With baseball season a little more than two weeks old, lets take our first shot at an early season power rankings.
1) Boston Red Sox (13-2)
Boston listened all winter to people suggest the Yankees had caught or even passed them in the off-season AL East arms race, but early on all the defending division champs have done is win. It is, however, important to note that aside from taking 2/3 against the Yankees at Fenway last week, the Red Sox schedule has been light thus far, and it will be interesting to see how they fare on an upcoming nine game road trip that begins in Anaheim tomorrow night.
2) Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (13-3)
There simply is not a more exciting sports story right now than Angels crossover star Shohei Otani. The Japanese star has won both of his starts on the mound with a dazzling 2.08 ERA and an absurd 0.46 WHIP, while offensively he’s hitting .367 with three homeruns. Combined with Mike Trout’s annual excellence, this team may finally be good enough to seriously compete with Houston.
3) Houston Astros (10-6)
The defending World Series Champions began the new season dominantly, but since this time last week they’ve lost series with both the Twins and Rangers. Last night Houston wasted an incredible start from Justin Verlander, but you’d have to believe this club will find more consistency as the season moves along. Tonight they start a seven game road trip through Seattle and Chicago, before coming back home next Monday for their first big showdown with the Angels.
4) New York Mets (12-2)
When looking at the National League it really is no secret who has played the best thus far. New York has won five straight series to open a season for the first time in their history, and they’re winning with dominant pitching, something this team always envisioned as it’s calling card. The Mets enter play tonight with baseball’s best team ERA at 2.58.
5) Cleveland Indians (8-6)
Despite their relatively average record so far, the Indians are clearly a premier squad in the American League, and after a slow start, they began to take off last week. Cleveland is 6-2 in their last eight contests, and they’ll look to continue that positive trend in a key early season clash with the Twins beginning tomorrow.
6) Arizona Diamondbacks (11-4)
Don’t sleep on the Snakes. Arizona has come out of the gates red hot in what should be a competitive NL West, and despite losing to Clayton Kershaw yesterday, they’ve already taken five of six from the Dodgers and it’s only mid April. That could be important later if the rivals are fighting for a playoff spot where a tiebreaker could become a factor.
7) Minnesota Twins ( 7-4)
The Twins were a surprise playoff team a year ago but they won’t sneak up on anyone this time around. Minnesota has three players with three or more homeruns already in Brian Dozier, Miguel Sano, and Max Kepler, and the additions of Lance Lynn, Jake Odorizzi, and Addison Reed have really made a difference with this pitching staff. Curious to see what happens in their first show down with the Indians this week.
8) Colorado Rockies (9-8)
The Rockies are in a similar boat to that of the Diamondbacks. They’re both extremely talented teams who for the past few years have been stuck looking up at the Dodgers in the NL West. Most predicted that to continue in 2018, but if LA’s horrid beginning to the campaign continues, we could be in for an interesting summer. Colorado has been a little up and down so far but they can certainly mash the baseball, as their 24 team homeruns lead the National League.
9) Chicago Cubs (7-7)
The Cubs are currently in 4th place in their division but they are the first team in the NL Central to make this list, and that should speak volumes about how confident I am that they’ll kick it in gear soon. First baseman Anthony Rizzo is currently on the DL and the Cubs have dealt with some downright miserable weather conditions to date, and while some of their rivals have gotten off to better starts, usually the cream rises to the top if you give it time.
10) Toronto Blue Jays (9-5)
Toronto has been steady so far, chugging along winning most of their series, before the weather caused both of their games with the Indians this weekend to be rescheduled. This week the Blue Jays will look to beat up on Kansas City, before they begin a seven game stretch with the Yankees and Red Sox, a week that should give us a better idea where they stand in the AL East.
11) New York Yankees (7-7)
Speaking of the Yankees, baseball’s biggest winter winner has just not gotten out of their own way to date. Star catcher Gary Sanchez is hitting just .140 while prized off-season addition Giancarlo Stanton is hitting .220 with 25 strikeouts in 59 at-bats. Don’t expect those trends to continue. The Bombers begin a 10 game home stand tonight with two games’s against the woeful Marlins, and it’s important they win them both as they face a difficult road after that, with consecutive series against the Blue Jays, Twins, Angels, and Astros.
