Ten games is nothing in a Major League Baseball season. Interesting trends can emerge, but the samples are often too small to make any definitive judgements. At this point in the year, we’re lucky if all five pitchers in a rotation have made two starts. Do you really want to judge pitchers after just two starts?
That uncertainty makes it tough to know which teams will keep up their surprising starts. Maybe the New York Mets are finally healthy and ready to make a run. Maybe the Los Angeles Dodgers will be defeated by their World Series hangover.
But, hey, things can change easily. One five-game streak can drastically change a team’s outlook at this point in the year. Because of that, preseason predictions are still playing a role in our MLB Power Rankings. We’re not ready to put the Dodgers among the worst teams in the majors … yet … but they are officially on notice. If they want to move up, they have to get it together on the field.
The reigning World Series champion Houston Astros haven’t had that issue, which is why we still have them in the top spot.
1. Houston Astros (9-4; last week: 1)
We know the offense is good and the pitching is deep. But have the Astros unlocked the potential of Gerrit Cole? He’s looked unbeatable thus far — with 22 strikeouts and only run allowed in two starts. With Justin Verlander also looking great, Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa hitting, the Astros look as dangerous as ever.
2. Boston Red Sox (9-1; last week: 3)
Remember the last time the Red Sox lost? Might be tough. It was opening day. Since then, nothing but wins. Nine straight, including a 14-1 pounding of the Yankees on Tuesday night. They’re the only team in the top 5 for both team ERA and runs scored. You can see how that might lead to win.
3. Arizona Diamondbacks (9-3; last week: 8)
The Diamondbacks have our full attention now. While everyone expected the Dodgers to be the team to beat in the West, we’re not so sure anymore. Patrick Corbin is relying heavily on his breaking stuff, and Zack Godley is building on last year’s breakout. On offense, A.J. Pollock is healthy, and that makes a big difference.
4. New York Mets (9-1; last week: 12)
They’ve jumped from No. 12 to No. 4 this week and with good reason — they haven’t lost in more than a week. The Mets entered play Wednesday with seven straight wins. A big part of that is their 2.61 team ERA, which is fourth-best in MLB.
5. Los Angeles Angels (9-3; last week: 11)
Shohei Ohtani has dominated the headlines, and that’s totally fair. But the entire offense is humming right now. Andrelton Simmons has collected a hit in all but one game to open the season. The scariest part: The Angels have the best offense in baseball without Mike Trout going full Mike Trout yet.
6. Chicago Cubs (5-5; last week: 6)
The Cubs look pretty ho-hum lately — all the promise is there, but the results haven’t been spectacular. They’re middle of the pack in runs scored, barely in the top 10 of ERA. But they’re better than both of those.
7. New York Yankees (5-6; last week: 4)
On one hand, the Yankees have been sort of disappointing this season. On the other hand, they’ve maintained that disappointment at a level that’s not crippling. For as bad as Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez have been, they’re still just 5-6. We’re still ranking them higher than they deserve based on the fact that when they’ve been good, they’ve been really good.
8. Washington Nationals (6-6; last week: 2)
After a brutal five-game losing streak, the Nationals seem to have righted the ship. But the road to winning the NL East might be tougher than expected. The Braves and Mets look better than people predicted, and the Nationals have already been hit with a fair amount of injuries.
9. Cleveland Indians (6-5; last week: 7)
Last season’s ultra-dependable Cleveland lineup is not hitting at all in 2018. The team has combined for a .158/.252/.284 slash line thus far. Three players have batting averages over .200, and none of them are named Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez or Edwin Encarnacion.
10. Toronto Blue Jays (8-4; last week: 16)
A return to health has the Blue Jays looking feisty again. J.A. Happ, Marco Estrada and Aaron Sanchez all seem rejuvenated after injury-riddled seasons. Offseason acquisitions Yangervis Solarte and Curtis Granderson have already contributed in big ways. And the team still has Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette patiently waiting in the minors.
11. Pittsburgh Pirates (8-2; last week: 13)
Nobody expected the Pirates to be this good. They’re leading the NL Central and have the fourth-best run differential (+22) in baseball. Some people might have guessed they’d fade after their hot start, but so far, the Pirates aren’t slowing down.
12. Los Angeles Dodgers (4-6; last week: 5)
They’re still a good and talented team, but it’s hard to ignore the slow start. They’ve won two straight entering play Wednesday, but before that had lose four straight in their division. The glaring issue: They’ve scored the fifth fewest runs in MLB.
13. Milwaukee Brewers (7-6; last week: 9)
Maybe April is just Eric Thames’ month. After completely dominating early last year, Thames is once again destroying pitchers. He’s already smashed five home runs and his slugging percentage is over .700.
