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Power Rankings: Mets, Pirates making moves

April 10, 2018

It's probably time to stop talking about how the Mets are hurt all the time and start recognizing them for what they have been so far in this young season: one of the better teams in the Majors.The Mets are 8-1 in their first nine games for only the third

It's probably time to stop talking about how the Mets are hurt all the time and start recognizing them for what they have been so far in this young season: one of the better teams in the Majors.
The Mets are 8-1 in their first nine games for only the third time in franchise history. If their predecessors' fates provide any sort of foreshadow, this could be a good year for rookie manager Mickey Callaway and Co. The 1985 Mets turned their 8-1 start into a 98-win season, setting the stage for an even better year in '86. The 2006 Mets also started 8-1, and they went on to win 97 games and the National League East title.

Our weekly Power Rankings feature the Mets at No. 10, up one spot from last week. Too low? Perhaps. The weekly rankings weigh not only how the teams are performing in present times, but also how we see them winding up at the end of the season. A top-10 ranking means we see them qualifying for the postseason. But are they one of the elite teams?
If they have another couple of weeks like they had the past 10 days, then the answer would have to be a definitive yes.
The Mets have a team ERA of 2.25, second best in the Majors, behind only Houston's 1.82. They have allowed only 21 earned runs, second to the Astros, who have given up 20. In their past six games, Mets relievers have permitted two earned runs over 26 innings for an 0.69 ERA.

It's still early, but the Mets are looking like a force in a division some of us all but handed to the Nationals long before the first pitch was thrown. The NL East could turn into a dogfight, and the outcome may depend on whoever manages to keep the most players on the field. So far, the Mets are in good shape.
Biggest jump: The Pirates jumped a whopping seven spots, from 20 to 13. The Bucs have won seven of their first nine games to begin the season for the first time since 1993. Among Pittsburgh's top performers is starter Jameson Taillon, who pitched a one-hit shutout over the Reds on Sunday.

Biggest drop: The Dodgers and Cardinals each dropped four spots. The Dodgers, who ended a four-game skid on Sunday with a 2-1 win over the Giants, fell from No. 2 to No. 6. The Cardinals, who have produced an unspectacular 4-6 record, went from No. 8 to No. 12. Monday's 10-inning loss to the Brewers featured a poor Cards debut for Greg Holland, who walked four of five batters he faced after entering a tie game in the final frame.
The Power Rankings Top 5
1. Astros (1 last week)
The reigning World Series champs are off to one of their best starts, mainly due to a dominant rotation that has produced a 1.64 ERA, the lowest in the Majors. Entering play on Monday, the Astros were also one of four teams to get at least five innings from their starter in every game this season, joining the White Sox, Pirates and D-backs.

2. Red Sox (6)
The Red Sox are off to an 8-1 start for the first time in team history, but after opening the season with series against the Rays and Marlins, they'll have their first real test this week when they host the division-rival Yankees for a three-game matchup at Fenway Park. In addition to its rotation emerging as one of the best so far, Boston's defense has been top-notch as well. The Red Sox are the only team to have not committed an error yet this season.

3. Nationals (3)
The Nats' high placement in the Power Rankings is more reflective of how we think they'll end up, and not necessarily how they've performed of late. The Nationals did not have a good week, stringing together a five-game skid that began with two losses to the Braves and ended with a sweep by the visiting Mets. Max Scherzer saved the day and the bullpen on Monday, pitching a 2-0 shutout over the Braves. But challenges will continue for the Nats, who will play the Rockies, Mets and Dodgers after their current series with Atlanta.

4. Cubs (5)
It's probably a little too early to say the Cubs have found their groove, but taking three of four from the host Brewers over the weekend surely gave them a boost. They're among the league leaders in postponed games (two) and bullpen ERA, posting a Major League-low 0.94 mark. Cubs relievers have allowed four runs over 38 1/3 innings.

5. Yankees (4)
So far, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are on opposite ends in terms of how their seasons have started. Judge is slashing .346/.514/.615 over his past seven games, while Stanton, who was hitless in seven at-bats against the Orioles on Sunday with five strikeouts, is batting just .100 with 17 strikeouts during the same span. On the pitching side, the rotation -- easily the biggest question mark entering the season -- has performed well, posting the sixth-lowest ERA in the AL at 3.19.

The rest of the top 20

  1. Dodgers (2)
  2. D-backs (9)
  3. Indians (7)
  4. Angels (10)
  5. Mets (11)
  6. Blue Jays (13)
  7. Cardinals (8)
  8. Pirates (20)
  9. Brewers (12)
  10. Rockies (15)
  11. Twins (14)
  12. Giants (17)
  13. Mariners (16)
  14. Braves (NR)
  15. White Sox (NR)

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.