12) St. Louis Cardinals (9-7)
The Cardinals have not played all that well so far but they’ve tread water well enough to stay right in the thick of things in their division. Jose Martinez and Tommy Pham have carried an offense that needs more consistency from all of Matt Carpenter, Kolten Wong, and Dexter Fowler. St. Louis renews acquaintances with the Cubs this week, an important April series for both squads.
13) Milwaukee Brewers (8-8)
Milwaukee was a popular preseason playoff pick, and very similarly to their division rivals in St. Louis, the Brewers haven’t been great but have played well enough thus far. Outfielder Christian Yelich and closer Corey Knebel are both currently on the disabled list which has affected this team on both sides of the ball, but beginning tonight Milwaukee has an excellent chance to take off. The Brewers next nine games are against Miami, Cincinnati, and Kansas City, three teams that have combined to go 9-34 so far. They simply have to take advantage of that.
14) Seattle Mariners (8-5)
The Mariners seem to always be the team stuck in the middle, and so far this year that trend has continued. Seattle has had a lot go right for them so far, beginning with the emergence of Mitch Haniger, who is currently tied for the Major League lead with 15 RBI’s. As a team the M’s have played well, but with powerhouses in both Houston and Anaheim they’ll have to step up in the games they go head to head with those teams, beginning tonight in Houston.
15) Pittsburgh Pirates (11-4)
I feel like I’m being a little disrespectful putting a first place this low on the list, but that says everything you need to know about how the Pirates have outplayed preseason predictions. This was a team that traded all-stars Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole last winter to basically signify a rebuild, but don’t tell that to the players on the field. Outfielders Corey Dickerson and Starling Marte have been leading an offense that currently leads the National League with 87 runs, and in three starts James Taillon has emerged as an ace, pitching to a 0.89 ERA in 20.1 innings. It will be fascinating to see if the Bucs can keep this up over the next several weeks.\
16) Washington Nationals (7-9)
Don’t look now but a team many expected to compete for a championship in 2018 has serious problems. Injuries have already crippled a Washington everyday lineup that hasn’t had Daniel Murphy all year, and played this past weekend without both Adam Eaton and Anthony Rendon. Stars Bryce Harper, Max Scherzer, and Stephen Strasburg have all done their part but they’re getting very little help from the rest of the roster, something that will have to change immediately. Tonight the Nationals begin a crucial series with the Mets at Citi Field, and they simply can’t let their arch rivals put more distance between them, as the Mets are already seven up in the loss column.
17) Los Angeles Dodgers (5-9)
Speaking of preseason favorites who haven’t performed up to standard so far, how are the Dodgers struggling so badly? For starters, it’s clear how important Justin Turner is for this offense, and his absence has made it incredibly difficult for this team to score runs. Over time Los Angeles should be fine, but like I just said regarding the Nationals, this is another team that needs to get it going soon before they spot division rivals too big of a lead.
18) Philadelphia Phillies (9-5)
What a difference a week makes. After Philly sports fans were ready to run new manager Gabe Kapler out of town after less than a week, the Phillies have responded, beating up on the woeful Marlins, Reds, and Rays to at least temporarily right the ship. Right now Philadelphia is getting contributions from everyone offensively, most notably Rhys Hoskins and rookie Scott Kingery, but with games coming up against Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and Arizona, lets see where they are in a week and a half.
19) Atlanta Braves (8-6)
Atlanta has played similarly to their rivals in Philadelphia, albeit with a more difficult schedule. The Braves have already gone 3-3 with Washington, won a series against the Rockies, and split two games with the Cubs, and around a difficult four game weekend series with the Mets this weekend, this club plays the Phillies twice and the Reds. It’s time to string some wins together if they want to be taken seriously.
