MLB Influence Rankings
Tim Chalberg • Sunday, May 01, 2011
Click on the picture above to enlarge it. The file size isn't too big, but it's pixel size is quite large (just as a heads up). A full explanation on this infographic can be found here, including my methodology behind the bubble sizes and positions. If you want to compare and contrast this picture to the previous one (on April 10), it is available here.
Many teams' playoff odds changed dramatically between this graphic and the previous one, which isn't too surprising given how early in the season it is. Cool standings uses the baseball pythagorean theorem, and teams off to hot starts are also likely to have good run differentials. So, for instance, I doubt the Indians are as good as they were in April. What the standings tell us is that if the Indians continue to play as well as they have, they are the most likely team to make the playoffs.
Can the Indians keep up their surprising success? What will it take for people to Google the Texas Rangers? Can the Twins maintain fan interest without a surge into playoff contention?
How will the national media handle this year's MLB landscape? I touched on this a week into the season, but it begs repeating. The Mets, Cubs, Dodgers, and Red Sox, four of baseballs most popular franchises, are all well off the pace after slow April starts.
Will we see more coverage of mid-market teams like the Rangers, Rockies, and Reds? Cincinnati, with reigning MVP Joey Votto off to a torrid start, might be in prime position to take a bigger slice of the national spotlight.
Will even more attention shift to the Phillies and Yankees, the two juggernauts off to good starts? If media coverage shifts this way, it may make the two teams seem like prohibitive favorites in each league. Given all the hype around Philly to start this season, and how the season has unfolded so far, they may build incredibly high expectations.
Will media coverage change at all? If it doesn't, we might be heading for a summer filled with Jose Reyes trade rumors, and intense coverage of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder trips to Wrigley. Without meaningful games to hype, reporters will have to look for other storylines to maintain coverage of teams like the Mets and Cubs.
A month is far from enough to draw solid conclusions. However, it is enough time for teams to build leads or dig holes. It will be interesting to see what happens if so many major market teams continue to struggle.