MLB Power Rankings: Mets and others surprising teams early

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 10: Andrew Benintendi
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 10: Andrew Benintendi /

The MLB currently has three teams that missed the playoffs currently winning their divisions as we finish out the second full week of games in this adolescent season.

My take on the 2018 MLB season thus far? Baseball is random and fun. With teams like the Mets and Pirates leading their division while heavy NL favorites in the Nationals and Cubs struggle to get above .500 makes FanSided’s first MLB power rankings a bit of challenge.

However, as strange as the standings look right now, it’s still too early to assume teams like the Dodgers or Yankees will continue to struggle or that the Brave will be a top five time in runs scored.

So, with that in mind, let’s go over my first MLB Power Rankings of 2018.

30. Miami Marlins (3-9, last in the NL East)

The Marlins didn’t look awful to start the season, splitting their season-opening series with the Cubs, but since then have lost seven of their last eight games including a 20-1 stinker in Philadelphia last Saturday. Expect more games like that as the season goes on.

29. Tampa Bay Rays (3-9, last in the AL East)

Going with a three-man rotation and relying on the bullpen to start games, the Rays are looking like a team that wants to be bad. Especially since their relievers are not particularly good, allowing 27 runs in 52.1 innings of work.

28. Detroit Tigers (4-8, 4th in the AL Central)

Rotation is a mess behind Michael Fulmer and Matthew Boyd, but the biggest concern is Miguel Cabrera looking like a 35-year-old aging star and not the ‘Miggy’ who used to threaten pitchers with 40-home run power. Leonys Martin and Nick Castellanos have performed admirably so far but the rest of the roster isn’t great and Jordan Zimmerman continues to make Tigers GM Al Avila look bad with his atrocious 8.18 ERA in three starts.

27.  Cincinnati Reds (2-10, last in the NL Central)

The Reds losing Eugenio Saurez for an extended period of time hurts the club and likely Joey Votto’s fantasy impact, but the Reds aren’t expecting to compete anytime soon. Closer Raisel Iglesias has been filthy to start the season, registering nine strikeouts already with a lively fastball complimented well with a late-moving slider. Sadly, the Reds won’t be good enough to use Iglesias in many closing situations this season.

26. San Diego Padres (4-10, last in the NL West)

The Padres were in a dugout-clearing brawl with the Rockies earlier this week when starter Luis Perdomo threw behind superstar Nolan Arenado, who charged the mound. Outside of that fight, the Padres have been lackluster, despite both 1B Eric Hosmer and SS Freddy Glavis looking solid to start the season.

25. Kansas City Royals (3-8, last in the AL Central)

The Royals have lost half their games by two runs or less and outside of Mike Moustakas and Lucas Duda, their offense is nonexistent. However, they are not the worst team in baseball and with a rotation featuring Ian Kennedy, Danny Duffy, and young arm Jakob Junis should be enough to float to a slightly below .500 record. Their bullpen is a nightmare right now outside of closer Kelvin Herrera.

24. Philadelphia Phillies (6-5, 3rd in the NL East)

A slow start to the season, the Phillies are starting to heat back up, winning five of their last six games thanks in large part to their top position prospect INF Scott Kingery and Rhys Hoskins, who each have two homers on the season. Expect the Phillies to be much higher on this list next week.

23. Chicago White Sox (4-8, 3rd in the AL Central)

The south-siders avoided a series sweep against the lowly Ray and have competed in almost all their games to start the season. Slugger Matt Davidson is tied for 2nd in the league in home runs while still getting on-base at a .375 clip despite only batting .211. Sox pitching has been up and down with their young starters, who will likely decide how their season ends.

22. Texas Rangers (4-10, last in the AL West)

The Rangers will rotate through starters as they continue to ride the hot-hand of their collection of veteran starters. It was the 45-year-old Bartolo Colon who stepped up for Texas this week, who has only allowed two runs in one start and two relief appearances. Their offense has a lot of bats who get on baseball, but not many bats who are driving in runs. If someone in that lineup starts pushing runs across, the Rangers could surprise – but I doubt it.

21. Baltimore Orioles (5-8, 4th in the AL East)

Taking two of three from the Yankees and splitting their series with the Blue Jays have kept them in the division race for the moment, but the Orioles need much more. Their rotation outside of Dylan Bundy and Andrew Cashner has been terrible, their bullpen has been ok but is near the top of usage to start the season. Their offense is essentially just Manny Machado at the moment, but catcher Chance Sisco has been a nice surprise at the plate.

20. Oakland Athletics (5-8, 4th in the AL West)

Oakland’s starting pitching has been either fantastic or terrible, with Kendal Graveman and Daniel Mengdan combining for 25 runs allowed in three starts apiece. However, the bullpen looks like one of the best in the league at the moment. Their offense is top five in runs scored and their team on-base is solid at .337, but their starting pitching needs to improve or their offense needs to be ready to score 6+ runs a game.