20) Chicago White Sox (4-8)
Weather has wrecked serious havoc on the White Sox schedule so far, as literally their last three games have had to be postponed. When they’ve played Chicago has shown some signs of life, as Matt Davidson’s five homeruns are second to only Mike Trout in the AL, and youngster Reynaldo Lopez has been brilliant in two starts. In a year the Chi-Sox were not expecting to compete young players distinguishing themselves is the most important thing the team wants to see, and so far there’s been reasons to be encouraged.
21) Baltimore Orioles (5-11)
The Orioles have played an incredibly difficult schedule to date, as so far their 2018 opponents in order have been: Twins, Astros, Yankees, Blue Jays, Red Sox. If you want to take the glass half full approach it means lesser opponents are coming, beginning tomorrow night in Detroit. The glass half empty narrative would be if the O’s are going to contend themselves, you’d like them to have gone better than 5-11 against some of the AL’s best competition.
22) Texas Rangers (6-11)
There simply couldn’t have been a single baseball fan not pulling for Bartolo Colon to finish his perfect game attempt last night. The fact that the 44 year old journeyman is even still pitching is incredible in and of itself, but tossing seven perfect innings against the defending champs? Unbelievable. Unfortunately for Texas, aside from Colon last night there has been very little else to be excited about, particularly with shortstop Elvis Andrus now on the DL.
23) San Diego Padres (7-10)
The Padres pitching has been the only real reason they’ve been as competitive as they have been to date, as their 3.08 team ERA is second to only the Mets in the National League. To be more specific, it’s been San Diego’s bullpen leading the charge and keeping this team in games, as in 58 1/3 relief innings the Friars relief corps has surrendered only 14 earned runs. That equates to a 2.16 ERA which will be awfully difficult to sustain. Once the bullpen begins to struggle, so will the Padres.
24) San Francisco Giants (6-9)
The Giants reloaded with veterans this past winter, but basically the whole team has struggled to hit. Their two biggest additions, Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria are hitting .203 and .204 respectively, and that’s the primary reason that only the Reds have scored fewer runs than San Francisco in the NL.
25) Oakland Athletics (6-10)
The A’s have gotten a surprising amount of early season offense from Jed Lowrie and Matt Chapman, who have combined with star power hitter Khris Davis to form a pretty strong three man punch. Oakland’s problem has been on the mound, where outside of lefty Sean Manaea this pitching staff has really struggled to get people out.
26) Detroit Tigers (4-9)
The Tigers are yet another team in a cold weather city that has had their season seriously disrupted by the weather. Detroit has already had five games had to be rescheduled, making it incredibly difficult for the team to find any sort of routine or consistency. When they have played Nick Castellanos has been a bright spot, but we’ll have to give this club a little more time to make a steadfast judgement on them.
27) Kansas City Royals (3-10)
After rejoining the Royals late in spring training, long time third baseman Mike Moustakas hasn’t missed a beat, hitting .327 with three homeruns in the early going. That represents literally the only real positive for a Kansas City team that appears destined for a July fire sale.
28) Tampa Bay Rays (3-12)
The Rays have been an unmitigated disaster to date. They’re currently 13th out of 15th teams in the American League in pitching ERA, and 14th in offensive runs scored, proving they’ve basically done nothing well so far. Perhaps even more disappointing than their 3-12 record is the 10.80 ERA closer Alex Colome currently sports, as he figured to be their best deadline trade commodity.
29) Miami Marlins (4-11)
The Marlins are currently not ranked last on this list, and that represents a win in itself for an organization that is basically sporting a minor league roster. Following an incredible roster tear down this winter that watched four all-stars leave Miami the Marlins have been largely noncompetitive, an unsurprising development. The most interesting thing going forward for this team is the status of Justin Bour, Starlin Castro, and especially J.T. Realmuto, all of whom would be extremely attractive trade commodities, and all three are unlikely to finish 2018 in South Beach.
30) Cincinnati Reds (2-13)
The Reds were not expected to be good but I don’t think anyone expected them to be quite this bad. Joey Votto and company have scored an NL low 44 runs while surrendering an NL high 92. Put that together and 2-13 sounds about right. The most exciting thing Cincinnati fans have to look forward to is the arrival of heralded prospect Nick Senzel who should arrive sooner rather than later.