Here we are, and I talk about this every year: The hardest week of the entire season to do power rankings is the first one. We have seen meaningful baseball for over a week now, so it's time to start earnestly ranking based at least partially upon what we've seen so far. And yet, we're only three series in and some teams have already played each other twice.
In glancing around the standings, I see the Pirates are 7-2 while the Cubs are 5-4. No, I'm not ranking the Pirates ahead of the Cubs because they aren't better. But Matt, their record says they are better! No, it actually doesn't. It says they have a better record thus far.
We've seen the Padres beat the Astros. We've seen the Cubs and Marlins split a four-game series. We've seen Braves take a series from the Nationals. We've seen the Dodgers get off to a terrible start while the Indians haven't been much better.
You want me to throw out all my opinions of the roster construction of some of these teams based upon what amounts to less than 10 percent of the season? I'm not going to do that.
Look no further than last season. Through roughly three series in 2017, the Mets, Diamondbacks and Reds were tied for the best record in the NL at 7-3. The Dodgers were 5-5 and they won the NL. Over on the AL side, the Orioles were 6-2 at the top. The Tigers were next at 6-3. The Indians, who would lead the AL in wins when the dust settled, were just 4-5.
To reiterate, we're not going to go crazy here and it's with good reason and historical backing.
We will move teams, of course, because we can react to what we've seen and feel our way through what might be real. For example, I was high on the Angels coming into the season, but was a bit unsure about it. What we've seen so far has given me a small confidence boost in being right about them. I had a hunch the Blue Jays would look a decent amount better than last season and what we've seen gives me a bit more confidence there.
Some teams can start to catch my eye, too, such as the Mets. I know there's going to be concern of the health in their rotation and that won't go away, but they have a lot of talent and are playing great baseball so far. They'll get a healthy bump.
The job right now is sorting through stuff like that. We can adjust while realizing just how much more of the marathon remains. That's our task this week and to a slightly lesser extent next week and then slightly lesser extents each ensuing week. The other night on one of the broadcasts, the play-by-play man was discussing with the color man how far into the season we need to get until we can start to get a feel on what expected contenders are disappointing and what expected non-contenders look like breakouts. I actually said "40" out loud (I was alone and, yes, I'm a dork). Until we get to that point, we're looking at a combination of what I thought the team would be and what we've seen, tilted more toward what I originally thought the earlier in the season we go. It starts tilting more toward what we've seen with each ensuing week.
If you don't like it, that's OK. This is a subjective exercise. Feel free to yell at me via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Twitter (@MattSnyderCBS).
|For the past few years with the Pirates, Gerrit Cole was one of those guys who you could watch the velocity and stuff and just wonder why he didn't have more gaudy strikeout totals. Through two games with the Astros, he's struck out 22 in 14 innings. That's more like it.||--||95-67|
|Hey, 8-1 is awesome, but they haven't really played anyone. Let's see what next week brings.||2||92-70|
|Some people might latch onto the Red Sox, Pirates or Mets, but for my money, here is the most impressive start in all of baseball.||9||52-110|
|Not a *great* opening road trip overall, especially splitting with the Marlins. Still, getting three of four from the Brewers was big and, hey, everyone else has played a home game by now. It could be far worse.||2||71-91|
|Wait, I thought Shohei Ohtani was going to suck because he had a bad spring? Hahahahahahahahahahahaha.||4||77-85|
|Again, the health of the starting pitchers is of great concern, but when everyone is 100 percent, this is a playoff-caliber roster.||10||77-85|
|The Yangervis Solarte trade was an under-the-radar great move and it's already paying dividends.||4||91-71|
|They're 4-5 with Francisco Lindor, Jason Kipnis, Jose Ramirez, Edwin Encarnacion, Yonder Alonso and more sporting atrocious slash lines. They'll be fine.||1||80-82|
|I don't get worked up about high strikeout totals like some do, but Giancarlo Stanton's two five-K games raised my eyebrows a bit.||6||92-70|
|This is awfully early for a five-game losing streak, no?||5||65-97|
|My hunch is by the end of the season we'll be laughing at how worrisome that 2-6 start was. But man, they looked awful. Sunday's Kershaw/Kenley combo having success had to help alleviate some of the Dodgers' fans concerns. Some. Not all.||5||106-56|
|I'm all for the Dansby Swanson breakout season. This is it, right? Pretty please?||13||88-73|
|Well, here's your biggest surprise of the first three series. No, I don't think they'll even come close to keeping it up. Mark me down for a losing record when it's all said and done.||9||61-101|
|The Dee Gordon/Jean Segura combo atop the lineup is one of the most fun 1-2 punches in baseball.||1||90-72|
|*LOUD SIGH* Is it really too much to ask for Byron Buxton to get off to a hot start? Lord knows I don't ask for much.||1||73-89|
|Previously, in this very space, I noted that the Rockies leading the league in runs last year was a bit misleading because of how offense-friendly Coors Field is and that their offense was actually a concern. Sure enough, through 10 games the Rockies are averaging fewer than four runs per game.||6||74-87|
|The Andrew McCutchen walk-off bomb to close out a six-hit day was one of the feel-good moments of the early-going.||4||107-55|
|Maybe the bullpen wouldn't have been such an issue in the early-going if they signed Greg Holland before spring training started. Just saying.||10||90-72|
|The Brewers swept the Padres and went 2-5 against the Cardinals and Cubs. Also, four of their five wins came via their final team at-bat. That's not sustainable. In other words: Uh oh.||6||95-67|
|Dylan Bundy is only 25. He's got the talent for a big breakout season and he's off to a great start.||--||52-110|
|I was dubious (still kinda am) on Mike Minor's return to being a starter, but so far, so good.||4||60-102|
|Rough start for Gabe Kapler, eh? There's time to turn it around, but he'll need some self-awareness.||4||82-80|
|Beautiful start to the season for lefty Sean Manaea.||4||86-76|
|The Tigers are 4-4, but their wins have come against the Royals and White Sox. Let this be another illustration of how early it is.||5||77-85|
|Just as we suspected, they're likely to be pretty fun to watch -- more often than not -- while losing more games than they win.||1||93-69|
|Luis Castillo looked like he was developing into an ace last season as a rookie. Through two starts this year, he has a 9.00 ERA. It's two starts, Reds fans. Don't give up. He'll be a stud. Mark my words.||2||83-79|
|They're better than their record says they are, but they aren't good. There are at least two really hard-luck losses in there and the Padres have only played expected contenders to this point.||1||79-83|
|What happened to Alex Gordon remains one of the more baffling things we've seen in years.||1||74-88|
|OK, so they've only played the Red Sox and Yankees, but just look at that roster. They are awful.||6||100-62|
|I definitely thought they'd be worse than 3-6, but it's a long season and a .333 winning percentage extrapolates to a 54-win season. That might be about right.||--||67-95|