With the 2021 MLB season in full swing, here is a snapshot of Cleat Street's view of each team.
Based on our modeling, here is where we currently have each MLB offense ranked on per plate appearance basis, after normalizing for what an average offense is expected to produce.
To interpret this, we believe the #1 ranked offense is the Los Angeles Dodgers offense, and that they should produce 70% more runs per plate appearance than the average 2021 MLB team. The #30 ranked offense is the Detroit Tigers offense, which should produce 74% less runs per plate appearance than the average 2021 MLB team.
We repeat this exercise for bullpens:
We believe the Atlanta Braves have the #1 bullpen in Major League Baseball, allowing nearly 2X fewer runs on a per plate appearance basis than the average bullpen, whereas the Detroit Tigers again are the bottom feeders at #30, allowing nearly 2X more runs on a per plate appearance basis than the average bullpen.
Now for starting pitchers. Shown below are the ratings for the SP1 for each respective team.
We believe Gerrit Cole is the #1 pitcher in Major League Baseball when compared to every other team’s SP1. He allows 241% less runs per plate appearance than the average SP1 in 2021. Conversely, we believe Mitch Keller is the worst SP1, and he is expected to allow 162% more runs on a per plate appearance than the average SP1.
Some of these evaluations may shock you. Danny Duffy has had a stellar 2021 campaign. However, prior to this season, he has had 1000+ innings under his belt that suggest he's just an average starter. How you weight historical performance versus recent performance in order to predict future performance is critical.
One thing to note for pitching – for the sake of simplifying this exercise, pitching outcomes include the outcomes of fielders to represent the defense in its entirety, inclusive of errors and fielding decisions.
Final Power Rankings
With rankings set for each component of a team, see below what an illustrative example is for how we would holistically evaluate a team based on their SP1, bullpen, and offense:
This means that based on our modeling, Gerrit Cole and the New York Yankees would be favored against any team. To figure out what it would look like versus other starting pitchers, we would just replace our starting pitcher rating. Despite their recent struggles, the Los Angeles Dodgers are still the #2 team in MLB. Teams that we believe are pretenders include the Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants.