Saturday, May 21, 2022

MLB Power Rankings: Unbeaten Rays at No. 1 following first weekend of 2022

MLB Power Rankings: Unbeaten Rays at No. 1 following first weekend of 2022

The 3-0 Rays sit at the top, with the 0-3 Orioles in the No. 30 spot — what about in between?

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During the month of April, on an annual basis, we’re tasked with a difficult balancing act here in The Official Power Rankings. 

You see, before the season starts, all we can rank on what we think we know. We can look up and down each roster and project. We can do this based upon past performance, age of the roster, injuries, expectations for the personnel on the roster and all that good stuff. 

Once we get into May, I’m good to start judging what we’ve seen to that point in the season and just react accordingly with each new version of The Official Power Rankings. 

In between, we’re doing the aforementioned balancing act. We have to attempt to square up what we’ve actually seen on the field with the personnel on each roster while sorting out what could possibly be real and what is most certainly not. 

Remember, the Orioles swept the Red Sox last season in Fenway Park in three games. The Red Sox would go on to win 92 while the Orioles lost 110. That is obviously the most extreme example, but it’s an apt one because we’ve only seen every team play either three or four games so far this season. 

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Am I really going to totally unravel all my preseason thoughts based on such a minuscule sample of baseball? We sure as hell wouldn’t be doing anything like this in the middle of June and these games count just the same. 

Of course, it’s human nature to react to what we’ve seen. Some things really could be real, you know? Plus, what fun would it be to just totally ignore everything we’ve seen to this point and just leave the rankings as they were? 

As such, we’re looking to react without overreacting. 

  • Should we really drop the Dodgers a bunch after just three games? That’s less than two percent of the season.
  • We can’t go crazy with run differential. Look at the Guardians. They lost two close games and then won 17-3, so they have a plus-11 with a 1-2 record. That doesn’t mean they are a great team that just had bad “luck” or sequencing. It’s a coincidence because it’s only been three games. 
  • There has to be something said for the level of competition, right? The Phillies just beat up on what looks like a bad A’s team and only took two of three instead of sweeping. Likewise with the Mets beating up on the hapless Nationals for three of four. Then again, are the Reds really that much better than the A’s and/or Nats? They split four games against the Braves

See? It can be tough to try and earnestly sort everything out right now. 

The Rays went undefeated in convincing fashion (and are the only unbeaten team left in MLB). They scored 15 runs and only allowed four in three games. They won 96 games in 2019, went 40-20 and won the AL in 2020 and won 100 games last season. The savvy front office keeps putting winning combinations on the field. 

Simply, that’s as good as any combination right now in balancing what we’ve seen with what we might continue to see. It’s a reaction without overreacting. In light of that, they’ll take the top spot this week. The only other thing I’d say before next week is to expect a ton of shuffling. We won’t be settled here for a while and that’s part of what makes it so fun. 

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1

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Rays

There’s something to be said for taking care of business against the dregs. The Rays have won 15 games in a row over the Orioles, going back, obviously, to last season. 4 3-0
2

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Blue Jays

There’s no reason to worry about a bad outing from Jose Berríos. Hyun-Jin Ryu, though, is 35 years old and showed signs of a decline last season. Uh oh? 2-1
3

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Astros

How’s this for ownership? The Astros are 22-3-3 in their last 28 series against the Angels. 4 3-1
4

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White Sox

They’re awfully close to being 3-0, but is Lucas Giolito going to join Lance Lynn on the injured list? Surely they won’t have the same awful injury luck this year to their rotation they had last year with the offense, right? 2-1
5

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Dodgers

I wouldn’t be too worried about it. The Rockies were 48-33 in Coors Field last year. They win games there. It happens. The good news for Dodgers fans? This Dodgers team is pretty well versed in how little three regular-season games mean. They’ll be calm, so you should follow their lead. 4 1-2
6

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Braves

The spotlight opener, the ring ceremony, no Ronald Acuña Jr. Adjusting to life without Freddie Freeman. Hey, it’s been a hectic first four games. Hangovers are normal. They’ll be fine. 3 2-2
7

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Yankees

It might not have been pretty the whole time, but taking two of three from the Red Sox to start the season is a win. 1 2-1
8

