The following rankings are based on Tom's observations, his interpretation of advanced stats, his conflicted feelings toward Aaron Judge, and his discussions with the ghost of George Sisler. These rankings are not meant to reflect merely the performance of all 30 teams over the final two months of the season, but instead to reflect likelihood of a playoff berth and subsequent success. Therefore, the great Tom Baird will only be providing a top ten ranking. Here goes...
1. Los Angeles Dodgers: They have now won 43 of their past 50 games and are projected to win 115 games. While they won't reach that number, I do think that they will top 110 wins in 2017. Come October, the team will likely be sending out Kershaw, Darvish, Hill, and Wood, with an outside shot of using Ryu or Maeda as well. This is called depth. It is super nice. Their acquisitions of Watson and Cingrani will likely help very little in October, although I believe Cingrani can be a star reliever in the future. This team is so stacked that they have a backup catcher likely worth 2 WAR, with a 900 OPS.
2. Houston Astros: The past three years have been a roller coaster for the Astros. Jose Altuve is not tall enough to ride roller coasters. This is called irony. Also, this joke has probably been used before and I just don't care.
3. Washington Nationals: This team is so complete, and yet very few people consider them to be as strong a threat as the Dodgers. While I do not believe they are as good as Los Angeles, I think that they could sweep a playoff series against the Dodgers, because they have fantastic front line pitching, a complete roster, and also the playoffs are not real life. They are better than real life. They are amazing.
4. Diamondbacks: The Diamondbacks would be ranked above the Nationals if they were not in the West, and if Robbie Ray did not have headaches. They top the Nationals in run differential, and have looked like the stronger team for much of the season. Also, JD Martinez, whose real name is Just Dingers Martinez, actually hits home runs every 10 plate appearances. That is a good thing to do when you hit baseballs for a living.
5. Cubs: You may be starting to see a trend. I do not think the American League is nearly as strong as the NL this year. It feels weird to write or say those words, because the opposite has been etched in stone for the past twenty years. I honestly like the Rockies more than the Yankees, and I would rank them higher if they were not the third best team in their division. Back to the Cubs... they are still very very good. Yes, the Cubs have been inconsistent. Yes, their pitching has not been as strong as last year. Yes, I have a goat sitting in my backyard and its name is Olivia, and I may use it to curse the Cubs in October. Nonetheless, the Cubs remain a huge threat to repeat. The NL is stacked this year, and anybody can win in the playoffs with well-rounded rosters like these.
6. Yankees: This team actually ranks third in run differential according to Fangraphs, behind the Dodgers and Astros. They have the best bullpen we have seen in a while, rivaling the Royals from 2014 and 2015. They are a very good team with fun, young bats, and have a very real shot at competing in October. The bullpen is the only piece that puts them over the Sox in my rankings, and I likely will change my mind by the time I reach the team at #9.
7. Red Sox: If Price was right, they would be ranked higher. I still think that their starting pitching options are better than the Yankees starters, even without Price, but the Yankees bullpen is so so strong. Sox might move up before September
8: Indians: Kluber is king. If Carrasco gets hot, this team can run through the playoffs. The team ranks sixth in run differential and has the pitching to pull off a strong playoff run. They still have a lot of holes and question marks, but those two starters, along with that bullpen, could lead them right back to the World Series.
9. Rockies: Because the lineup is great, the pitching is improving, and I think the Brewers have no shot. The team sits between the Red Sox and Cubs in run differential rankings, and they have a surprisingly balanced team. If you want to bet on unknown players that could become big names in October, bet on young Colorado pitchers German Marquez, Jon Gray, and Jeff Hoffman. Also, don't bet on things like that because its stupid.
10. Royals: Hey look, they still have a shot at making the World Series for a third time in four years! Wow. Think about that. Incredible right? Now stop thinking about it. Stop it. They likely have no chance in hell. If they get there, they will need some miracles from their pitching staff. But they are better than two thirds of the league, so congrats Royals!
Spanning an entire continent, lifelong fans Chris Kubak and Tom Baird take you on a magical, sabermetrically enhanced journey through Major League Baseball.