We'll start with an admission: This is easily my least favorite time to rank teams. A Major League Baseball season is a marathon and we can't judge which teams are better based on even a head-to-head series. I don't even need to establish trust here, because the following have already happened:
- The Red Sox lost three of four to the Mariners.
- The Yankees lost two of three to the Orioles.
- The Cubs lost two of three to the Rangers.
- The Astros are 1-3.
- The Mariners are 5-1!
All three above series will prove fluky over the course of this season. The games obviously are in the books and count, but I'm not ranking the Orioles over the Yankees. We all know they aren't better.
Obviously we can react to some of what we saw, but let's throw out two specific reminders from last season. The Mets started 11-1 and ended 77-85 while the Dodgers started 16-26 and ended 92-71.
As such, it's tough to sit here and earnestly rank the teams based upon what we've seen so far. If the teams were previously ranked close, maybe the head-to-head matters. I'm not wholly convinced the Rays are better than the Astros, but they are both expected contenders and the Rays took three of four. I feel like that matters here.
We'll massage in what mattered without going crazy and doing things like putting the Mariners ahead of the Red Sox. I actually think the moves I made below were aggressive, given how little we actually know about how this season will unfold based upon what we've seen on the field.
The Brewers taking three of four from the Cardinals definitely matters, as I had the top three in the NL Central bunched up to start the year. How about that division and the potential of fun? The Pirates were over .500 last year and the Reds had a great offseason. Those latter two teams had an incredibly fun Opening Day game and split a series. The Cubs' offense appears fixed and -- while the bullpen was most definitely worrisome -- they were a few breaks from sweeping in Texas.
The division also features three MVP-caliber players off to incredible starts.
- Christian Yelich is hitting .500/.667/1.583 with a homer in each of his four games with eight RBI and also had a walk-off double on Sunday.
- Paul Goldschmidt is hitting .375/.444/1.125 with four homers and seven RBI.
- Javier Baez is hitting .429/.467/.857 with two homers, six RBI and two steals.
That's my bet for the most fun division in baseball this year. The defending champion Brewers definitely have a leg up right now and in the way early going look like the team to beat. They sit atop the NL Central in rankings before a series against the Reds to start the week, which you can stream on fuboTV (Try for free). The Cubs kick off the season ninth and the Cardinals 10th.
As for the rest ...
Previous rankings: Preseason | Offseason
|How about these Phillies, huh? If they justify a stay here through next Sunday, we'll discuss further at length.||7||0-0|
|Cody Bellinger! He's hitting .500/.524/1.100 with four homers and eight RBI.||2||0-0|
|That comeback on Sunday looked awfully familiar, no?||6||0-0|
|That's a pretty damn impressive open to the season, especially after losing the game Blake Snell started. Kudos to the Rays.||9||0-0|
|Hey, it's only four games. They got little or nothing from Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa. It happens.||2||0-0|
|Well hello Pete Alonso.||4||0-0|
|Seriously, what WAS that? Look at the two rosters. Losing a game happens. Losing the series is unacceptable.||6||0-0|
|Couldn't be a much worse start for the champs. They were trailing into the ninth in the one game they actually won against a team that offloaded several of its better players in the offseason.||6||0-0|
|The bullpen is a definite concern. That should've been an easy sweep to score 28 runs in three games. Ridiculous.||4||0-0|
|Rough series. They actually weren't far off from winning three of four, which probably makes it hurt even worse.||3||0-0|
|Quite a rough start for the bullpen, but we can't go crazy after one series, especially when it came against a good team.||5||0-0|
|They are 3-1 on American soil and the pitching has been great.||4||0-0|
|The Indians' terrible offseason really opens the door for the Twins here in the Central. Winning the head-to-head series to start the season illustrates as much.||4||0-0|
|I've got Friar Fever, baby!||4||0-0|
|Without Francisco Lindor this offense is terrible. I'd say there's legitimate concern even if they won this series.||3||0-0|
|Perhaps some solace for Rockies fans: The Cubs split the opening four-game series in Miami last year and won 95 games.||2||0-0|
|As I said last week, this team is better than most expected, though they aren't playoff good. Some regression will come, but it's not going to be a dreadful team like we've seen with other rebuilds. And how about Tim Beckham? Lord.||6||0-0|
|It's always tough to start against a team at home with major excitement heading in, especially with the presumed top two starting pitchers injured.||7||0-0|
|Two remarkable comebacks featuring huge home runs had to be pretty fun for the Rangers fans in attendance. Those games were crazy.||6||0-0|
|Psst: Someone aside from Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout might have to hit.||5||0-0|
|Trevor Williams followed up with what might have been his breakout season with a sparkling 2019 debut (6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K against what is going to be a good offense).||2||0-0|
|That was an "uh oh" outing from Sonny Gray, especially the four walks in 2 2/3 innings compared to zero strikeouts.||2||0-0|
|Probably one of the better bad teams, right?||2||0-0|
|Some good things to take away from the first series -- Marcus Stroman looked great! -- but splitting with the Tigers at home is not encouraging.||2||0-0|
|Guess where their first series win was last year? Yep, in Yankee Stadium last April when they took three of four. Let's this point reinforce my points in the intro.||5||0-0|
|I love seeing the hot start from Jorge Soler. Hopefully he stays healthy and we'll finally see that full-season breakout.||1||0-0|
|Hard to get a good read here, as we don't actually know how good the Blue Jays will be, but 2-2 on the road to start is a success.||1||0-0|
|What an impressive outing from Sandy Alcantara, who was a prospect the Marlins got in the Marcell Ozuna trade. The best part was that in the past his biggest issues have stemmed from walks and he issued zero walks in eight innings.||1||0-0|
|Not good, Giants. Not good at all.||5||0-0|
|Very encouraging starts from Yoan Moncada and Lucas Giolito.||4||0-0|