It has been an eventful stretch in baseball since the last time we released our rankings. And just like the weather, things are heating up. But FUBAR (stands for Felipe’s Ultimate Baseball Advanced Rankings) does not care about petty, unwritten rules, best starts to a season since Kim Campbell was the Prime Minister of Canada, bench clearing brawls, or certain over-the-hill ballplayers that have no business participating in the upcoming All-Star Game. All FUBAR cares about is production and performance on the field.
To recap, FUBAR uses advanced statistics to rank all 30 Major League Baseball teams. Unlike a lot of the sports establishments’ MLB rankings, FUBAR does not take into account wins and losses. Rather, the focus is more on offensive production, pitching efficiency, and defense. It is the belief that these components, put together, accurately does a better job of evaluating each team’s performance as opposed to solely depending on team record. FUBAR does not take into account intangibles, future team transactions, veteran presence, or other intangibles, such as momentum or TWTW.
As always, we bring in a guest MLB Power Ranking. This week, in honor of the Chicago, CBS radio affiliate (WBBM-AM 780) winning the rights to broadcast Chicago Cubs’ baseball away from the stranglehold of WGN (AM 720), we bring in CBS Sports’ rankings, which are good as of June 4, 2014.
After roughly 60 games into the season, here’s a snapshot of the best teams in each category:
- Best Offensive Team: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim; Toronto Blue Jays and Los Angeles Dodgers are tied for second.
- Best Starting Rotation: Washington Nationals, though the Atlanta Braves have been at the top for most of the season, they are now in second.
- Best Bullpen: Braves; Oakland Athletics are a distant second as they have overcome the Jim Johnson fiasco from earlier in the season. The San Diego Padres are also tied for second.
- Best Defense: Colorado Rockies being at the top is a huge surprise. The Cincinnati Reds are not too far behind either.
- Most Wins: Bay Area reigns supreme in this category with the San Francisco Giants and A’s racking up the most wins, respectively. Let’s not forget the surprising Blue Jays are tied with the A’s for second.
During that same time span, here are the worst MLB teams in each category:
- Worst Offensive Team: San Diego Padres with fellow west coast team, the Seattle Mariners in second.
- Worst Starting Rotation: After a promising start, the Rockies are back in a familiar spot in this category. The Minnesota Twins have also made a case for worst in the league, but Phil Hughes keeps them from being atrocious.
- Worst Bullpen: Chicago White Sox tops this list, with the Tampa Bay Rays just ahead of them for the penultimate spot.
- Worst Defense: The Cleveland Indians have held down the fort in this category for almost the entire year. The aging Philadelphia Phillies are ranked as second worst.
- Most Losses: The 1998 expansion teams are having a rough go this season: D’backs and Rays.
Most Improved Teams
The Washington Nationals have had a roller coaster of a season, but they climbed 11 spots this week and are currently fourth in FUBAR. But the most surprising team in these rankings are the Chicago Cubs. More details to come.
Free Fall Without a Parachute
We predicted that the Miami Marlins would begin to fall in these rankings with the injury to Jose Fernandez. They are now in 12th place in FUBAR. However, the team that has fallen the fastest (and causing our Editor to lose his hair) are the Detroit Tigers as their early season struggles are back in the forefront.
We’re switching it up a bit as we arrange the rankings based on division standings. All stats are good through June 6, 2014 and are courtesy of fangraphs.com.
The Yankees fell out of the top ten (as predicted last time), but are still three spots ahead of the Red Sox. The big controversy comes with the next three teams listed. CBS has the Rays as a bottom-feeding team, but FUBAR likes their pitching staff a lot better than the Jays (despite being in first place in the division)’ or O’s staff. Plus the Rays are not too far off from the Jays’ offensive production. Where the Rays struggle is in the bullpen, but Toronto or Baltimore have struggled out of the pen as well. The bad bullpen combined with a disappointing defense and the Rays are looking to fall lower in these rankings soon. The Yankees have the worst defense in this division, but are holding their own in the other categories, including on offense, despite the notion that they miss Robinson Cano.
The Tigers have the most wins in the division and probably have the most talent on paper. But FUBAR does not care about any papers. The Tigers are alarmingly falling in a lot of categories. They’re middle of the pack on offense, starting rotation, and bullpen, while the defense looks terrible. Matter of fact, four of the five teams in this division rank as having the worst defenses in baseball. The Royals, however, have excelled in this aspect of the game. They also do enough on offense and their bullpen has been solid. The rotation is a mess however. The Indians, on the other hand, have the best rotation in the division. Meanwhile, despite the .500 record, and holding on tight without their two best players (Chris Sale and Jose Abreu), the White Sox still rank poorly in pitching and defense and that’s causing them to now be the worst team in baseball.
No surprises here as the Athletics are dominating this division. Personally, I opine the A’s to be the best team in all of baseball, but FUBAR does not care about my opinions. Go figure. At any rate, the Angels are still holding steady in the top 10, but clearly, their bad bullpen causes much fluctuation on this team. Congratulations on the Astros for being out of the cellar for the first time this season. They have won nine of their last 12 games and move up two spots in our rankings. Even CBS Sports doesn’t think they’re the worst team in baseball anymore. Once again, the Rangers are proving to be a one-dimensional team as the offense is the only thing worth mentioning on this team. Meanwhile, the Mariners’ relief corps has been surprisingly good so far, but as a whole, the M’s are nearing that dreaded 30th spot in our rankings.
Once again, the Braves sit at the very top of Major League Baseball. The offense has been struggling for most of the season, but it’s all about dominant pitching and defense with this team. The Nationals have been inconsistent all season long, but might be finally figuring out their niche. Their offense is improving and they have Ryan Zimmerman back. Marlins are still fighting despite their circumstances. They have a really solid ball club, but their bullpen might prevent them from being truly great. Perhaps that is why Henderson Alvarez goes out of his way to finish his games. The difference between the Mets and Phillies is that they Mets have a slightly better offense and much better defense. Plus the Phillies have to deal with Ruben Amaro: the worst General Manager in baseball.
Everything looks copacetic–until you see that the Cubs are in third place in the division and ninth overall in FUBAR. Why are they ranked so high? Despite the lack of offense (which still ranks near the bottom of the league), the starting pitching has been splendid, the bullpen has done enough to be respectable, and the defense ranks in the top half of the league. Meanwhile, the Cardinals are also struggling on offense, but the rotation is as good as the Cubs’ (tied for first in the division), and their bullpen will take this team places. The Brew Crew also have a top-notch bullpen and their defense is back near the top 10. Meanwhile, on offense, they are in stable condition despite the poor plate discipline. Reds have a better rotation and defense than the Pirates.
It’s looking like a two-horse race out west with the Giants and Dodgers looking like they’ll be going down the wire. The win-loss records don’t indicate this, but the tale of the tape shows the Dodgers having a better offense. Giants have a much better bullpen. While both teams’ rotation are among the elite in the game. Both teams could be better on defense. Just like the Cubs, the Padres’ have great pitching and enough defense to survive. However, the offense has been terrible all season long. In Colorado, the Rockies continue to display terrible pitching and their offense and defense can’t cover that ground. The Diamondbacks have improved their play lately as their bullpen keeps them somewhat respectable.
Finally, we leave you with this: The 2014 All-Star Game is coming up and the voting period ends less than a month from now. Please vote responsibly.