Power Rankings: There's already a shakeup at the top

April 8th, 2024

Whew! It has been 10 days since Opening Day, and has it ever been a whirlwind. There are teams off to torrid starts, there are teams that haven’t really gotten out of the starting gate yet and there is Juan Soto … well, being Juan Soto.

If you had trouble keeping track of all of it, well, your fine friends at the Power Rankings are here to help. Here are our first rankings since games have begun: We’ll be back to weekly from now on. The rankings themselves are compiled from MLB.com contributors whose names you can find at the bottom of this (and every) piece, but the words are mine. If you dislike the rankings, yell at all of us. But if you dislike the words, feel free to yell at me.

A week-and-a-half in … here’s how we look.

1) Dodgers (previously: 2). Ten days in, and Mookie Betts leads baseball in essentially every major statistical category: Hits, runs, home runs … even walks. It’s that last one that’s particularly impressive, all told, considering the guy who is hitting behind him in that lineup: It’s not like there’s any particular advantage to pitching around Betts. Speaking of Shohei Ohtani, he’s “only” putting up a .944 OPS, which would have been top 25 in baseball last year but currently puts him only third on his own team.

2) Braves (previously: 1). It was quite the one-two rotation punch for the Braves: They lost Spencer Strider to a UCL injury on Friday and then watched Max Fried give up six runs in the first inning on Saturday. This is surely going to cause them some long-term problems -- that nice Chris Sale performance on Sunday will help, though -- but fittingly the Braves went ahead and swept their weekend series over the defending National League champions anyway. They’ve got three guys in their lineup right now with an OPS over 1.000 … and none of them are Ronald Acuña Jr. or Austin Riley. (They’re Matt Olson, Marcell Ozuna and Michael Harris II. The Braves are insane.)

3) Yankees (previously: 7). Well, well, look who’s back. While many people wrote them off in the wake of Gerrit Cole’s injury, the Yankees went out and swept the Astros -- of all teams, their historical antagonist -- in four games in Houston to start the season. Just to make sure everybody knew they weren’t kidding around, they then won series against two 2023 playoff teams, the D-backs and the Blue Jays, for good measure. Perhaps most encouraging? The team leader in home runs is Giancarlo Stanton, who sure looked like his old self against the Jays over the weekend.

4) Rangers (previously: 5). You really have to just feel terrible for Josh Jung, who has dealt with freak injury after freak injury, now fracturing his wrist and likely missing the next two months at least. He was so upset after this one -- he had been off to such a good start -- that he couldn’t even take questions from reporters, instead reading off the Notes app on his phone. How upset was he? He actually said, “The frustration was unbearable. The anger is rage.” If all goes well, though, he’ll be back around the same time as those starting pitchers the Rangers are waiting on, the ultimate “it’s like making a trade at the deadline” returns. The Rangers, the way they’re going, may still be in first place by then too.

5) Orioles (previously: 3). An early warning sign for the Orioles’ vaunted young offense? They are currently ranked 29th in on-base percentage, ahead of only the White Sox. It’s in large part the young infielders off to slow starts: Jordan Westburg and Gunnar Henderson are a combined 13-for-65 so far. Just out of curiosity, let’s check and see how Jackson Holliday is doing down in Triple-A Norfolk … oh, look, he’s got a .490 OBP down there, how about that?

6) Phillies (previously: 4). Perhaps Trea Turner needs to put up another billboard? He’s off to a tough start again in Philly, hitting .222 with no homers and 12 strikeouts so far. Hard to single him out, though: The Phillies are hitting only .229 as a team. We do like those City Connect jerseys, though.

7) Tigers (previously: 20). Whoa, that’s quite a leap up the ole Power Rankings! One wonders if our voters maybe missed the last couple games, when they lost two at home to the A’s, but there are still plenty of signs of life in Detroit: Tarik Skubal sure looks like a Cy Young favorite right now, doesn’t he?

8) Astros (previously: 6). Our voters are not sweating the slow start, but seriously, it has been extremely slow: This start marked the first time the Astros were five games under .500 since June 2016, the last year they missed the playoffs (and the year before they won the World Series). The alarm bells continue for José Abreu: He’s 2-for-26 to start the year after having, by far, the worst year of his career in 2023.

9) Cubs (previously: 12). There’s no one in the NL Central under .500 right now, which has hidden a little bit how well the (currently third-place) Cubs have been playing. They’ve now won six of their last seven, including a very impressive two out of three against the Dodgers over the weekend.

10) Guardians (previously: 21). We’ll see how long they can keep it together without Shane Bieber, but the Guardians have been terrific on the mound this year, with a 2.28 team ERA, second in baseball. They’ve also given up only four homers, tied for the fewest in the game; maybe their famously homer-deficient offense is becoming contagious.

11) Pirates (previously: 25). Are the Pirates the best story in the sport right now? It was one thing to wipe out the Marlins and Nationals: Taking two of three from the Orioles is a jolly roger of a different color. They have a fun two-game series with fellow Central Division early-season surprise Detroit starting on Monday.

12) Brewers (previously: 19). Even with his bounceback year last year, it has been assumed that Christian Yelich was unlikely to return to his MVP state. But he is hitting the ball with a lot of authority right now: He has three homers, and, impressively, only six strikeouts to go with them. Jackson Chourio is producing the highlights, but it’s Yelich and William Contreras who are carrying this team.

