With more than one-half of the 2022 MLB season officially in the books, it feels like a great idea to stake stock of the World Series race. But where many tend to use gut feelings, the eye test and recent hot streaks, among other things, we’re going a different route.
Our World Series rankings will look to identify the most likely championship winners by looking at the advanced metrics. Specifically, we will be using Simple Rating System from Baseball Refence, also known as SRS. This metric weights both a team’s strength of schedule and run differential to spit out a single number aimed to capture its standing relative to the rest of the league.
Some will scoff at boiling down the World Series race to one metric. This isn’t meant to be an end-all. It’s more of a “Hey, look at this!” Also: This is uncommon. Advanced metrics are staple used by the top MLB betting sites to determine championship futures and game lines. And if they’re good enough for the sports industry’s leading experts, they’re good enough for us.
In an effort to go beyond the numbers, though, we’ll bake in our own analysis for each team. Our guiding question: Do we buy Team X ranking this high on the 2022 World Series scale?
All SRS scores will be noted in parentheticals and are accurate entering games on July 28, 2022. Now, let’s get to it!
- New York Yankees (2.1)
“The Yankees’ Aaron Judge Flies Out in the Seventh” is licensed under CC BY 2.0
It’s kind of hard not to buy the New York Yankees as World Series favorites at this point. Their offense is caps-lock LEGENDARY.
Led by American League MVP candidate Aaron Judge, the Yankees top Major League Baseball in slugging percentage (.444) and total home runs (168) by a monstrous margin. Their plus-196 run differential also happens to be the best in the business—nearly 20 runs compared to second place.
Skeptics will be concerned about the Yankees’ pitching heading into the postseason. A recent injury to slugger Giancarlo Stanton isn’t convenient, either. But New York’s offensive depth is generational at the moment.
They’ve earned this top billing.
- Los Angeles Dodgers (1.5)
This comes as little surprise. Many, in fact, might have the Los Angeles Dodgers in that No. 1 spot.
Though their offense got off to a touch-and-go start, exacerbated in part by Mookie Betts’ onset struggles, the Dodgers have long since recovered. Los Angeles now owns the best on-base-plus-slugging-percentage mark in the game by an almost comically wide margin.
On top of all that, the Dodgers are almost universally considered to have the best pitching staff in baseball. At this writing, their starters and relievers combine for a 2.98 ERA—making them the only active staff to post an ERA south of three.
- Houston Astros (1.1)
This is where we start to veer into speculative territory.
Almost everyone agrees the Yankees and Dodgers represent this season’s foremost World Series threats. Everything is hazy after that. The Atlanta Braves, San Diego Padres, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Mets and others have all received consideration to fill that No. 3 spot.
Baseball Reference’s SRS gives the nod to the Houston Astros, albeit just barely.
While Houston struggled out of the gate, they’ve turned things around. Most will automatically assume their offense finally got it together if they haven’t been watching. That’s just not the case.
The Astros’ pitching staff has rescued their season more than anything. Only the Dodgers are posting a stingier ERA, and the .212 they’re allowing opponents to hit is the league’s lowest mark by a fairly substantial gap.
- Toronto Blue Jays (0.9)
“Vladimir Guerrero Jr.” by All Pro Reels Photography is licensed under CC BY 2.0
To be honest, the Toronto Blue Jays’ standing in this race feels inflated. We’re talking about a team that ranked fourth in their own division not too long ago.
Toronto has been more consistent on both sides of the field more recently. But we also think their SRS score is getting a boon from their 28-run shellacking of the Boston Red Sox this past week.
No, we’re not saying the Blue Jays are incapable of winning the World Series. We just need them to sustain this current performance for a little longer before making the declaration.
- New York Mets (0.8)
Advanced metrics like SRS no longer love the Mets as much as they once did. This team has been uniquely humbled.
After extending their lead in the NL East Division to a whopping 10-plus games, the Mets saw the reigning champion Atlanta Braves come as close as 1.5 games to them.
In particular, the month of July was not kind to New York. They struggled to play .500 baseball and saw their bats go through the mother of all slump.
On the bright side, the Mets’ roster is deep with hitters and promising pitchers, so this should be a temporary rut. But it’s not a bad idea to start weighing other options such as the Padres or Braves ahead of them moving forward.