2023 MLB Power Rankings Week 5: Rays, Pirates soar; Yankees drop; White Sox hit rock bottom
After one month of action, it's time for the first edition of my MLB power rankings for the 2023 season.
My power rankings are a snapshot of where teams stand at a current point in time. I expect teams to move up and move down in my rankings over the course of the season. I factor a full body of work paired with recent performance into my rankings. It's a combination of who is playing the best right now, and who has been the best so far this season. So without much further ado, here we go:
1) Tampa Bay Rays (23-6) — The Rays continue to roll. They have the best run-differential in baseball, by a wide margin, at +103.
2) Pittsburgh Pirates (20-9) — Pittsburgh became the first National League team to 20 wins, has the best run-differential in the NL (+48), is 6-3 against teams above .500 and has won 11 of its last 13. With the Braves slowed down by two rainout games over the weekend, we'll give the Pirates the top spot in the NL this week. There isn't an NL team that's played better than Pittsburgh has over the last two weeks.
3) Atlanta Braves (18-9) — Seeing the Braves and Pirates atop of the National League is making me reminiscent of the early 1990s, when the two clubs met in the NLCS in 1991 and 1992. I wasn't alive — but hey, can't I still be nostalgic? The Braves took both series in '91 and '92. The two clubs won't play each other until August, and a lot may change in the three months between then and now.
4) Baltimore Orioles (19-9) — Slightly overshadowed by the Rays' success, Baltimore is quietly ten games above .500 with an even slimmer payroll than Tampa Bay's. With a roster full of promising young players such as Gunnar Henderson and Adley Rutschman, the O's are a fun watch.
5) Toronto Blue Jays (18-10) — The American League East is loaded. Three of our top five teams come from the division.
6) Milwaukee Brewers (18-10) — Who would have predicted one month ago, that two of the top three records in the National League would come from teams in the NL Central, and neither team would be the St. Louis Cardinals? Certainly not I. Milwaukee may have been overvalued coming into 2022, but in 2023, the club was undervalued. Some thought the Brewers could be sellers at the trade deadline. That seems rather unlikely at this time.
7) Texas Rangers (17-11) — Texas' start may be even more surprising to me than Pittsburgh's. The Rangers finished 68-94 in 2022 and continued to build through free agency over the winter, a formula that typically doesn't work. I may have overlooked the leadership three-time World Series champion Bruce Bochy would bring to the team. Even with the club's best pitcher (Jacob deGrom) and position player (Corey Seager) missing time, the Rangers haven't missed a beat and lead what appears to be a hypercompetitive AL West.
8) Minnesota Twins (17-12) — Last week, the Twins won their first series over the New York Yankees since 2001. With that monkey off their backs, will the Twins snap another losing streak this fall? The club hasn't won a playoff game since 2004, and hasn't won a postseason series since 2002. For now, the series win and a 3.5-game lead in the American League Central is cause for celebration in the Twin Cities.
9) Arizona Diamondbacks (16-13) — The Diamondbacks have been a bit up and down thus far, but one month through the regular season, the club leads the National League West. Diamondbacks ace Zac Gallen is throwing the ball better than anybody right now, and is making a strong case that he's the best pitcher in the National League.
10) New York Mets (15-12) — Rough week for the Mets, but I'm not overly concerned about them. They'll be fine.
11) Los Angeles Dodgers (16-13) — It's been a slow start for the Dodgers, compared to what we're used to seeing from them. The club swept the St. Louis Cardinals and got a handful of players back from the paternity list. It's only a matter of time until Mookie, Freddie and Muncy heat up.
12) Philadelphia Phillies (15-14) — I predicted Philly to have a World Series hangover in 2023, and the season's first two weeks reaffirmed my view. Since, the Phillies begun to heat up, with 2021 NL MVP Bryce Harper nearing a return. The Phillies just went into Houston and took two of three from the defending champs. Philly has won seven of its last nine. Harper could be back in the lineup Tuesday.
13) Houston Astros (15-13) — It's still very early, but it appears Houston won't be running away with the AL West the way it did a season ago. The Astros remain the favorites to win the division, but the race looks like it will be much closer than it was last year, when the Astros won 106 games and finished 15 games better than the Seattle Mariners for the division crown.