13) Diamondbacks (previously: 10). All that excitement in The Bronx and Atlanta came at the expense of the Diamondbacks, who lost five of six from two of the hottest teams playing right now. Ironically, the D-backs are playing backwards from last year, when they famously made the World Series despite being outscored: Right now they’ve outscored their opponents by 16 runs … but have a losing record.

14) Blue Jays (previously: 8). Somebody has to be last in the AL East, and after getting drilled by the Yankees over the weekend, the Blue Jays currently have the misfortune. More worrisome: They were outscored by the Astros, a team with its own problems right now, 19-2 last week and were no-hit in one of those games.

15) Reds (previously: 15). What a world, when the long-disparaged NL Central has four teams in the top half of the Power Rankings. (And the team that’s not in the top half is at .500.) Spencer Steer (1.313 OPS) has all of a sudden transformed into Babe Ruth. Their four-game home series with the Brewers starting on Monday should be fascinating.

16) Red Sox (previously: 22). If there’s a team that should have been shooting up these Power Rankings the way the Guardians and Tigers did, maybe it should be the Red Sox? Do you realize the Red Sox have a 1.49 team ERA right now? Their starting pitching has been excellent, but it’s their bullpen that has been blowing people away: The entire bullpen has only given up six earned runs so far. Six!

17) Rays (previously: 9). The Rays clawed their way back to .500 thanks to the largesse of the Colorado Rockies this weekend, but there are signs of worry: They have a 5.24 team ERA right now, including the fourth-most walks per game in the sport, definitely not something you expect from the Rays staff.

18) Royals (previously: 24). If you’re going to get four home games in a row with the White Sox, you best take advantage of them, and the Royals surely did, sweeping the Pale Hose. The starting pitching has been the primary driver of their success, along with MJ Melendez, who gave the Royals the lead in the final three wins of that series.

19) Padres (previously: 14). Don’t look now, but Fernando Tatis Jr. is hitting the ball harder than he did even before his suspension. This was a guy many thought was the future of baseball two years ago: Since he has returned, he has just kept getting better and better.

20) Twins (previously: 13). The Twins have stumbled out of the gate a bit, but don’t blame Carlos Correa: He currently has a .533 OBP, the best in baseball. (Even better than Mookie.)

21) Mariners (previously: 11). The Mariners are striking out in 30 percent of their plate appearances, which, even in today’s game, makes it hard to win. Jerry Dipoto isn’t worried yet: “Our guys don’t feel like we’re at DEFCON 1.” OK, how about DEFCON 3?

22) Cardinals (previously: 18). The Cardinals’ defense has been terrific so far and is the primary reason they’re not under .500. Worrisome? Two of the three “innings eaters” they added to their rotation over the winter, Kyle Gibson and Lance Lynn, gave up a combined 11 runs in their two starts at Busch this weekend. (At least Gibson threw a total of six innings after being torched for seven runs in the first two innings.)

23) Giants (previously: 17). Jung Hoo Lee may eventually be the spark plug this team was looking for, but so far he’s hitting .205 with no stolen bases.

24) Angels (previously: 26). Who says Mike Trout lost a superstar? Logan O’Hoppe is scorching right now, hitting .407 and sitting among the top offensive catchers in baseball in just about every category.

25) Mets (previously: 16). The rain in Queens gave the Mets’ season a halting, stumbling quality to start off, which may have led to some of the defensive issues that have caused them so much trouble. They best figure them out quickly: They have four in Atlanta this week.

26) Nationals (previously: 27). We’ll talk about the current Nationals plenty this year, but let’s not let the retirement of Stephen Strasburg pass without one last shoutout to the man. This was once the electric prospect in baseball -- remember, his college coach was Tony Gwynn! -- and his first start remains one of the more memorable debuts in baseball history. Oh, also, they wouldn’t have won their only World Series without him. Happy trails, ‘Stras.

27) Marlins (previously: 23). They finally got off the schneid with a win in St. Louis on Sunday, allowing them to avoid starting the season 0-10. But add that record to the Eury Pérez news, and sheesh, it’s tough to see how 2024 could have begun worse for this 2023 playoff team.

28) White Sox (previously: 28). There were some snickers when Garrett Crochet was named the team’s Opening Day starter, but he has been excellent so far, giving up four runs in 18 innings. He also has a win. The problem is that it’s the only win the team has.

29) Rockies (previously: 29). All right, so Kris Bryant is hitting .107 so far, going 3-for-28. However! Did you see the homer he hit on Friday? When he signed, you imagined that happening 40 times a year. (He currently has 16 homers in three seasons as a Rockie.)

30) A’s (previously: 30). It was a tumultuous week for the A’s, but there are plenty of reasons to watch this team, not least of which is closer Mason Miller, who has jaw-droppingly electric stuff.

Voters: Nathalie Alonso, Anthony Castrovince, Mark Feinsand, Alyson Footer, Doug Gausepohl, Sarah Langs, Will Leitch, Travis Miller, Arturo Pardavila, Mike Petriello, Manny Randhawa, Andrew Simon, David Venn.