Major League Baseball has done a fantastic job in putting on a 2020 season under incredibly difficult circumstances. While the COVID19 coronavirus pandemic has affected the schedule a few times, adjustments were made and the season has moved along.
Back in mid-August, the first MLB Power Rankings here at The Bell revealed that the Colorado Rockies were surprisingly the top team in the game after the club got off to a red-hot start. They were followed closely by their division rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers, with the Chicago Cubs also hot in the National League.
Over in the American League, the Oakland Athletics and Minnesota Twins were battling for the right to be called the top team in the junior circuit, while the surprise early hot team was the Baltimore Orioles.
Those rankings came out with just under four weeks of the schedule complete. Now, with nearly seven full weeks under our belts, the rankings become more revealing. It’s no longer about simply getting off to a good start, and a couple of those early hot teams have begun to struggle. A number of teams are now beginning to establish themselves as genuine contenders.
This being a Philadelphia Phillies fan site, there will always be interest in where the club stands and why. A frustrating 6-9 start at the time of the first rankings saw the club settle smack in the middle of the overall rankings at #16. They were the eighth-ranked team in the National League at that time. Now, the Phillies are a top 10 team in all of baseball, fourth in the NL, and rank as the top team in the NL East Division.
As you might imagine if you have followed the Phillies over the last couple of weeks, that position and ranking has improved. The ball club has gone on a stretch where, as of these rankings, they have won 10 of their last 11 games. They are 13-6 since those mid-August rankings were released.
The Phillies offense has largely carried the day for the club during this stretch, rising from eighth to third in MLB. Their 5.53 average runs-per-game is a significant improvement over the 4.78 they averaged over the entire 2019 season.
Holding their ranking down is a defense which ranked ninth in all of baseball a few weeks ago, but that has slipped to 17th now. That’s after committing 15 errors over the last 19 games. A possible sign that they are tightening things up is that the Phillies haven’t committed a single error now in more than five straight games, a stretch of 53 innings.
An improved bullpen and consistently solid performances from the starting pitchers has seen what was a 22nd rated Phillies pitching staff in mid-August rise to 16th in MLB here on Labor Day weekend.
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 current rankings continue to use the overall full 2020 win percentage due to the unbalanced number of games played.
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. The lower the overall points total, the higher you finish in the rankings.
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.
And now it is time for the Labor Day 2020 MLB Power Ranking here at The Bell. The next will be released on September 16. That will be 11 days from now and there will be exactly 11 days remaining in the regular season at that point. The final ranking will then come at the conclusion of the regular season as team’s get set for an excited, expanded postseason.
2020 SEPTEMBER 5 – MLB RANKINGS
In parentheses below are each team’s current total ranking points:
- Oakland Athletics (20)
- San Diego Padres (20)
- Chicago White Sox (22)
- Tampa Bay Rays (28)
- Los Angeles Dodgers (34)
- Cleveland Indians (35)
- Chicago Cubs (39)
- Minnesota Twins (39)
- Toronto Blue Jays (45)
- Philadelphia Phillies (47)
- Colorado Rockies (49)
- Atlanta Braves (50)
- New York Yankees (54)
- Houston Astros (55)
- Saint Louis Cardinals (56)
- Milwaukee Brewers (64)
- Baltimore Orioles (66)
- San Francisco Giants (68)
- New York Mets (68)
- Miami Marlins (73)
- Detroit Tigers (77)
- Los Angeles Angels (80)
- Cincinnati Reds (84)
- Seattle Mariners (88)
- Arizona Diamondbacks (89)
- Pittsburgh Pirates (98)
- Boston Red Sox (99)
- Kansas City Royals (100)
- Washington Nationals (100)
- Texas Rangers (105)