It is April 24 and the Major League Baseball season is nearing the four-week mark. Every team has played at least 20 games and while we're still in "small sample" territory, we've seen a meaningful sample. We're a good number of games past the 10 percent mark.
Do me a favor, now: Peer over to Pittsburgh.
Well lookie what we have here.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are 16-7. That's the best record in the National League. The only team with a better record made baseball history by starting the season 13-0. The Rays are also the only team with fewer losses than the Pirates.
At present, the Pirates have a seven-game winning streak. Their longest winning streak last season was four games. In 2021, it was just three. This is the longest winning streak since 2018, which was also the last time the Pirates finished the season with a winning record.
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There's young talent in the rotation in Roansy Contreras and Johan Oviedo. There's a strong anchor at the back of the bullpen in David Bednar. They have an offensive star in Bryan Reynolds and a defensive wizard in Ke'Bryan Hayes. It's also been amazingly fun to watch Andrew McCutchen return to where it started and he's looked rejuvenated in doing so.
Of course, these being the Official Power Rankings and it still being April, the Pirates are creating a headache for yours truly. I do not believe they are legitimately one of the best teams in baseball, nor do I think they'll even finish .500. The personnel has to weigh and we're still in the react without overreacting portion of the season. Specifically, I need to promote them rather heavily, but they aren't going to be sitting in the number two spot. It's always possible that we were all wrong from the start about this team. It was just two seasons ago that around late May I stopped asking how the Giants were doing it and just accepted that they were a surprisingly great team. Maybe the Pirates will be similar -- though they certainly aren't winning 107 games -- but for now, I will remain conservative with them.
I will say, however, to Pirates fans: Enjoy the ever-living hell out of this team right now and ignore anything that might detract from said enjoyment ... such as feeling that a certain power ranker has them too low.
|They won 13, lost three of four and now have won five straight. Hey, nobody's perfect, but these Rays have been damn close.||--||96-62|
|Here they come? The Astros have won nine of their last 13, took two of three from the Blue Jays and then swept the Braves in Atlanta. Next up? A trip to the Trop. That'll be tons of fun.||8||86-72|
|They've only played six home games compared to 16 on the road. This is to say it's been a much more impressive start than the already-good record indicates.||2||87-70|
|In the next two weeks, the Brewers play the Tigers, Angels, Rockies and Giants. Top-tier contenders would be banking those easy wins. Let's see what you've got, Crew.||1||88-69|
|I don't expect this to be the case for long, but as things stand, the Braves have only played one team with a current winning record. They went 0-3 against that team.||3||101-56|
|You simply can't say enough about what Pete Alonso has done with himself as a hitter. He set the Mets record (crushed it, actually) for home runs when he was a rookie and since then he's lowered his strikeout rate, raised his walk rate, become a better average hitter and hasn't lost any power. He shortens up on two strikes, goes the other way with outside pitches, etc. It's a pleasure to watch.||1||71-85|
|The offense has scored two or fewer runs in seven of the Yankees' 22 games so far.||3||80-77|
|Here they come? The Dodgers have won four of six and looked like their old selves in taking three of four in Wrigley (save for Friday's debacle).||4||97-60|
|Here they come? With the returns of Fernando Tatis Jr. and Joe Musgrove, the Padres are close to full strength. They have all their big guns, at least. And they've won four of five.||--||78-80|
|Schedule police are out again! The Orioles have won six straight games and 10 of 12. The competition? The A's, White Sox, Nationals and Tigers. Hmmm...||3||98-59|
|Only the Rays have a better run differential than the Rangers' +60 mark. If they hang around toward the top of the contenders board we'll need to have a talk about the influence of Bruce Bochy in that dugout.||4||88-69|
|Leadoff man Nico Hoerner is hitting .355 with a .400 on-base percentage and is starting to add power to his arsenal.||2||82-75|
|They've got a three-game series with the Dodgers starting Tuesday. Looking ahead to next week, they can *really* make some noise, though, in visiting the Rays in St. Petersburg.||8||74-83|
|They've lost four of five and have fallen into a first-place tie. The Dodgers and Padres are better suited to win this year, too. Is the party over already? I guess at least there is some good news: They are finally done with Madison Bumgarner. He can take his nonsense elsewhere.||3||83-74|
|Remember when the Rays hadn't "played anyone?" That snide remark included the Red Sox, counting them as "no one." Well, the Red Sox are now 12-4 when they don't play one of the two teams with the best records in baseball. The strength of this framing depends on your feelings regarding how good the Pirates are, but facts are facts.||2||76-81|
|They've lost six of their last eight, but it doesn't matter in the hapless AL Central. With the new schedule, it might be a race to 81 wins. I'm only half kidding.||10||84-73|
|Intriguing team. Too bad Sandy Alcantara isn't having the year he had last year. Oh, and Luis Arraez is hitting .444. No, he's not just 4 for 9. He's 32 for 81.||3||81-75|
|Signs of life! The Phillies have won six of eight and Bryce Harper is about to become the fastest returner from Tommy John surgery in MLB history.||4||88-69|
|They just don't look too impressive. Fret not, though, Cleveland fans: The Guardians started last season 7-12.||11||74-84|
|Mike Trout has homered in back-to-back games and Shohei Ohtani looks like the best pitcher in baseball. The Angels are 11-11. The more things change...||1||71-87|
|Several players should be hitting better and overall the team is just kind of stuck in the mud. The Jarred Kelenic breakout looks very real, though. Holy smokes, has he been locked in or what?||5||85-72|
|Thanks to some surges from other teams, I think the Cardinals right now hold the title of the most disappointing team among expected contenders. It has to be especially frustrating given how good the Brewers have looked, not to mention the Pirates and Cubs showing signs.||4||69-88|
|They've won one series all season and that was against the White Sox. They've lost series to the Tigers and Royals. If anything, they should be lower. It's just really crowded with awful teams down here.||1||78-80|
|Surely Rick Hahn will be looking for a new job soon, right? Since 2012, the White Sox have only had a winning record twice and one of those seasons was a 60-gamer. Right now, the White Sox are 7-15, under water in run differential and a chore to watch.||1||60-97|
|I have no idea what that five-game winning streak was all about, but the Kitties are back on track, having lost four in a row.||2||74-83|
|The series win over the Twins was the Nationals' first series win of the season. They are now 1-5-1 in series.||2||69-89|
|The Reds started 3-1. They've lost 14 of 18 since. At least that Hunter Greene extension was good.||2||81-77|
|The Rockies have now lost 11 of their last 12. They've looked every bit that bad, too.||2||57-100|
|This is just remarkable. The Royals are now 1-12 with a negative-49 run differential at home. They are at least semi-competent on the road, but just completely futile at home.||--||54-103|
|There isn't really much to say. Ownership would be embarrassed if it had any shame. Pathetic stuff, John J. Fisher.||--||48-109|