You can start with how first-place votes were split between the Dodgers (two), Brewers (two) and Mets (one), but don't sleep on the Phillies -- they might not have gotten a first-place vote, but they advanced eight slots to reach the No. 2 perch. The single largest leap between our initial preseason Power Rankings and this one was achieved by the Mariners, who jumped 11 spots to crack the top 10. Meanwhile, the Mets' 10-rung move brought them into the top five. The Padres also advanced 10 spots, suggesting that their rebuild might be ahead of schedule.
Equally dramatic, the slow starts of the reigning World Series champion Red Sox and the Cubs sent both clubs spiraling out of the top 10, as Boston fell 10 spots from No. 1 to 11th overall, and the Cubs tumbled 13 spots to No. 19. Will these early-season corrections for high expectations get turned around quickly, or will both of these expected playoff contenders dig even bigger holes in the week to come?
This week, in running through all 30 teams, we asked Bradford Doolittle to give us a snapshot of which players have greeted the new season by making great first impressions so far this season and which are already having Aprils they might rather erase from fans' memories. Joining Doolittle in voting for this week's rankings were ESPN's Christina Kahrl, Eric Karabell, Tim Kurkjian and David Schoenfield.
Cody Bellinger has been playing bam-bam baseball in the early going, propelling himself into way-too-early MVP chatter. He's slugging better than .600 against fastballs, off-speed pitches and breaking balls. In other words: He's mashing everything thrown his way. The only fly in the Dodgers' ointment to date has been the unsightly performance of new setup reliever Joe Kelly, whose early ERA sits at 14.40, allowing two home runs and 11 baserunners in just five innings.
Has Bryce Harper made a good first impression with the volatile fans in Philadelphia? Three majestic home runs and a .556 on-base percentage say yes. That doesn't mean those passionate fans don't have someone to boo. David Robertson was tasked with sealing the back of the Philadelphia bullpen. Instead, he has a 9.82 ERA, with 12 baserunners allowed against 11 total outs.
We already knew about Josh Hader, but the Brewers' beat-up bullpen would be suffering if not for the continued dominance of one of the game's toughest lefties. Hader allowed just one hit and one walk in his first five outings, striking out 13 and picking up five saves while throwing virtually nothing but high fastballs. That kind of focused approach has extended to a Milwaukee offense that has been long-ball-heavy so far, but that trend has not included hulking first baseman Jesus Aguilar, who managed just four singles in his first eight games.
You can't be better than Jacob deGrom was last season -- unless you happen to be Jacob deGrom. The big righty has continued his 2018 roll with 13 shutout innings and 24 strikeouts to begin the season. That's 16.6 K/9, if you're keeping track at home. Teammate Brandon Nimmo hasn't been able to keep his own 2018 magic alive so far. Nimmo has started his campaign 3-for-29 with 17 strikeouts.
The Rays stayed away from established sluggers over the winter, in part hoping the void could be filled by unlocking the power potential of former Indian Yandy Diaz. Diaz is slugging .667 with three home runs. That has helped prop up a lineup that has been dragged down by some slow starts. Particularly distressing has been the showing of young shortstop Willy Adames. Instead of taking a second-year leap, Adames is 4-for-34 with 15 strikeouts and zero extra-base hits or walks to start the campaign.
Preseason ranking: 3
Imagine where the injury-riddled Yanks would be without offseason pickup DJ LeMahieu, who has gone 12-for-28 to start his New York career, mostly while filling in for Miguel Andujar at third base. Meanwhile, the first 12 times that Aaron Judge put the ball in play, the ball failed to leave the yard. For Judge, that qualifies as a slump. Of course, then he went deep on his next two plate appearances.
After his back problems last season and a neck injury late in spring training, Carlos Correa has looked spry in the early going for the Astros, going 6-for-22 with four extra-base hits in his first six outings. Less encouraging has been the start for utility player Aledmys Diaz, acquired as the replacement for super-rover Marwin Gonzalez. Diaz is 2-for-13 to begin the season and has already committed a pair of errors.
Lefty Max Fried has dazzled as both a reliever and a starter in the early going. He has allowed just one hit among the 26 batters he has faced and looks as if he's going to fill Atlanta's need for a No. 5 starter for now. The news isn't as cheery for free-agent acquisition Josh Donaldson, who is 5-for-30 with a lone extra-base hit to begin the campaign.