14. Atlanta Braves (7-5; last week: 19)
Hold up, are the Braves good right now? It’s been tough to argue with the team’s offense. Even Ryan Flaherty and Preston Tucker are mashing. Uber-prospect Ronald Acuña isn’t up yet, but we have a hunch that will happen soon … like Saturday, maybe. We don’t know if they’ll crack our top-10 soon, but we’re watching them a lot more closely.
15. Colorado Rockies (6-7; last week: 14)
As Luis Perdomo can attest, no one is more upset about the Rockies’ slow start than Nolan Arenado.
16. Minnesota Twins (6-4; last week: 10)
Byron Buxton is doing it again. After tantalizing the baseball world with his talents last year, he’s hitting under .200 and his strikeout rate hasn’t shown much improvement. Buxton has been defined by wild swings in production over his young career. It would be nice to finally see some consistency, but we have a feeling we’re in for a bumpy ride once again.
17. St. Louis Cardinals (5-7; last week: 18)
The Cardinals are middle-of-the-pack in a lot of statistics at this point, but give them credit for this: They’ve played the Mets, Brewers and D-backs thus far, all teams that are either really good or pretty good. Four games with the Reds, beginning Thursday, could be a welcome relief.
18. Seattle Mariners (6-4; last week: 15)
Despite sporting one of the worst ERAs in baseball thus far, the Mariners are still winning more than they’re losing. They’re hitting and getting on base, and while it hasn’t translated into an abundance of runs (they’re 20th in the league) it’s enough to think the Mariners could be better.
19. Philadelphia Phillies (5-5; last week: 24)
After a rocky first week, Gabe Kapler seems to be settling in now. He’s toned back on the extreme reliever usage, and has found the right balance to have success. Aaron Nola went eight innings and threw 103 pitches in his last outing. These are all really positive signs moving forward.
20. San Francisco Giants (5-6; last week: 26)
For a team that has lost three of its starting pitchers to injury at this point, the Giants’ pitching has actually been pretty good. They’ve had a hard time scoring runs, but Buster Posey is hitting well and Andrew McCutchen has given them two exciting walk-off wins in the past four games. That’s promising.
21. Detroit Tigers (4-6; last week: 27)
People expected the Tigers to struggle this season, but it has to be concerning to fans that Miguel Cabrera hasn’t looked like his old self. The 35-year-old has hit just .243/.310/.405 to open the season. Injuries have played a role in his decline the past few years, but he’s supposed to be healthy right now. It’s early, but this is troublesome.
22. Baltimore Orioles (4-8; last week: 20)
Take Manny Machado off the Orioles and who knows how ugly it would be. The O’s aren’t hitting or pitching particularly well these days (they’re in the bottom third of the league in ERA and runs scored). Only Machado — who has a .963 OPS and three homers — is keeping them anywhere near respectability at this point.
23. Oakland Athletics (4-8; last week: 25)
Oakland has been hitting and getting on-base, but the pitching has still been a challenge. When they’re playing the Rangers, they look decent, but when they’re playing teams like the Angels and Dodgers, they look clearly overmatched.
24. Kansas City Royals (3-7; last week: 30)
Look, the Royals aren’t going to be a good team this season, but after a horrible start, they’ve had some decent moments in the past week. They’ve won three out of their last seven games and they beat the Mariners 10-0.
25. Texas Rangers (4-9; last week: 22)
The Rangers have been playing more like the Marlins than you might realize. And spoiler alert, that’s not great. The Rangers and the Marlins are the only teams to give up 70 runs so far this season. It’s actually surprising they’ve won four games allowing so many runs.
26. Chicago White Sox (4-7; last week: 17)
After a promising first few games, the White Sox look like everyone expects. But there have been promising developments. Matt Davidson looks improved at the plate. Tim Anderson is capable of drawing walks. Reynaldo Lopez has a killer secondary pitch. But there are still too many flaws, and the bullpen is atrocious.
27. San Diego Padres (4-9; last week: 29)
After a rough first week, closer Brad Hand is back to his dominant self. That’s huge for the Padres. He’s not only one of their best players, but he’s the one guy still on the roster who could bring back a significant piece at the deadline.
28. Cincinnati Reds (2-8; last week: 28)
The Reds have lost three in a row and are rolling with an ERA that’s the worst in baseball — 6.04. There’s not much reason to think things will get drastically better either.
29. Miami Marlins (3-8; last week: 23)
We haven’t ranked them last … yet, but some of the optimism from their first week has worn off. Taking a 20-1 beating from the Phillies will do that.
30. Tampa Bay Rays (3-9; last week: 21)
If increased bullpen usage is the key to your team’s success, maybe make sure you have a good bullpen first.
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