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Mets

So incredibly close to the 4-0 start. Just two innings away! 1 3-1
9

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Giants

Just in case you wondered if any magic was going to carry over: The game-tying home run in the ninth on Opening Day came from Thairo Estrada. 1 2-1
10

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Phillies

There will be some boom-or-bust in the offense, the defense will be suspect and the bullpen will surely be inconsistent. They’ll also be damn fun to watch and win their share of games. So, basically, what we already saw. 2 2-1
11

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Padres

Give them lots of credit for taking three straight after that utter gut-punch Opening Day loss. 3 3-1
12

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Brewers

Just a few innings from a disastrous three-game sweep at the hands of the Cubs, but they came back late and now get to the play the Orioles for three games before their home opener. My guess is by this time next week they’ll be more than OK. 4 1-2
13

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Cardinals

Steven Matz’s awful outing against the awful Pirates won’t do much to alleviate fears about the rotation, but at least Adam Wainwright looked great. 2 2-1
14

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Mariners

It’s only a few games, but given the decline we’ve seen the last few years, it’s probably reasonable to point out how lost Eugenio Suárez looks. 3 2-1
15

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Red Sox

What a huge ninth for Jake Diekman, striking out Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Joey Gallo to preserve a one-run lead. The Red Sox escape from the Bronx with a win, so it wasn’t a total disaster to start the season. 4 1-2
16

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Cubs

They couldn’t have asked for a much better opening weekend, given that they were the third team in MLB history to open against three consecutive All-Star starting pitchers. Seiya Suzuki appears to be a difference-maker. 6 2-1
17

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Rockies

Off to a great start. They’ll be fun at times and will give opposing contenders fits in Coors. Again. 10 2-1
18

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Twins

OK, this is it. It’s finally Byron Buxton’s year to stay healthy and win MVP, right? 2 1-2
19

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Rangers

I do not think they are a contender just yet, but they have enough thump in their offense to put a scare into contenders. They just did so to the Blue Jays. 1-2
20

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Marlins

The Jazz Chisholm ninth-inning homer to give the Marlins the lead on Opening Day was a thing of beauty. Clutch. Opposite field. Looks like he shouldn’t be able to hit it that far. Just beautiful. He’s a pleasure to watch. 1 1-2
21

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Royals

They are 2-1 despite Sal Perez and Whit Merrifield being a combined 1 for 24 at the plate. 2 2-1
22

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Reds

Hunter Greene picked up the win over the defending champs in his MLB debut on Sunday. His fastball *averaged* triple digits. That’s all kinds of fun. 2 2-2
23

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Angels

They were playing a very good team and were not far off from at least a split, so we’ll settle down for now. It’s just that with the Angels at this point, it’s pretty easy to just look at them and say, “again? Yeah, same old Angels.” 10 1-3
24

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Tigers

That Opening Day “Wall Off” was one of the most bizarre plays we’ve seen. What a fun ending to a great game. As for the rest of the weekend? Eh. Getting only one of three from a great White Sox team isn’t the end of the world. 4 1-2
25

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Guardians

Rookie sensation Steven Kwan became the fifth player since World War II to collect five hits in a game within his first five MLB games. 7 1-2
26

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Athletics

We know Cristian Pache is going to play excellent defense in center field. The question is whether or not he’ll hit. He’s hitting .300 so far, so there’s that. 1 1-2
27

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Nationals

I wonder how close any team has ever come to being the worst offensive team but having the best offensive player? Just curious. No specific reason. 1 1-3
28

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Pirates

Good for Ke’Bryan Hayes to get that extension and some nice financial security for likely the rest of his life. I’m not giving the Pirates any credit and I’m actually embarrassed they’ve never done more than this for any player. 2 1-2
29

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Diamondbacks

The biggest success of their first four games was a dude named Beer hitting a walk-off homer. And hey, that’s not too bad at all! 1-3
30

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Orioles

It’s going to be another really long season, but I suppose the bar is pretty low. The Orioles haven’t won more than 54 games in a season since 2017. Yes, they could go 55-107 and it would be their highest win total since the Cubs were the defending champions. 2 0-3

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