19. Atlanta Braves (7-5, 2nd in the NL East)

The Braves were at one point leading the league in runs scored, they have since fallen to five with 68 runs, but Freddy Freeman is about as hot as anyone at the plate right now. Freeman is tied with Bryce Harper with 16 walks to start the season and his OBP is just below the Twins Joe Mauer for the league lead (among qualified hitters) at .518. Their pitching is likely overperforming, but if their offense continues to hit like this over the next month, imagine adding top prospect Ronald Acuna to this lineup? Could be a lot of fun, not sure it translates to wins quite yet for Atlanta.

18. San Francisco Giants (6-6, tied for 2nd in the NL West)

The injuries are starting to pile up for the Giants as both CF Austin Jackson and starter Jeff Samardzija are the latest to be added to the injury report. Samardzija will head to the 10-day DL, joining Johnny Cueto, Mark Melancon, and Will Smith. Buster Posey is doing his normal things, leading the team in RBI with 8, but their offense needs to come alive to help conquer all these early injuries.

17. Seattle Mariners (6-4, 3rd in the AL West)

Robinson Cano continues to crush, slashing .406/.537/.531 but he hasn’t shown much power to start the season, still homer-less to start the season. Dee Gordon has been terrific as a lead-off option, sporting a healthy .405 on-base percentage, but are missing their main RBI bat in Nelson Cruz. Once Cruz returns from the 10-DL, the Mariners offense should pair nicely with their bullpen which features Edwin Diaz, who looks like the leagues best closer so far.

16. St. Louis Cardinals (6-7, 4th in the NL Central)

The Cardinals bullpen might end up being a sore spot for the club, despite signing veteran closer Greg Holland on Opening Day. Bud Norris has assumed the role of closer for the moment, but the team lacks a true lock-down reliever. Their offense is relying heavily on power, ranking 2nd in power runs with 19, but without the longball, the Cardinals don’t score runs.

15. Los Angeles Dodgers (4-7, 4th in the NL West)

The Dodgers continue their early season free-fall, losing five of their last seven games and their best hitter might be Matt Kemp right now. This team is too talented not to pull things together, and outside of one poor outing by Alex Wood, the rotation has looked good too so far. Closer Kenley Jansen has not been sharp to start the season but has rebounded nicely since blowing a save against the Diamondbacks on April 2nd.

14. Toronto Blue Jays (8-5, 2nd in the AL East)

The Blue Jays have lost three of their five games by two runs or less and proven to be at the very least pesky to start 2018. The team is being carried by overperforming veterans like OF Curtis Granderson, INF Yangervis Solarte, and 1B Justin Smoak, who was a first-time All-Star last season. Josh Donaldson is tied for the team lead in home runs with three but hasn’t hit like the MVP-caliber hitter he is yet. Pitching has been good enough to win games, but Marcus Stroman has struggled in his two starts allowing nines in just nine innings.

13. Colorado Rockies (7-7, tied for 2nd in the NL West)

The Rockies have only won one series so far and have faced the Padres twice and Atlanta. Their offense is still crushing the long ball, tied for 2nd with 19 home runs, and Arenado has only hit one of those 19. Their starters haven’t been great but Wade Davis and the Rockies bullpen have been solid outside of Chris Rusin and Antonio Senzatela. They’re in the picture for the moment with the Dodgers and Giants early struggles, but don’t expect the Rockies to stick around much longer.

12. Minnesota Twins (7-4, 1st in the AL Central)

The Twins’ Jose Berrios looks like a potential ace right now, striking out more than 10 batters per nine innings in three starts this season. Veterans Joe Mauer and Brian Dozer have been great at the plate, but Bryon Buxton and Miguel Sano need to cut down on the strikeouts, both going down on strikes a combined 33 times this season.

11. Milwaukee Brewers (7-6, 2nd in the NL Central)

The Brewers pitching has been suspect thus far and the backend of their rotation has been a rotation door so far this season. The bullpen has had a few low points, but after moving Josh Hader from the closer spot for the moment has helped pull together a promising group of relievers. Offensively, the Brewers have been without Christian Yelich who is on the 10-day disabled listed oblique stiffness, but Eric Thames and his five home runs have helped soften the blow.

10. New York Yankees (6-7, 3rd in the AL East)

Outside of Luis Severino, the Yankee’s rotation has struggled mightily so far this season. Their bullpen, which many believe is the best in baseball, has allowed 27 runs in 54.1 innings, despite leading the league in strikeouts (among relief pitchers). Offensively, reigning AL Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge and SS Didi Gregorius had carried the team but Giancarlo Stanton has yet to start mashing in the Bronx. The Yankees need their pitching to improve as their offense is doing their part with 69 runs scored.

