Welcome in and I hope you’ll make my power rankings, which will be released around noon every Monday, a regular part of your baseball reading.
Normally, I would have done comments on all the teams by now, but I have decided that after a year away from seeing as much baseball as I would normally see, I wanted to get a better feel for the teams I am trying to cover from my perch in Baltimore. Below, you’ll see just 10 teams ranked.
Sadly, the Orioles seem to be quickly heading toward their rightful place in the cellar of the AL East. While the division may actually not have a powerhouse team, it sure looks like the Red Sox (3-3 against the O’s), Yankees, Rays and Blue Jays are all substantially better than this batch of Birds.
However, I have heard that tickets are going to be in high demand and that already it’s a tough ticket to get. It sure will be nice to see Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, Heston Kjerstad and Jordan Westburg start to play against real competition. It almost goes without saying that the same holds true for Michael Baumann, Zac Lowther, Alex Wells, Grayson Rodriguez and DL Hall so they can close the gap between where they are now and the mound at Camden Yards.
Without further adieu, here are my weekly MLB power rankings after two weeks of play:
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (8-2, No. 1 last week): Dave Roberts has the Porsche of MLB teams and he sure seems to have a knack for knowing how to drive it. Interesting that reliever Corey Knebel has two early saves.
2. San Diego Padres (7-3, No. 2): Given their championship aspirations, the Padres can’t be happy with the injury to shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. They do have the good fortune of having coincidentally signed the best free-agent infielder out of Japan, Kim Ha-Seong. I have not seen much of him yet, but he isn’t like Tatis.
3. St. Louis Cardinals (5-4, No. 8): I’m expecting the combination of Paul Goldschmidt at first and Nolan Arenado at third to pay huge dividends. Some health in their rotation would go a long way in making this lofty perch possible.
4. Minnesota Twins (5-4, No. 3): The Josh Donaldson injury is a bummer, but giving him four years after one healthy season in Atlanta doesn’t look like the soundest of moves in retrospect. Still, the ageless one Nelson Cruz just keeps on keeping on. The rotation of Kenta Maeda, Jose Berrios, Michael Pineda and J.A. Happ is very, very strong. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen a pitcher look brilliant in Florida or Arizona only to be buried and lose his groove. Right-hander Randy Dobnak is Exhibit A.
5. Chicago White Sox (4-5, No. 9): The loss of Eloy Jimenez with that torn pectoral muscle is a downright dirty shame. It’s going to be very interesting to watch Tony La Russa try to get back in the saddle. In an early-season snapshot irony, La Russa, one of the greatest handlers of a bullpen — and the guy who fundamentally and forever changed bullpen usage — has been all thumbs down so far.
6. Cleveland Indians (5-3, No. 15): So far, that awesome starting staff looks like it’ll single-handedly keep them relevant and dangerous all year. I am talking about Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac, Adam Civale, Logan Allen and Triston McKenzie. They are all capable of great things. Skipper Terry Francona is still at the top of his game.
7. Houston Astros (6-3, No. 11): While they aren’t nearly as good as they were when they were banging trash cans, the suspicions and downright hatred for them has given them a “chip on their shoulder” and they’ll probably use that to their advantage. Designated hitter Yordan Álvarez is the closest thing I have seen to David Ortiz since he walked out of Boston.
8. New York Yankees (4-5, No. 4): Gerrit Cole is playing his part, and Jordan Montgomery looks like he is in the process of arriving as a dependable starter. After that, Domingo German has been sent to the alternate site with a 9.00-plus ERA, and Corey Kluber’s got a long way to go to be a meaningful arm again. Kluber has a 5.68 ERA in 6.1 innings (two starts). A comeback by Luis Severino is really needed, and one or both of Deivi Garcia and Luis Gil may need to grow up in a hurry. Top pitching prospect Clarke Schmidt hasn’t been heard from due to a “right common extensor tendon strain,” which was supposed to keep him down for 3-4 weeks. It’s now been close to two months and he is going to seek a second opinion.
9. Tampa Bay Rays (4-5, No. 7): This team has turned into a developmental machine. They did play in the World Series last year, so they do reap a lot of positives from how they operate. But sometimes it seems like it’s the Kevin Cash Show and his showing off how brilliant he is takes up a lot of energy. Two key bullpen arms in Nick Anderson and Peter Fairbanks are down for a good while.
10. Toronto Blue Jays (4-5, No. 5): I still can’t get over how they are playing regular-season games at their spring home in Dunedin, Fla., but they’ve assembled a very interesting squad with a lot of youth and energy. But while Hyun-jin Ryu and Steven Matz have been very good, Ross Stripling and Tanner Roark have been awful. They do get Robbie Ray back this week, and that’ll help. George Springer is still a ways away from playing due to a nagging quad injury.