As I hinted last week in these power rankings, welcome to the most difficult week to rank the teams. Now, with most teams having played either eight or nine games, we don't have such a tiny sample that we need to stick with the preseason rankings, but it's still only around 5% of the season.
I like to say around this time that we can react without overreacting. I will be ranking based mostly on what we've seen to this point, but this will not read like a standings page. The sample of games is just too small. If we tried to earnestly follow just the head-to-head matchups we've seen, we'd go cross-eyed in a veritable heartbeat.
The Phillies took two of three from the Reds. The Reds took two of three from the Pirates. The Pirates swept the Red Sox. The Red Sox took two of three from the Orioles. The Orioles took two of three from the Rangers. The Rangers swept the Phillies.
Also, the Yankees took two of three from the Giants. The Giants took two of three from the White Sox. The Giants were also swept by the Royals, who lost three of four to the Blue Jays, who lost two of three to the Cardinals, who were swept by the Braves, who lost three of four to the Padres.
Are the Tigers the best team listed above? Hardly. We should never try the transitive property game in sports but baseball is the worst place possible for it.
Of course, I suppose we could complete the circle and note that the Tigers were swept by the Rays.
The Rays actually are the No. 1 team right now and it's not particularly close.
This doesn't mean I think they will be the best team in baseball when the dust settles after 162 or that they'll win the World Series. This simply means they've played the best baseball so far in 2023 and that counts for something. They've earned it.
Now, I'm not going to gloss over the incredibly easy schedule they've been blessed with to start the year. The Nationals, A's and Tigers might well be the three worst teams in baseball this year. They were among the handful-plus teams not really trying to win this season and it shows. Even when they don't play the Rays, those three teams are a combined 7-12 (.368, which is a 162-game pace of a 102-loss team).
Then again, teams play the schedule in front of them and the best teams take care of business against the bad teams. A merely good team would be something like 6-3 with that schedule right now. The Rays are 9-0 and have bludgeoned their opponents to a bloody pulp with an absurd +57 run differential. Only 10 teams had a better run differential than that all season in 2022. This is legitimately one of the best starts in baseball history given the record and margin of victory.
And if we're gonna focus on that schedule, didn't I just say the Astros dropped two of three to the Tigers? That happened in Houston!
There's only one right answer at the top right now and it's the Tampa Bay Rays.
|With the way Jeffrey Springs is throwing -- and we all know about Shane McClanahan -- and Tyler Glasnow coming back in May, this is a potentially deadly playoff rotation.||4||95-61|
|If it weren't for the Rays, the Brewers might be the top dog in the discussion for who has had the most impressive start to the season. They took two of three in Wrigley before sweeping the Mets and taking two of three from the Cardinals. Top shelf stuff, Crew.||10||88-67|
|What's the goal in baseball? Just keep winning series. The Yankees have taken two of three in each of their three series so far this season.||1||78-76|
|Just like that, they've won six of eight and took three of four on the road from what looks like one of the best teams in baseball.||--||76-79|
|They weren't above .500 for good until June 5 last season. In 2021, it took them until August. I don't think they'll be too worried about losing one series in April.||2||99-55|
|Every other team has played a home series, while The Blue Jays started the season with 10 games on the road. The crazy comeback on Sunday made for a very successful and impressive trip, from where I sit, in finishing 6-4.||7||86-69|
|How about that Pablo López acquisition, huh? An 0.73 ERA with 16 strikeouts in your first two starts with a new team is a pretty decent way to win over a fan base.||3||82-73|
|The Guardians have played 10 games so far this season. They've gone into extra innings four times. One of the nine-inning games ended in a walkoff. They've already played five one-run games. They've still got a nose for the drama, huh?||1||74-82|
|Through 16 games last season, the Astros were 7-9. That game Sunday had a bit of a "sleeping giant starts to wake up" feeling to it, too.||8||85-70|
|It would probably be pretty annoying to play the same team eight of your first 10 games. It's likely much worse to go 3-5 when that opponent was supposed to be inferior. The good news, I guess, for the Dodgers is they don't have to play the Diamondbacks again until Aug. 8 (hilariously dumb scheduling, by the way).||2||95-59|
