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10 biggest winners of baseball's opening week

April 10, 2016

You can't win anything in a single week. You can't even lose anything. If you think that makes these first few days of a new season unimportant, guess again, Captain America.These first days can begin to set a tone for an entire season. They can instill a bit of confidence

You can't win anything in a single week. You can't even lose anything. If you think that makes these first few days of a new season unimportant, guess again, Captain America.
These first days can begin to set a tone for an entire season. They can instill a bit of confidence in a group that could use some.
Teams can take these first steps and build on them a day at a time. In that way, the opening week matters to some teams more than others.
Let's check out 10 winners of this opening lap:
1. Orioles
No team had a more distressing Spring Training, especially in terms of constructing a competitive starting rotation and filling holes in the offense. No matter how many times Adam Jones cautioned us against reading too much into what was happening, it was impossible not to be concerned.
And then when the real lights were turned on, the Orioles were transformed. If nothing else, a perfect start should calm their fans and boost the clubhouse vibe. The last time the O's started the season 5-0 was in 1970, when they won the World Series.
Baltimore's rotation has been one of the best in baseball (2.28 ERA) thanks to a string of solid starts, including two from Chris Tillman, who again looks like a bona fide No. 1.
And that huge hole in left field? Joey Rickard, an protected Rule 5 Draft pickup from the Rays, is hitting .467 with a double and a home run.
Yes, it's early, but no club should be encouraged by this opening week than the Birds.

2. Rookies
How cool is this? One week into a new season, and we've been introduced to another new generation of amazingly gifted young players.
Check 'em out:
• Rockies shortstop Trevor Story (seven home runs and 12 RBIs in six games).
• Astros first baseman Tyler White (two doubles, three home runs, .556 batting average).
• Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager (.333 batting average).
• Dodgers pitcher Kenta Maeda (six shutout innings and a home run in his Major League debut).
• Cardinals outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker (two home runs, .400 batting average).
• Rickard (home run, double, .444 batting average).

3. Cubs
The Cubs showed us they're who we thought they were. They're 5-1 with the second-highest scoring offense and a pitching staff with the fifth-lowest ERA. They are deep and talented, a nearly perfect blend of youth and experience.
But this first week will be remembered as bitterly disappointing. To lose slugger Kyle Schwarber for the season to a knee injury removes a potentially franchise-type slugger from the lineup. The Cubs have more than enough to overcome the injury. But Schwarber is a special talent, and his presence gave them baseball's deepest lineup.

4. Dodgers
Andrew Friedman constructed baseball's deepest pitching staff, but there were still questions after a string of spring injuries tested that depth. So far, so good. The Dodgers finished the first week with a 1.83 ERA from the rotation. Clayton Kershaw has had two Kershaw-type starts, while Scott Kazmir, Ross Stripling and Maeda have all been solid.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers have been reminded about the wisdom of not trading Yasiel Puig. He's the type of talent every team is attempting to acquire and is the biggest reason the Dodgers are leading the National League in runs. Puig is off to a 10-for-26 start (.385).

5. Giants
This may be the deepest lineup and best offense manager Bruce Bochy has had in San Francisco. We saw glimpses of it last season until injuries gutted the roster. Now, the Giants are second in the NL in home runs and first in runs. Meanwhile, San Francisco's bullpen has a 1.59 ERA, and with a decent start by Matt Cain in the opening week, the Giants are feeling good about things.

6. Yankees' bullpen
Even without closer Aroldis Chapman, the Yankees have the AL's best bullpen with a 1.04 ERA. Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller haven't allowed a run in five appearances. Neither has Chasen Shreve and newcomer Johnny Barbato. When Chapman returns, one of baseball's best bullpens will be even better.

7. Reds
There's always a different dynamic around teams willing to turn playing time over to younger players. The Reds are especially interesting since they still have Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips. Alfredo Simon, Raisel Iglesias and Brandon Finnegan have all been good. Bruce is off to a great start, and so are shortstop Eugenio Suarez and left fielder Scott Schebler. Logic says the Reds can't hang with the Pirates, Cubs and Cardinals in the NL Central, but logic says they wouldn't be 5-1 either.

8. Carlos Correa
Correa, 21, lost the distinction of being baseball's youngest player when the Rangers called up 20-year-old outfielder Nomar Mazara on Sunday. Correa will have to settle for being arguably the best player in the game. At the very least, there's no conversation about baseball's best player without him. Correa entered Monday hitting .304 with a 1.099 OPS and three home runs and two stolen bases.

9. Royals
Has any defending champion gotten less respect? After back-to-back American League pennants, lots of people penciled in the Royals to finish four or fifth in the AL Central. They're off to a 4-1 start, extending one of the great streaks of baseball ever played. Since July 30, 2014, Kansas City is 157-98, including the postseason. The Royals show no signs of slowing down.

10. Padres
You may be wondering how a team with a 2-4 record could be one of the first week's winners. In their first three games of the season, the Padres were outscored by the Dodgers, 25-0. Forget needing a victory. San Diego went to Colorado needing a run. On Friday and Saturday, the Padres outscored the Rockies, 29-9, and looked the way a club with Matt Kemp and Wil Myers is supposed to look.

Richard Justice is a columnist for Read his blog, Justice4U.