No. 1 in Power Rankings is no shock. But after that ...

April 10th, 2023

The season is less than two weeks old, and with so few games crossed off the schedule, our rankings are where they always are this time of year – all over the place.  

It’s way too early to glean much from the standings, except to state the obvious: Preseason expectations don’t always match up with early returns. That appears to be the case again this year, with presumed contenders such as the Astros, Mariners and Cardinals off to pedestrian starts, while the Pirates and D-backs, non-contenders in recent years, have had nice runs to open 2023.

Biggest jump: The Rays jumped a whopping 10 spots, from No. 11 to No. 1. They’re off to a scorching start, and the offense has had a lot to do with it – they have 24 homers in their first nine games of the season. In 2022, they didn’t reach that mark until their 27th game.

Biggest drop: Three teams dropped five spots: The Astros (No. 1 to No. 6), Phillies (No. 8 to No. 13) and Mariners (No. 9 to No. 14). The Mariners have had only two opponents so far – the Guardians and Angels. They opened the season losing three of four to the Guardians, but they got back on track a little bit over the weekend, taking two of three in Cleveland.

Power Rankings Top 5:

1. Rays, 9-0 (last week: 11)

The Rays are off to one of the best starts in history; after handily beating the A’s on Sunday, 11-0, they improved to 9-0 and matched the 2003 Royals for the longest winning streak to start a season in the Wild Card era. Tampa’s +57 run differential is the highest in modern history for a team’s first nine games, surpassing Cleveland, which had a +44 run differential over the same stretch in 1999. The Rays have taken advantage of a weaker schedule and made it work for them – only six of their first 32 games are against teams that had winning records in 2022 (Toronto, Houston).

2. Braves, 6-4 (2)

This early in the season, it’s clearly less about the tangible first-week results than the track records of a handful of teams – the Braves included. Given the injuries they’re dealing with, and the strength of their division, the Braves will gladly take their top placement in the NL East. They started off strong, sweeping the Cardinals before losing three of four against the Padres. Individually, Matt Olson is off to a hot start, logging eight hits in 15 at-bats over his past four games heading into Sunday’s finale.

3. Dodgers, 5-5 (4)

We’re accustomed to seeing the Dodgers in the top 5, given they’ve been a powerhouse for more than a decade with organizational depth that has helped keep them relevant on a consistent basis. But by Los Angeles standards, this hasn’t been a great start, and that can be attributed mostly to pitching. The Dodgers just dropped three of four to Arizona, and in the final two games, Dodgers pitchers yielded 23 runs. If the arms catch up with the bats, they’ll be OK -- entering their 11-6 loss on Sunday, the Dodgers led the NL in homers, runs and slugging.

4. Yankees, 6-3 (6)

Though the slate is wiped clean with the start of a new season, sometimes a streak that continues from one year to the next is worth noting. Including his 3-for-4 performance on Sunday, Aaron Judge has reached base safely in a career-high 42 consecutive games, dating back to August 2022. That matches Mark Teixeira (2010) and Luke Voit (2018) for the longest on-base streak by a Yankee since 2009. Judge performed as expected over the weekend in Baltimore, homering twice in the Yankees’ 5-3 win in the finale. Since the start of the 2020 season, Judge is hitting .383 (31-for-81) with 15 homers at Camden Yards.

5. Padres, 6-4 (3)

It’s probably too early to label any road trip, or homestand for that matter, as “key.” So let’s just say the Padres did well in the first half of a challenging swing away from Petco Park, taking three of four in Atlanta before heading to New York, where they’ll open a three-game set with the Mets on Monday. Individually, Juan Soto is showing signs that he might be starting to heat up after a slow start. He homered in the Padres’ win over the Braves on Saturday and doubled to lead off the fifth inning in Sunday’s victory.

The rest of the field of 30:

  1. Astros (1)
  2. Blue Jays (7)
  3. Brewers (14)
  4. Mets (5)
  5. Twins (13)
  6. Guardians (12)
  7. Cardinals (10)
  8. Phillies (8)
  9. Mariners (9)
  10. Angels (17)
  11. Orioles (16)
  12. White Sox (15)
  13. Rangers (19)
  14. Giants (20)
  15. D-backs (21)
  16. Cubs (22)
  17. Red Sox (18)
  18. Marlins (23)
  19. Pirates (26)
  20. Reds (27)
  21. Royals (25)
  22. Rockies (28)
  23. Tigers (24)
  24. Nats (29)
  25. A’s (30)