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Dog Days of FUBAR: Using Advanced Stats To Update MLB Rankings

Felipe Melecio offers a new twist on MLB rankings with “Felipe’s Ultimate Baseball Advanced Rankings.”

Clayton Kershaw
Clayton Kershaw

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

September baseball is just around the corner and there’s still plenty left to be decided in this wild and crazy Major League Baseball season. Now would be a good time to see where every team stands in Felipe’s Ultimate Baseball Advanced Rankings (or FUBAR for short) as we go back to using a larger sample size and look at the year-to-date stats. There’s a lot to cover here so let us play ball!

BEST OVERALL OFFENSE

  1. The surging Tampa Bay Rays and the surprising Pittsburgh Pirates are tied for first in our overall offensive metric. Both teams rank in the top five in plate discipline.
  2. Los Angeles Dodgers and Cleveland Indians are tied for second.

WORST OVERALL OFFENSE

  1. The offensive woes for the Seattle Mariners continue into August.
  2. Injuries, as mentioned before, have crippled the Cincinnati Reds in the second half of the season.

Kudos to the San Diego Padres for digging out of last place int his category. They are currently tied for 26th in overall offense.

BEST STARTING ROTATION

  1. The Washington Nationals are still carrying the momentum from last month as the top rotation in baseball.
  2. As long as Clayton Kershaw is pitching, the Los Angeles Dodgers should continue to be an elite rotation.

WORST STARTING ROTATION

  1. As always, the Colorado Rockies’ pitching staff has let them down once again.
  2. Without Yu Darvish, the Texas Rangers’ pitching staff is beyond hopeless.

BEST BULLPEN

  1. How do you combat a poor offense? By equipping the best bullpen in baseball. At least that’s what the Mariners are trying to do as they cling on to their playoff hopes.
  2. The Atlanta Braves own one of the best bullpens in baseball, but tying them for second, despite the departure of Huston Street, the Padres have proven to be more than capable out of the ‘pen.

WORST BULLPEN

  1. Lots of things went wrong for the Chicago White Sox this season. The bullpen is one of them.
  2. And just for good measure, the Rockies’ bullpen is slightly better than their rotation. That’s not saying much.

BEST DEFENSE

  1. The Baltimore Orioles may not have an overpowering offense or pitching staff, but their defense is what’s kept them in this playoff race as they own the best double-play duo in MLB.
  2. In what could be the ultimate example of a stalemate, the Reds’ elite defense counter-balances their terrible offense.

WORST DEFENSE

  1. A recurring story throughout the season, the Cleveland Indians once again own the worst defense in baseball.
  2. Not one to leave their Midwest brethren by their lonesome, the Detroit Tigers’ defense is also pretty bad.

Changing up the format here, we will compare FUBAR’s rankings with those of Tony Consiglio’s (TC) MLB Rankings for Week 21 as we take a closer look at the biggest differences between both rankings.

HUNTING FOR OCTOBER

Armed with a 61-63 record, TC mentions how the Rays clawed their way back to an even .500 record after being down almost 20 games at one point of the season. Despite the current surge, Consiglio has the Rays ranked 19th overall. On the other hand, FUBAR likes everything about the Rays except their defense, helping them capture the number three spot in the numbers-driven rankings’ system.

The San Diego Padres are ranked 20th overall in Consiglio’s rankings, but FUBAR has them fifth overall. If one were to look solely at the numbers, one would confuse the Padres with the Atlanta Braves or Seattle Mariners. The Padres bats got off to such a slow start this season, that they dug themselves a big hole in terms of win-loss record. But as mentioned all season long, with a bit of offense, the Padres could be a legit wildcard team. Unfortunately, it might be too late for that theory to materialize.

Other discrepancies between both rankings’ systems:

  • Braves are ranked sixth in FUBAR, but 15th in TC’s rankings–The Braves continue to puzzle, but armed with a great pitching staff and defense, they might have what it takes to fight to the very end of the season.
  • Indians are ranked seventh in FUBAR, but 16th in TC’s rankings–The Indians have been winning plenty of games lately, but it’s still not good enough to move up much in the TC rankings. If their defense wasn’t so bad, we might be talking about a team with a much better record.

