*Stats and records through 05/10/2014
#1 – COLORDO ROCKIES, 23-16
Sure, we know they have the Coors Field advantage offensively, but led by Troy Tulowitzki’s crazy explosion, they have an OPS 98 points higher than any team in baseball. That’s just crazy. To put it in perspective, you have to go down to #24 on the list if you go another 98 points below #2. And while their pitching numbers are in the lowest third, it hasn’t sabotaged their offense as they still have top combined WAR in MLB according to FanGraphs. They are the inevitable Tulo injury away from collapse, but in a snapshot of today, they are the most dangerous team in baseball.
#2 – OAKLAND ATHLETICS, 22-15
The A’s rank second due to excellent balance. They rank 5th in pitching WAR and 8th in batting WAR, 5th total. Using conventional numbers, they’ve scored the fourth most runs in baseball while compiling the second best ERA. It’s hard to argue against their resume.
#3 – DETROIT TIGERS, 21-11
The Tigers have the fifth most wins and the third best combined WAR. That kind of speaks for itself, but another reason I have them here is because they’ve accomplished all of this despite a very poor start for Miggy Cabrera and an injury to defending ERA champ Anibal Sanchez.
#4 – MILWAUKEE BREWERS, 23-14
The Brewers got off to a great start, but they do not have the most momentum lately. However, they have really solid pitching (seventh in ERA), and their recent slide coincided with Ryan Braun’s injury. Braun should be back in the lineup this Tuesday.
#5 – ATLANTA BRAVES, 20-15
The Braves sport by far the best pitching statistically with the best ERA (2.66) backed up by the best xFIP (3.19). Offensively, they’ve scored the fewest runs and are toward the bottom in OPS, but they still rank 12th in “non-pitching” WAR because of fantastic defense. They need to wake up the offense to take this to the next level, but pitching and defense is a tried and true formula for regular season wins.
#6 – LOS ANGELES DODGERS, 20-18
The Dodgers would rank slightly lower than this based purely on numbers, but the numbers are good and that’s without the best pitcher in baseball Clayton Kershaw until this week. His value cannot be overstated.
#7 – SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS, 23-14
The Giants were way, way down on the WAR list…barely in the first two thirds, but they have the fifth best ERA. When you can pitch, you can win, which is what they’ve done so far.
#8 – FLORIDA MARLINS, 20-17
I’m a little leery putting a team with such a lopsided home/road split (H 17-5, R 3-12) this high up on the list, but the numbers don’t lie. They have the seventh best combined WAR and tied for the sixth most wins. They can hit and pitch, but as stated, they do both a lot better at home. If they can translate just enough to the road, they’ll be here all season.
#9 – LOS ANGELES ANGELS, 18-17
Here is where stats propelled a team. The Angels have the second best combined WAR, powered by one of the best offenses in the game. They are second to the Rox offense/defense WAR, fifth in runs scored, and fourth in OPS. And this is all without Josh Hamilton and Kole Calhoun for much of the last month. Hamilton is due back in two weeks, which can only help.
#10 – WASHINGTON NATIONALS, 19-17
The Nationals have one of the better pitching staffs in the league (sixth best ERA, second best xFIP). With the return of Doug Fister, assuming his first start was just a blip, should only improve that side of the ball. The offense is more of a struggle because of injury: Bryce Harper is out for 6-8 weeks, Ryan Zimmerman has been on the DL for a month already and is still weeks away from returning, and Adam LaRoche just hit the DL Sunday. They do not have the defense part of the pitching/defense equation, but they have an above average offense even with those maladies.
BALTIMORE ORIOLES, 20-14 – Very poor statistical support, looks like a fluke
NEW YORK YANKEES, 19-16 – Probably should be in, but worried about health and hate them
BOSTON RED SOX, 18-18 – Ninth best combined WAR…undervaluing the AL East? Probably
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS, 18-19 – Great pitching but sluggish offense and losing record keep them out
TORONTO BLUE JAYS, 18-19 – Fourth best combined WAR, but losing record