2019 record: 6-3
Trevor Bauer, baseball's ultimate tinkerer, has emerged from his winter lab with a newfound appreciation for his changeup, which he has thrown about 10 percent more often than he did last season. You want results? Opposing hitters are 0-for-11 against Bauer's change so far, even though he doesn't have the luxury of facing that Cleveland outfield everyone was so worried about entering the season. The consternation seems well-founded for a group that combined to hit .179 with no homers and six RBIs in the Indians' first nine games.
10. Seattle Mariners
Seattle has four regulars acquired over the winter who found themselves in the midst of the Mariners' soft rebuild. Two of them -- Tim Beckham and Domingo Santana -- rank among the league leaders in runs created. Beckham has a 1.314 OPS for what has been the game's best offense so far. If only the thin bullpen could meet that standard. Offseason signee Cory Gearrin has a 10.80 ERA and began a high-leverage outing in Chicago by throwing 10 straight balls.
11. Boston Red Sox
On a team that has made a roster-wide poor first impression, the defending champs still have J.D. Martinez doing what he has done since his mid-career metamorphosis. Martinez is hitting .333/.404/.548, and if those were to be his season-end slash stats, would you really be surprised? The other side of this coin is most starkly exemplified by Chris Sale, who has allowed a .885 wOBA with his four-seamer thus far, a pitch averaging just 90.7 mph.
Thus far, free-agent-to-be Anthony Rendon has been left out of the onslaught of high-dollar contract extensions. As if the Nationals needed reminding, Rendon has gone out and hit .433/.528/.967 to start the season. The Nats' infield needs that kind of production from Rendon, especially now that shortstop Trea Turner has hit the injured list. New second baseman Brian Dozier began the campaign in a swoon, going just 2-for-25 with no extra-base hits to start his Nationals career.
13. San Diego Padres
2019 record: 6-4
Fernando Tatis Jr. has mostly dazzled as baseball's youngest regular thus far, putting up an .833 OPS in the Padres' first nine games. Just as important: Tatis has played nine straight errorless games in the field while providing plenty of fodder for highlight-reel editors. It has been almost entirely good news for San Diego so far. One sore spot has been setup relief, as the bullpen has allowed seven of nine inherited runners to score. Robert Stock leads the club with three high-leverage appearances but allowed five runs of his own, plus another three of four inherited runners scored.
Kolten Wong should have won a Gold Glove last season, and perhaps because he did not, he's taking out his revenge on opposing pitchers. The Cardinals' second baseman has six extra-base hits, including three homers. Wong and newcomer Paul Goldschmidt have been bright spots for the so far disappointing Redbirds. What appeared to be a potentially dynamic, high-leverage relief crew has struggled, with Jordan Hicks, Andrew Miller and Alex Reyes combining for 13 runs allowed in their first 11 IP.
15. Minnesota Twins
On a national scale, Jorge Polanco might not have been the sexiest name on baseball's lengthy list of spring contract extensions, but he began the season as if he's intent on earning all of those future riches, slugging .688. On Friday, he hit for the cycle while banging out five hits. No one in Twins/Senators history had done that since Joe Cronin in 1929. To his right in the infield, Marwin Gonzalez is off to a slow start as a Twin, going just 4-for-22.
How do the A's do it? With an offseason rotation depth chart populated by a string of questions, Oakland's fivesome of Marco Estrada, Mike Fiers, Brett Anderson, Frankie Montas and Aaron Brooks posted a collective 2.91 ERA in their first 12 starts. Behind them, the A's turned to former top Rangers prospect Jurickson Profar to replace Jed Lowrie at second base. So far, no good: Profar began the season 5-for-47.
17. Colorado Rockies
German Marquez has a contract extension and reinforced status as the Rockies' ace starter, with just one run allowed in his first two starts. The Rockies' rotation has been settled since last season, but Colorado had two lineup holes open over the winter with the departures of DJ LeMahieu and Carlos Gonzalez. The Rox filled both slots with internal options:Garrett Hampson and Ian Desmond. They have combined to go 5-for-59 in the early going.
Any run into contention by the Pirates figured to be powered by pitching, and that's exactly what happened in Pittsburgh's first seven games. The Bucs used 13 pitchers in those contests, seven of whom did not allow a run in any outing. That's a lot of 0.00 ERAs, even for this early in the season. Pittsburgh has needed to be stingy with runs, given a slow start on offense, exemplified by new shortstop Erik Gonzalez, who started the season 4-for-24.