The rest of the top 10 looks like this:

  1. Oakland Athletics–Though TC has the Los Angeles Angels in his top spot, the A’s are still a statistically better team than the Angels, though the A’s starting rotation has been ironically dipping despite their efforts to revamp it.
  2. Washington Nationals
  3. Tampa Bay Rays
  4. L.A. Dodgers
  5. San Diego Padres
  6. Atlanta Braves
  7. Cleveland Indians
  8. L.A. Angels–In reality, the Angels and A’s will be going back-and-forth for the AL West division, but in the meantime, FUBAR doesn’t think the Halos’ offense and defense is as good as Oakland’s.
  9. Kansas City Royals–Way back in our May rankings, we predicted that the Royals, at that time donning a 20-21 record, would pick up the role of “Cinderella” for the rest of the MLB season. Proud to say that this particular prediction has come to fruition.
  10. New York Yankees–It is simply amazing to see this team continue to stay in our top 10 despite injuries and question marks littering their roster. Plus having a crippled Derek Jeter playing at shortstop should be hurting this team, yet they are still competing for a playoff spot.

ON THE CROSSROADS

The Arizona Diamondbacks are an interesting team here as we take a look at the middle-tier teams. Consiglio has the D’backs ranked 25th, but FUBAR likes them enough for 18th. Consiglio had mentioned that the pitching staff has carried the club recently. But for the year, Arizona ranks middle of the pack in all four phases of the game despite their 53-71 record.

As we get ready to declare a new champion in 2014, the Red Sox are finally seeing their descent in the FUBAR rankings. Though TC has them ranked 23rd, the BoSox are not going down without a fight in FUBAR as they still have a top 10 defense and bullpen, thanks to the efforts of Andrew Miller and Koji Uehara.

Here are what rankings 11-20 look like at this juncture of the season:

  1. St. Louis Cardinals
  2. Seattle Mariners–Making it a very interesting AL West, but Seattle is the most vulnerable of the three teams competing for the divisional crown
  3. Milwaukee Brewers–Once at the very top of FUBAR, their starting rotation has self-destructed, while the offense and defense has become inconsistent. Yet, they are one of five teams with 70 wins.
  4. Miami Marlins–It’s so much fun watching Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton play.
  5. San Francisco Giants–Pitching is the saving grace, but the offense is sinking fast.
  6. Pittsburgh Pirates
  7. Boston Red Sox
  8. Arizona Diamondbacks
  9. Cincinnati Reds
  10. New York Mets

AT THE BOTTOM

There are three teams that deserve most of our focus here. The final 10 teams are as follows:

  1. Chicago Cubs–Javier Baez has shown just a tiny glimpse of what the future might look like for this team.
  2. Baltimore Orioles–Despite the elite defense, the Orioles really don’t stand out in any of the other four phases, though they did show some success in the bullpen last month. One must ask themselves the following: “Does Baltimore’s rotation match up well against the rotations of other elite teams?” The answer is “no.”
  3. Detroit Tigers–Thanks to a talented batting lineup and starting rotation, the Tigers have been at the top of many people’s rankings and are considered a true champion contender. However, as mentioned before, their defense has been brutal, and their bullpen, beginning with hot-headJoe Nathan, has this team looking more like a fluke than a World Series contender.
  4. Minnesota Twins–Super phenom Byron Buxton was involved in a terrible collision in the outfield recently. He is now out for the season.
  5. Toronto Blue Jays–Way back in June, the Jays were 14 games over .500. The story was the same back then as it is now: the offense is great (thanks to Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion); everything else on this team is putrid.
  6. Philadelphia Phillies–How does Ruben Amaro Jr. still have a job again?
  7. Colorado Rockies
  8. Houston Astros
  9. Texas Rangers
  10. Chicago White Sox

All stats courtesy of fangraphs.com and are good through August 17, 2014.

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