The 2020 Major League Baseball season is unlike any other previously experienced in roughly a century-and-a-half of organized play. The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic first caused spring training to be shut down back in March, then the season to be delayed by four months.

Things finally kicked off in late July following a lengthy negotiation between MLB and the player’s union and a two-week ‘summer camp’ practice period. Even then, the virus continued to take its toll. Outbreaks involving both the Miami Marlins and Saint Louis Cardinals forced numerous postponements and a re-working of the schedule.

Games are being played in mostly empty ballparks, with only the two teams involved, some ballpark staff, and necessary TV/radio broadcast crews and media members in attendance. Face masks have joined bats, balls, and gloves as necessary equipment. Social distancing and other agreed-upon restrictions of activities are being (mostly) adhered to by the players and coaches.

There have been rules changes to accommodate the virus and its ongoing effects: a universal DH, 7-inning doubleheaders, and extra-innings beginning with a runner on second base among them. Other rules changes already anticipated have changed the game as well, especially where a relief pitcher must face at least three batters in most circumstances.

Still, despite all of the hardships, concerns, and alterations the game has largely fared well. We are now over three weeks into what has been reformatted as a 60-game schedule. Some teams are showing that they are ready for a championship run. Many are fighting for one of what will be eight available playoff spots in each league this season.

This being a Philadelphia Phillies fan site, there will be interest in where the club stands and why. As frustrating as the club’s 6-9 start to the season has been, the Phillies fall right smack in the middle of the overall rankings at #16. They are the eighth-ranked team in the National League.

The Phillies offense ranks eighth and defense ninth in all of baseball. But their 22nd rated pitching staff, weighted down by a horrendous bullpen to this point, is largely responsible for their win-loss percentage coming in at 24th in baseball and is keeping them a middle-of-the-pack ball club.

And now it is time for the first 2020 MLB Power Ranking here at The Bell. The next will be released around Labor Day, then again on September 15, and a final ranking at the conclusion of the regular season.

NOTE: These first rankings do not include the Saint Louis Cardinals, who have played only five games due to their virus outbreak. The Cards are due to return to play today, and should be included in the Labor Day rankings. For now they will show at the bottom in an N/R (not ranked) status.

RANKINGS METHODOLOGY

The formula for compiling the rankings in 2020 has one change from the end of last season, with ‘FIP’ replacing ‘OPS against’ as the team pitching category. My formula is always being researched and evaluated to see if it can be improved upon.

That current formula is now made up of the following categories: winning percentage (most recent 30 games), runs-per-game, FIP (fielding independent pitching), and defensive runs saved as measured by Fangraphs.

The ‘winning percentage/30 days’ component reflects each team’s ability to actually win ball games during recent weeks. ‘FIP’ reflects a pitching staff’s ability to control the game and limit damage. The ‘runs-per-game‘ component acknowledges that teams play various numbers of games as of the time of each ranking. For example, it wouldn’t be fair to consider a club that had scored 100 runs over 50 games as effective as a club who scored 100 runs over just 45 games. ‘Defensive runs saved‘ is a stat measuring the effectiveness of each club’s defenders to keep opposition runs off the scoreboard.

Each team’s placement in the four component categories gets them assigned a 1-30 numerical value. Those are added up to determine a final overall rankings points total.

Where there are any ties, those are broken using each team’s winning percentage over the last 30, and then by their current overall winning percentage since, in the end, winning is what it’s all about.

2020 AUGUST 15 –  MLB RANKINGS

In parentheses below are each team’s current total ranking points:

  1. Colorado Rockies (16)
  2. Los Angeles Dodgers (19)
  3. Oakland Athletics (20)
  4. Minnesota Twins (26)
  5. Chicago Cubs (27)
  6. Baltimore Orioles (28)
  7. Tampa Bay Rays (29)
  8. New York Yankees (35)
  9. Cleveland Indians (41)
  10. Miami Marlins (45)
  11. Chicago White Sox (54)
  12. Atlanta Braves (56)
  13. San Diego Padres (57)
  14. Detroit Tigers (60)
  15. Cincinnati Reds (61)
  16. Philadelphia Phillies (63)
  17. Los Angeles Angels (64)
  18. Houston Astros (65)
  19. Toronto Blue Jays (67)
  20. Texas Rangers (76)
  21. Milwaukee Brewers (76)
  22. New York Mets (78)
  23. Arizona Diamondbacks (80)
  24. Washington Nationals (89)
  25. Kansas City Royals (93)
  26. San Francisco Giants (98)
  27. Boston Red Sox (99)
  28. Seattle Mariners (101)
  29. Pittsburgh Pirates (103)
  30. Saint Louis Cardinals (N/R)

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