|They're gonna tease us again, aren't they? I'll have the ol' "fool me once" saying armed and ready.||3||70-85|
|As someone who has Kodai Senga in fantasy baseball, I'm going to choose to believe he'll be this dominant against every team, not just the Marlins. Speaking of which, it's tough to get a read on the Mets so far. They've gone 5-2 against the Marlins and gotten swept in Milwaukee.||5||71-84|
|It's difficult to put a worse start together than Kolten Wong has in his first eight games with the Mariners. He shouldn't be hitting his age-related decline quite yet at 32, so surely things turn around in the near future. Then again, two smart organizations have voluntarily parted ways with him since the 2020 season.||3||84-70|
|Jordan Walker is tied with Ted Williams for the second-longest hitting to streak to open a career at such a young age. He looks great. So does this offense, at times. The rotation concerns haven't been alleviated, however, and that was a really rough week.||8||68-87|
|They were tasked with playing the mighty Dodgers and Padres for the first 10 games of the season. Those pesky Diamondbacks took six of those 10 games. They're gonna bother contenders all season and might even be one themselves.||4||81-73|
|If there was an MVP through the first eight games of a season, it would be absurd. But Adam Duvall likely would've won it this year and he wasn't signed with the Red Sox until Jan. 24. That slash right now sits at a cool .455/.514/1.030 and he's driven home 14 runs with 11 scored.||1||76-79|
|Adley Rutschman already has two games with at least four hits this season. He joins Pedro Severino (four times), Elrod Hendricks, Rick Dempsey, Floyd Rayford, Charles Johnson, Javier Lopez and Matt Wieters as the only catchers to ever pull this off for the Orioles. It's been nine games.||4||96-59|
|The Dansby Swanson addition looks amazing so far. The Jameson Taillon signing does not.||5||81-74|
|Early boom or bust offense! In their four losses, the Rangers scored just five total runs. In their five wins, they've averaged 8.4 runs per game (and one of those, a 2-1 win, is dragging the number way down and belongs in the "bust" category for the offense).||8||86-68|
|A three-run eighth inning helped them avoid being swept at home by the lowly Royals, but that's still a pretty terrible series. Maybe they can make things right now with the Dodgers coming to town.||--||77-78|
|The amazing Bryan Reynolds start and overall 6-3 record is totally overshadowed by the awful news on Oneil Cruz's ankle. What a total bummer. And, no, I'm not going any higher here until the sample is much bigger.||5||74-81|
|A contender shouldn't go 2-4 in a week against the Giants at home and the Pirates anywhere. The White Sox are now 0-2-1 in their three series. Maybe we notice it more now than if this was just a two-series sample in the middle of the June, but it's still a pretty underwhelming week.||7||59-96|
|The record isn't good, obviously, but that is a pretty tough schedule to start the season. It's possible they'll be a nuisance like those pesky Diamondbacks. We'll see.||1||80-75|
|I've talked about some of the most impressive teams so far. The Phillies might be the least impressive team, especially viewed through the lens of expectations vs. performance. They're gonna miss Rhys Hoskins while Bryce Harper will show up sometime before the All-Star break. Ranger Suárez's return to the rotation will help, too, but so many players already on the active roster just need to play better. They did take the series over the Reds, so maybe it's a start -- then again, it was the Reds at home and they stole that game Saturday.||6||86-69|
|Nick Lodolo has 21 strikeouts with a 1.50 ERA and 0.84 WHIP in 12 innings so far. The 6-foot-6 lefty looks every bit that dominant and imposing, too.||1||79-77|
|Kris Bryant is hitting .300 but only slugging .375. He hasn't slugged over .500 since 2019 and still doesn't have a home run in Coors Field since signing with the Rockies. Remember when he hit 39 homers in 2016 and won MVP?||1||56-98|
|They aren't good anyway, but the slow starts from MJ Melendez and Bobby Witt have really hurt.||2||53-102|
|They have a dude named Stone Garrett who is hitting .583 with a 1.000 slugging, so they've got that going for them, which is nice.||1||68-87|
|I got eliminated from my Survivor (or Knockout or whatever you want to call it) pool this past season when the Chiefs beat the Colts. As I watched the rest of the season unfold, I became more and more bitter because it was truly the dumbest result of the entire season and that's what cost me. The Tigers winning a series in Houston could be our baseball version of such a result. Regardless, I wouldn't have much to say about the Tigers anyway.||1||72-83|
|The good news is they don't have to deal with the Rays again until June 12. The bad news is every team on the A's schedule is better than they are, which, really, means it's a relentless and brutal schedule.||2||48-107|