MLB Power Rankings: Are White Sox Surging Too Late?

The Chicago White Sox are getting hot at the plate in September and have risen in Chris Hatfield's MLB power rankings. However, is it too little, too late for baseball's most surprisingly disappointing team?

Last Updated: Sep 15, 2022 11:44 AM ET Read Time: 4 min
Eloy Jimenez Chicago White Sox MLB
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Welcome to the latest edition of the MLB power rankings, where we continue to get closer to the postseason. 

Things can always change, but for the moment, it appears we only have a few actual divisional races still in play. The battle for the NL East between the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets seems poised to go right down to the wire. Just a half-game separates the pair, and to make the race even hotter, they'll finish the year with a two-game set in Atlanta.

The only other race I'd consider competitive at this point is in the AL Central. The Cleveland Guardians have separated themselves with an 8-2 run, but the Chicago White Sox are just four games behind them.

Let's dig into these rankings where the New York Yankees and Houston Astros have flip-flopped once again, along with some significant movement in the Top 10.  

MLB Power Rankings: Week of September 17 (update chart)

Rank Team (Radius) Last Week's Rank Record World Series odds
1 Los Angeles Dodgers (.733) 1 94-42 +360
2 New York Yankees (.669) 3 88-49 +500
3 Houston Astros (.667) 2 83-54 +425
4 Atlanta Braves (.659) 4 86-51 +800
5 New York Mets (.642) 5 87-51 +550
6 St. Louis Cardinals (.612)  6 81-56 +2,000
7 Toronto Blue Jays (.596) 9 75-61 +1,400
8 Seattle Mariners (.586)  8 77-60 +2,500
9 Philadelphia Phillies (.585) 7 76-60 +3,000
10 Tampa Bay Rays (.579) 10 77-58 +3,000
11 Milwaukee Brewers (.567) 11 71-65 +7,000
12 San Diego Padres (.561) 13 68-67 +3,000
13 Minnesota Twins (.560) 12 76-62 +25,000
14 Cleveland Guardians (.558) 14 70-65 +3,500
15 Chicago White Sox (.548) 16 65-70 +11,000
16 Baltimore Orioles (.542) 17 69-68 +35,000
17 San Francisco Giants (.535) 15 72-71 +200,000
18 Boston Red Sox (.534) 18 67-71 +200,000
19 Texas Rangers (.513) 19 59-77 +200,000
20 Arizona Diamondbacks (.507) 20 65-71 +200,000
21 Los Angeles Angels (.499) 21 60-77 +200,000
22 Chicago Cubs (.477) 22 57-79 +200,000
23 Colorado Rockies (.470) 25 55-80 OTB
24 Miami Marlins (.464) 23 54-80 OTB
25 Cincinnati Reds (.454) 24 59-79 OTB
26 Kansas City Royals (.443) 26 56-82 OTB
27 Detroit Tigers (.419) 27 52-85 OTB
28 Pittsburgh Pirates (.348) 30 50-87 OTB
29 Washington Nationals (.350) 29 48-89 OTB
30 Oakland Athletics (.386) 28 50-86 OTB

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Before we dive into the rankings, I wanted to take a moment to speak about regression and teams that are outpacing their offensive production right now. The two teams with the most significant discrepancy between actual slugging percentage and expected slugging percentage are the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals.

The Dodgers have earned the benefit of the doubt from an offensive perspective. Even if they regress some, we know how much of a threat that lineup can be. However, I wonder if Albert Pujols and his improbable late-season explosion for the Cardinals have skewed our view of them. The numbers say their offensive production is a bit unsustainable given the quality of at-bats they've put together. That's something I'll be watching closely as we draw to the postseason.

Biggest Risers

Toronto Blue Jays (7)

Toronto is on fire, going 7-3 in their last 10, and many of those games haven't been particularly competitive. 

We shouldn't be surprised about their success against the Tampa Bay Rays. My projections will easily have the Rays have the worst offense in the playoffs — if they make it — and my projections have the Toronto Blue Jays as the third-best in baseball. That's a huge mismatch.

I think what's most impressive about the bluebirds — and why my rankings continue to move them up — is that their offense still has much room for positive regression. Their expected batting average and expected slugging percentage both say they are underperforming vs. the quality of their at-bats. The pitching is a problem, but the Jays are very dangerous for the postseason if they can get enough production. 

Chicago White Sox (15)

The Chicago White Sox are trending in the right direction from an analytical perspective. However, you must wonder if it's too little or too late.

The White Sox are 6.5 games out of the final AL Wild Card and are four games out of first in the AL Central. Our rankings now have them as both a Top-10 offense and pitching staff. That's the most significant reason for their jump.

That move could make them the only team to hold a Top-10 ranking in both to miss the playoffs. Given what our numbers say about them, I think it's fair to say that they are the most disappointing team in baseball if October isn't in their future. 

Biggest Fallers

Oakland A's (30)

Oh, the A's.

They seem destined to be a full fade team down the stretch. They took the tumble to the last spot in this week's rankings after going 3-7 in their previous 10  games. Oakland's offense has fallen to last in our projections and is not particularly close.

Consider this: The A's have a team batting average of .217, which would be tied for one of the worst since at least 2008. The bad news for them is that their expected batting average looks closer to .205. Oakland has the fourth toughest strength of schedule remaining, meaning that a blind fade of them down the stretch may be in order. 

San Francisco Giants (17)

We've seen the San Francisco Giants in this category a few times this season. The offense just hasn't been there. In their last three games, they averaged just 2.6 runs, mimicking what we've seen in their dry spells all year.

Their expected xBA is third-worst in MLB, and, as bad as their offense has been this season, our numbers expect them to be due for some more negative regression. A 3-7 spell in their last 10 games has effectively ended their playoff hopes. As for how we should bet them down the stretch? Unders may be the way. 

Power Rankings methodology

Chris Hatfield's MLB Power Rankings are based heavily on the Pythagorean Theorem, pioneered by Bill James.

This process estimates the percentage of games a team should win and, therefore, where they fall in line in the MLB hierarchy. After that, he adds some secret sauce to develop a team's "radius," which includes a formula comprised of a team's collective expected ERA, run value, and wOBA, among other items.

This process not only attempts to show you how one formula views the landscape, but also which team has the best value to win the World Series vs. oddsmakers' expectations.

Through various sims, he finds the implied probability of one team achieving postseason success to help readers like yourself cash tickets. Just as importantly, Chris’ MLB Power Rankings are not a subjective list — and do not reflect odds between two teams in a given matchup.

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