14) Boston Red Sox (15-14) — There isn't a team in the AL East with a losing record, once again speaking to the strength of the best division in baseball. Collectively picked to finish last, Boston is hanging in there.
15) New York Yankees (15-14) — Concerns are starting to set in for the Yankees. If Aaron Judge misses an extended period of time, the reigning division champs could be in serious trouble.
16) Miami Marlins (16-13) — There are currently 19 teams that are .500 or better. There isn't much separation from teams near the bottom of my top-10 and teams 11-20. If this trend continues there will be a handful of mid-level teams all season long. After sweeping the Chicago Cubs, we'll put Miami above Chicago, San Diego and the Angels.
17) Los Angeles Angels (15-14) — Through the first month of the season, the two teams that have looked the most average to me are the Angels and Cubs.
18) Chicago Cubs (14-13) — Going off no. 17, the Cubs were seeing a number of key position players and starting pitchers outperforming their projected totals coming into the season. Even with the team exceeding expectations, the club is just slightly above .500. The Pirates on the other hand, are exceeding expectations and have the best record in the NL. The Cubs feel like they're due for regression, and even if they aren't, their ceiling doesn't appear to be very high. A sweep from the Marlins may be the start of the Cubs' record catching up with them.
19) San Diego Padres (15-14) — The next three teams in these ranking are teams that I expect to climb this list as the season progresses. The Padres just got Fernando Tatis Jr. back, but Juan Soto still isn't hitting. The pitching rotation has serious question marks for me. Even so, I expect this team to move up.
20) Cleveland Guardians (13-15) — My pick to win the American League has been hampered by injuries to their pitching staff and has had difficulty hitting. Perhaps I jumped the gun a bit with my outlook for this young team, but I still expect the Guardians to win the AL Central. The bats will get going as the weather starts to warm up in the Midwest.
21) Seattle Mariners (12-16) — I can't really wrap my head around the struggles of Seattle, but like I said as it relates to Cleveland, I think this team will get going as the seasons change. Seattle got off to a slow start last season, but ended up winning its first postseason series in 21 years.
22) Cincinnati Reds (12-16) — Cincinnati showed a flash of what it is capable of when it swept the Texas Rangers at the Great American Ballpark last week. Graham Ashcraft has been sensational.
23) San Francisco Giants (11-16) — While some expected San Francisco to be in the hunt for a Wild Card this season, I'm not seeing it. A team with Joc Pederson, Mitch Haniger and Michael Conforto in the heart of its order can only go so far. All three are nice complimentary pieces, but I don't see a true big bat in this lineup.
24) Washington Nationals (10-17) — Washington enters the first season of its full-scale rebuild without Juan Soto. While it might not show up in the standings, the club will be an interesting watch all season long. Their lineup is full of young players, many of whom have the potential to be stars.
25) Detroit Tigers (10-17) — Detroit was looking like it would be terrible once again, but has picked it up slightly over the past couple weeks. This team isn't good right now, but at least they aren't the worst in the AL Central?
26) St. Louis Cardinals (10-19) — After downplaying their struggles for much of the first month, I'm becoming seriously concerned about the Cardinals. Divisions can't be won in April, but they certainly can be lost in the season's first month. At 10-19, St. Louis is 10 games back of the division lead. The pressure is beginning to mount. The Cardinals need to get it going, quickly.
27) Colorado Rockies (9-20) — Colorado was my pick to finish at the bottom of the National League, and through the first month, I've seen nothing that has convinced me otherwise.
28) Chicago White Sox (8-21) — I'm writing the White Sox off now. They aren't recovering from this poor start, and they won't make the playoffs this season. The only question is, will the White Sox pick things up and be a slightly below average team in 2023, or will they actually be one of the worst three teams in baseball all season? Only time will tell.
29) Kansas City Royals (7-22) — Had the White Sox not come back to beat Tampa Bay Sunday, the Royals would have been one spot higher in these rankings. That's all I have to say about Kansas City at this particular time. At least their barbecue's great and the NFL Draft was a huge success.
30) Oakland Athletics (6-23) — The A's are on pace to finish as one of Major League Baseball's all-time terrible teams. Can they keep it up?
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