19. Chicago Cubs
We recently found out that Joe Maddon's forthcoming restaurant near Wrigley Field will feature renowned Chicago chef Tony Mantuano. That's about the best development of the Cubs' spring. The worst? The team that bad-mouthed PECOTA has since gone about proving it to be the most clairvoyant prognosticator since Edgar Cayce.
Christian Walker has done a pretty good Paul Goldschmidt impression early in the season, clubbing three homers already, all against righties. With Jake Lamb hitting the injured list, Walker has an excellent opportunity to build on that hot start. On the other hand, 3B Eduardo Escobar has started the season 7-for-40.
Will Mike Trouthave a string of career seasons, or will he actually have one campaign that stands out in his flawless performance record? Perhaps this is the one: Trout started the season with a 1.581 OPS, striking out just three times in 10 games. The Danny DeVito to Trout's Arnold Schwarzenegger has been Zack Cozart, who started the season 1-for-26 in his bid to bounce back from last season's injury-plagued campaign.
22. Texas Rangers
The Rangers' offense has propelled a solid start, led by resurgent veteran Elvis Andrus. Andrus has 15 hits in 10 games to start the season. Sadly, Texas' run prevention is shaping up to be as leaky as feared. The Rangers' average game score from their starters is just 43, the third worst in baseball. Texas just lost veteran Edinson Volquez to an elbow injury, which, if it turns out to be another UCL tear, has him talking retirement.
23. Detroit Tigers
Jordan Zimmermann has mostly struggled since he joined the Tigers, but in his first two starts, he reminded everyone why he was a two-time All-Star during his days in Washington. Zimmermann has allowed just one run in 13 innings to begin the year. The fountain-of-youth scenario isn't playing out that way for Miguel Cabrera; Miggy did not have an extra-base hit in Detroit's first 10 games.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. started 2-for-8 with a double for high-A Dunedin upon his return from a spring oblique strain. From there, it's on to Buffalo, then tick, tick, tick .... Toronto's placeholder at third base is Brandon Drury, who has started 7-for-39 with no homers or RBIs while striking out an AL-high 17 times. In other words, he has done little to quell the cries for the arrival of Vladi Jr.
Early as it is, Yoan Moncada looks like a player who has taken a leap this season -- not just because he's averaging an absurd 96 mph in exit velocity but also because so far he has sliced his strikeout rate in half. On the flipside, phenom Eloy Jimenez has looked a bit unbalanced at the dish thus far as he adjusts to pitchers throwing him sliders more frequently than any other player in the majors except Minnesota's Jonathan Schoop.
Has MadBum returned to the elite? Madison Bumgarner has looked like his old self early on, allowing just two runs while striking out 13 in his first two outings. Oh, he also homered and leads the Giants in OPS. Other big-name players looking to recover a little lost glory are still searching: Buster Posey and Evan Longoria are both trying to climb above the Mendoza line.
27. Cincinnati Reds
Armed with one of the game's best changeups, Luis Castillo is emerging as the No. 1 starter the Reds have been aching for since Johnny Cueto was traded. Castillo has allowed just three hits while striking out 17 in his first two starts. Meanwhile, Reds fans waiting on Joey Votto to recover his power stroke are still waiting. Votto was hunting for his first homer of the season until Saturday, when he went deep in Pittsburgh.
As good as Adalberto Mondesi has been so far, he isn't leading the Royals in OPS. That would be Royal emeritus Alex Gordon, who is off to a .929 start with eight RBIs. Sadly, a bad impression has been made by anybody who has passed through the Royals' bullpen gate this season, a problem that has kneecapped what otherwise would be a fun start for rebuilding Kansas City.
29. Miami Marlins
Young righty Sandy Alcantara threw eight shutout innings in his season debut, and that's pretty much the sum total of the good news in Miami. Even that news is tempered by Alcantara's second outing: a zero-strikeout, five-walk effort on Saturday. A bad impression? The Marlins are averaging fewer than 10,000 fans at home so far.
The early days of a rebuild often mean the reemergence of forgotten names, such as minor league journeyman Hanser Alberto. Used in a bit role thus far, Alberto has seven hits in his first 14 Orioles at-bats. Unfortunately, another winter's contemplation has done nothing to coax the reemergence of once-feared slugger Chris Davis, who began the season 0-for-23 with 13 strikeouts. Davis is now hitless in his past 44 at-bats dating to last season, two shy of a big league record no one wants.
Rays rise into top 5 of MLB Power Rankings after Week 1
Tim Kurkjian and Jeff Passan give their MLB Power Rankings heading into Week 2 of the season.