MLB Power Rankings: Are remaining undefeated teams contenders or pretenders?

Discussing whether remaining undefeated teams are contenders or pretenders.

Detroit Tigers v New York Mets
Detroit Tigers v New York Mets / Dustin Satloff/GettyImages

We're not even a full week into the season and we've already seen a pair of benches-clearing brawls, a no-hitter, and one of the biggest gambling stories in sports history centered around the face of the sport.

We've seen some teams most expected to play well get off to poor starts while others who might not have had lofty expectations get off to good starts. As fun as it is to see baseball back, the first week of the season is often when we see overreactions, especially from fans of teams who are undefeated.

There are four undefeated teams left. A pair of them can be considered postseason contenders while the other two should not be.

Are undefeated teams contenders or pretenders?

  1. New York Yankees
  2. Pittsburgh Pirates
  3. Detroit Tigers
  4. Milwaukee Brewers
Luis Gil
New York Yankees v Arizona Diamondbacks / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

New York Yankees

The New York Yankees made the biggest trade of the offseason, acquiring Juan Soto from the Padres and the deal is already paying dividends. The Bronx Bombers are 5-0 to begin their season, pulling off an impressive sweep in Houston and taking the opener of the three-game series against the defending NL Champion Arizona Diamondbacks.

Soto has played a huge role in their hot start, producing at a superstar level offensively and even defensively. New York has gotten solid starting pitching even without Gerrit Cole, and their bullpen has allowed a total of one earned run in 19.2 innings of work even with Tommy Kahnle on the sidelines.

The Yankees have hit and pitched in the clutch, and Aaron Judge hasn't even done much of anything yet. At full strength, this Yankees team can be lethal, and we've seen that even when they're not close to full strength they can compete with some of the league's best teams.

The AL East is still probably Baltimore's division to win with how loaded they are and how banged up the Yankees are, but New York is certainly one of the favorites to win the American League if they can stay healthy.

Oneil Cruz, Rowdy Tellez
Pittsburgh Pirates v Washington Nationals / Jess Rapfogel/GettyImages

Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pittsburgh Pirates are the other 5-0 team in the league, which is exciting because they haven't put together a winning season since 2018. They haven't made the postseason since 2015, nearly a decade ago.

As exciting as their hot start has been, let's not discount the competition they've played against. The Marlins made the postseason last season but are without 80% of last year's starting rotation. Their bullpen is a mess, and their offense has always been subpar. The Nationals have some fun young players, but they're a ways away from competing as well. The Pirates have done what good teams do, take advantage of the lackluster ones, but it's too soon to call them true contenders.

The Pirates, as fun as they are, still have a subpar offense and starting rotation. Getting O'Neill Cruz back and promoting Jared Jones should help immensely, but outside of Bryan Reynolds and Mitch Keller they lack the high-end talent necessary to keep them in contention all season.

Just look at last season. The Pirates were 20-9 at the end of April and the surprise of the league. They then slowed down a ton as the season progressed and finished 76-86. They might finish closer to or even above .500 this time around, but it's just too soon to say that they've ascended to true contention.

Carson Kelly
Detroit Tigers v New York Mets / Dustin Satloff/GettyImages

Detroit Tigers

I said what I said. This Detroit Tigers team can seriously compete for the AL Central division title. Now, I'm not going to come out here and say that they're World Series contenders or anything, but this team can absolutely fight for a postseason spot. It's undoubtedly the best team that they've had since the 2016 campaign - their last winning season.

If Kenta Maeda hadn't struggled in his outing, the Tigers would have easily the best pitching in baseball. The trio of Tarik Skubal, Jack Flaherty, and Reese Olson combined to allow a total of one run in 17.2 innings pitched with 16 strikeouts. Their bullpen has allowed a total of one run in 17 innings of work with 19 strikeouts. This team can flat-out pitch.

Yes, the offense remains an issue, but this team is 4-0 with its two best hitters, Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson, combining for four hits in 32 at-bats (.125 BA). Once they get going, with this pitching staff, the Tigers can be really tough to beat.

Yes, it'd be nice to see them play teams that are not the White Sox and Mets, but there's every reason to believe that the pitching talent they have can compete against anybody. I mean, the Mets aren't hitting right now but that's not a lineup full of scrubs that Detroit shut out for ten innings on Monday.

That kind of pitching can keep Detroit in any game. The offense will hold them back, but the pitching is good enough to, at the very least, keep them in contention in the AL Central.

Rhys Hoskins, Willy Adames
Milwaukee Brewers v New York Mets / Christopher Pasatieri/GettyImages

Milwaukee Brewers

Is there a team that has been more fun to watch so far than the Milwaukee Brewers? I mean, what they just did to the Mets in New York to begin their season was unbelievable. They dominated them in every facet of the game.

There are some nice players on this Brewers team, but their starting rotation, outside of Freddy Peralta, is a mess. Their bullpen can lock down leads as we saw in that Mets series even without Devin Williams, but how many good starts can we realistically expect out of guys like DL Hall, Colin Rea, Jakob Junis, and Joe Ross? Getting Wade Miley back will help, but it's only Wade Miley.

The Brewers will have a really hard time pitching consistently well against strong offenses. The Mets are not that, especially without J.D. Martinez.

Milwaukee's offense can be pretty good with the addition of Rhys Hoskins and the debut of Jackson Chourio, but is it going to be better than teams like Chicago and Cincinnati in their own division? is it going to be good enough to make up for their rotation deficiencies? I'm not so sure. Love the bullpen, like the lineup, but the rotation is just such a buzzkill.