has been a sore spot.
17. Baltimore Orioles (26-30; PR: 14): This team is all about power, but a lack of discipline has prevented them from being a truly elite offense. Plus their starting rotation is mediocre at best. The defense, however, is as good as ever.
18. Texas Rangers (30-27; PR: 26): One of the best stories in the last month or so, Texas has proven to be one of the better offensive teams and they can run too. Unfortunately, their pitching staff is highly questionable and their defense can be rough to watch.
19. Tampa Bay Rays (31-27; PR: 15): The Rays have some pop, but they have failed to display enough skill to be a consistent group. The bullpen is shaky as well, but a strong rotation, which includes Chris Archer (who made history by striking out 10 hitters without giving up a walk in three consecutive starts) is backed up by a capable defense.
20. Colorado Rockies (25-30; PR: 17): The free-swinging Rockies once again boast one of the best offenses in the majors. Unfortunately, they also have the worst starting rotation in the game (along with Toronto).
The Bottom Ten
21. Miami Marlins (24-33; PR: 20): So strange to see a team with Giancarlo Stanton and Dee Gordon rank among the worst offenses in baseball. Although the rotation is weak, bullpen and defense are actually among the elite.
22. Los Angeles Angels (28-29; PR: 25): Outside of Mike Trout, the Halos don’t have much firepower on offense. However, a collective decent approach at the plate along with some power are signs of hope. The starting rotation, however, is another story.
23. Boston Red Sox (27-31; PR: 12): The BoSox once again rank as one of the most disciplined teams in baseball. Surprisingly, it has not helped them on offense. And when they do get the lead, the bullpen can’t be trusted in the latter stages of the game. This is why Boston has fallen hard in these rankings.
24. Atlanta Braves (27-29; PR: 21): Last season, the Braves’ hitters were racking up strikeouts at a rapid pace. This season, with much restructuring to the roster, they now boast one of the better disciplined teams. Just like the Red Sox, the newfound discipline has not helped on offense. They also have the worst bullpen in baseball.
25. Milwaukee Brewers (20-37; PR: 30): Good news: the Brew Crew are no longer the worst team in MLB. Bad news: their poor approach and their “all-or-nothing” attitude to hitting has caused them to have one of the worst offenses in baseball.
26. Seattle Mariners (25-32; PR: 22): Tied with the White Sox as the worst base running team in the league, the Mariners have also relied too much on their power, as discipline has been sacrificed greatly in order to generate offense. The rotation is the best quality of the team.
27. San Diego Padres (29-29; PR: 24): Despite improvements, the Padres still rank as one of the worst offenses in baseball, although they are a fast team on the base paths. Their defense is just as terrible. Nevertheless, a somewhat steady rotation will keep this team in more games than not.
28. Minnesota Twins (33-23; PR: 29): One of the feel-good stories of the year, the Twins are more of an obfuscation than a reality:
- Offense Rank: 27th
- Plate Discipline: 23rd
- Base Running: 18th
- Starting Rotation: 18th
- Relief Pitching: 28th
- Defense: 22nd
To their credit, they do find ways to win games and it’s really hard to harshly criticize a team with a winning record. In the end, the numbers are the numbers and they describe a vulnerable club.
29. Chicago White Sox (25-30; PR: 27): Then there’s the White Sox: they have the worst offense, base running, defense, and broadcaster in all of baseball. The starting rotation ranks 11th and any climb back towards respectability begins and ends with that unit.
30. Philadelphia Phillies (22-36; PR: 28): The Phillies continue to be a mess, led by an incompetent General Manager in Ruben Amaro, veteran players who have aged terribly, and young players who have not come close to reaching their potential. The team’s best attribute is their defense. It ranks 21st overall.
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