9. Chicago Cubs (6-6, 3rd in the NL Central)

Kris Bryant has been nothing short of fantastic in 2018, slashing .333/.467/.604 with two home runs, but the rest of the lineup has been disappointing so far. Catcher Willson Contreras has started to hit again but has only driven in one run on the season. Javier Baez leads the club with four home runs but has 10 strikeouts on the season. With Anthony Rizzo preparing to return after this weekend, the Cubs should be able to right the ship as their pitching has been solid so far, particularly their bullpen which boast a 2.19 ERA in 49.1 innings.

8. Cleveland Indians (8-5, 2nd in the AL Central)

The Indians have been able to put their season back on track despite batting below .200 as a team this season, all thanks to their strong pitching. Winners of five straight and six of their last seven, the Indians are finding ways to win without much run support. It’s safe to assume the Indians won’t continue batting .189 on the season, and once their lineup wakes up, Cleveland should continue to be one of the favorites to win it all this season.

7. Pittsburgh Pirates (9-3, 1st in the NL Central)

The Pirates lead the league in on-base percentage and are hitting .304 on balls in play to start the season, as the surprising Bucs do nothing but hit. Former top prospect Gregory Polanco is finally starting to look like the guy Pittsburgh thought they had a few seasons ago leading the team in with five home runs and 15 RBI, but the entire team is hitting right now. The pitching has been solid enough to win games, with Trevor Williams and Jameson Taillon both posting sub-1.50 ERAs. It remains to be seen whether the Pirates can continue to keep hitting like this, but they’ll need to to stay competitive in the NL Central.

6. Arizona Diamondbacks (9-3, 1st in the NL Central)

The Diamondbacks’ pitching plus a healthy .326 team on-base percentage has translated to sitting in1st place of the NL West. Staff ace Zack Greinke has been so-so to start the season, but the trio of Patrick Corbin, Zack Godley, and Taijan Walker have been excellent so far. Their bullpen has been strong to start the season, with Brad Boxberger and Archie Bradley both looking great in high-leverage situations. The offense doesn’t have a real standout, but Paul Goldschmidt and AJ Pollack are both getting on-base at a healthy clip.

5. Washington Nationals (6-7, 4th in the NL East)

The Nationals starting pitching trio of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Gio Gonzalez have been the elite arms we’ve come to expect them to be. But the rest of the rotation is a mess as AJ Cole has allowed 12 runs in two starts this season. Reliever Brandon Kintzler has struggled in five appearances this season, who also has an ERA around 12 on the season. But Bryce Harper is off to one of his best starts in years, leading the league in home runs with 5 and has an OPS of 1.181. The Nats are too good and are still head and shoulders better than anyone in the division, expect that to start reflecting in the standings soon.

4. Los Angeles Angels (11-3, 1st in the AL West)

Shohei Ohtani-fever is taking over the MLB, as each Angels game has quickly become must-watch TV. Ohtani leads the club in RBI with 11 and has the team’s best OBP at .414 in 29 plate appearances. He’s also the clubs best arm so far this season with a 2.08 ERA Ohtani is striking out 12.5 batters per nine innings, and showcasing some truly incredible stuff on the mound. And of course, Mike Trout is doing Mike Trout things, with five home runs and .388 OBP. The Angels are loving their new dynamic duo of Trout and Ohtani.

3. New York Mets (10-1, 1st in the NL East)

How about those Mets! Winners of eight straight games, the Mets’ rotation is finally healthy and they’re showing why many thought they could be a potential dynasty after their World Series appearance in 2015. The offense hasn’t been elite, but they’re getting solid contributions from Adrian Gonzalez and Asdrubal Cabrera that are unlikely to continue. Their bullpen has been great as well, with Jeurys Familia already closing six games, the Mets look to continue winning games – so long as their rotation remains in good health.

2. Boston Red Sox (10-2, 1st in the AL East)

The Red Sox look like the super team they are with a rotation and lineup that could be baseball’s best. Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez have been incredible at the plate so far, both hitting above .350, with new slugger JD Martinez driving in the runs – despite 17 strikeouts. David Price has never looked better in a Red Sox uniform, Chris Sale and Rick Porcello have been Cy-Young caliber pitchers, and Craig Kimbrel has four saves already. The Red Sox are as hot as anyone right now.

1. Houston Astros (9-4, 2nd in the AL West)

The Astros pitching has been as great so far, minus a few rough outings from Dallas Kuechel and Lance McCullers. But Houston’s depth makes their early struggles less significant, as they have two other starts ready to plug in and go. The offense hasn’t been the elite run-producers they were last season, but Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa have kept the wheels turning while George Springer has struggled at the plate. Even when not playing their best baseball, the Astros are still the class of the league.