Five Teams We Were Way Too Low on in Our First Power Rankings

Now that we are three weeks removed from Opening Day, a lot has changed around MLB. Here are some teams who have impressed early on in 2024.

Juan Soto #22 of the New York Yankees celebrates with Aaron Judge #99 on a solo home run in the eighth inning of their MLB game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
TORONTO, CANADA - APRIL 17: Juan Soto #22 of the New York Yankees celebrates with Aaron Judge #99 on a solo home run in the eighth inning of their MLB game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on April 17, 2024 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)

Making Power Rankings for Major League Baseball is always a bit of fool’s errand, but that has never more true than in preseason Power Rankings.

No matter how good, or how bad a team looks on paper, it is nearly impossible to gauge what they will be before they get on the diamond and start showing what they have. All we can go on is what we saw last year, and try to factor in the offseason additions. But once games are played a lot of that goes out the window and everything starts anew.

Now we are three weeks into the season, and things have changed drastically across the league. Looking back at our Opening Day Power Rankings, some of the teams I ranked are way too low based on what we have seen so far.

Since we will be updating our Power Rankings at the top of each month, I figured in the meantime we should shed a light on the five teams that are sure to be among the biggest risers when we next update the rankings on May 1st.

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New York Yankees: Preseason Ranking (No. 9)

Record: 13-6

If we were to make a new Power Ranking today, the New York Yankees just might headline the list as the best team in all of baseball. The Yankees are the first team in baseball with 13 wins, doing so before a team like the Dodgers, who have played in two additional games.

New York got off to a red-hot start this season, sweeping the Astros in a four-game set that was played in Houston. Considering the playoff history between those two teams in recent memory, the bludgeon the Yankees put on them in Houston was pretty astounding.

They followed up that four-game sweep with four-consecutive series victories, taking their first five series played in 2024. Now this week, we have seen the Yankees hit their first bump of the season, losing the first two games of their set against the Toronto Blue Jays to drop their first series.

With that said, yesterday the Yankees battled back from down 4-1 and scored five runs in the final two frames, including a four-run rally in the ninth to avoid getting swept by their division foe. That level of resiliency speaks volumes for how good this Yankees team can be this year.

Now in my initial ranking of the Yankees, I said the following:

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The New York Yankees have as high of a ceiling as any team in baseball, with Aaron Judge and Juan Soto set to be the most-feared duo in baseball.

As I continued on though, my concerns lied in their lack of starting pitching.

What is keeping the Yankees from being higher on our list is their lack of pitching depth. The Yankees had to sacrifice a lot of their depth in exchange for Soto, and then they lost Gerrit Cole for the start of the season. Cole’s injury casts a shadow over this team until he can return to the mound and prove to be healthy.

Well, I was clearly wrong. At least up to this point.

Marcus Stroman has been outstanding for the Yankees so far, pitching to a 2.42 ERA across his first four starts and 22 1/3 innings pitched. Carlos Rodon has an alarming 1.68 WHIP, but he has limited the damage and has pitched to a solid 3.66 ERA through his first four starts and 19 2/3 innings.

Nestor Cortes has been roughed up a few times this year, giving up four runs on two occasions, but he also had one brilliant start against the Marlins where he pitched eight scoreless with only two hits allowed. His 4.50 ERA is likely to come down as the season wears on.

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At the back-end of the rotation, Clarke Schmidt and Luis Gil have been solid as well, having each allowed six earned runs across their first three starts respectively. Gil actually leads all Yankees pitchers in strikeouts right now with 20 in just 14 IP.

Beyond the Gerrit Cole injury, the Yankees depth has not been tested up to this point in the season, and their current rotation looks good enough to keep them atop the AL East in the early parts of their schedule.

I still have my doubts on how their depth comes into play over a full 162-game schedule, but if they can get Cole back midseason that will answer a lot of my questions.

Whether they are the best team in baseball or somewhere in the top three, I can assure you the Yankees will be much higher than No. 9 in our next power rankings update in May.

Cleveland Guardians: Preseason Ranking (No. 16)

Record: 12-6

Tied for the second-best record in the American League right now with the Baltimore Orioles, the Cleveland Guardians have gotten off to a fantastic start to their season.

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Steven Kwan, Andres Gimenez and Josh Naylor have all started this season red-hot, as all three of them are hitting over .300 with an on-base percentage north of .370. Jose Ramirez has not even gotten going yet, and he still has 15 RBIs with 14 runs scored thanks to all the traffic above him and protection below him in the lineup.

Funny enough, if you read my analysis from the preseason Power Rankings, the Guardians have been exactly the inverse of what I thought they would be.

It would be fair to call the Cleveland Guardians the other co-favorite in the AL Central based on their track record and starting pitching alone. With that said, this lineup leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to packing an offensive punch.

Instead of being a team carried by their starting rotation, with a starting lineup that has been lacking, it has very much been the opposite. The Guardians got two unbelievable starts out of Shane Bieber before losing their ace to Tommy John surgery, and have since gotten some shaky starts from guys like Logan Allen, Tanner Bibee and Triston McKenzie.

Those three will eventually have to step up if the Guardians are going to stay atop a much more competitive AL Central. While the starting rotation is now a question though, the bullpen certainly is not, as the Guardians might just have the best bullpen in baseball.

Milwaukee Brewers: Preseason Ranking (No. 21)

Record: 11-6

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Why did I doubt the Milwaukee Brewers?

The Brewers do not get nearly enough respect for how that franchise has sustained a competitive window for more than five years in a very small market. We saw the effect of their budgetary restraints at the end of the offseason, when they shipped out their ace Corbin Burnes ahead of free agency.

And yet despite losing Burnes in a trade, and both Brandon Woodruff and Devin Williams to injury, it is still the Brewers who remain in first place in the NL Central.

Through 11 games played Christian Yelich looked to be back in MVP form with five home runs and a 205 wRC+. Unfortunately he has hit the IL with a back strain. In his place, the Brewers still have catcher William Contreras and shortstop Willy Adames, who are both off to great starts driving the offense.

Joey Ortiz has fit in like a glove for the Brewers as the headlining piece of the Burnes trade, as he has hit .324/.425/.412, in his first 15 games. Meanwhile Brice Turang is breaking out in his sophomore campaign, having already swiped eight bases, while getting on base at a .368 clip.

The Brewers team wRC+ of 125 is the second-best mark in baseball behind only the Atlanta Braves and their 24 home runs rank third in the league as well. The Brewers currently have nine hitters with a wRC+ of 100 or better.

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There can still be some real questions asked about if the Brewers have enough pitching to win the NL Central again, but their lineup can’t be overlooked. This team very well could be ranked in the top 10 when we make our May update.

Boston Red Sox: Preseason Ranking (No. 22)

Record: 10-9

Ready for some famous last words. Here’s the second line that I wrote about the Red Sox in our initial Powers Rankings:

They have a great slugger in Rafael Devers, who has a relatively strong lineup around him, but there is just no pitching to speak of in Boston.

A rotation of Brayan Bello, Tanner Houck, Nick Pivetta, Kutter Crawford and Garrett Whitlock didn’t look great on paper on Opening Day, and yet here we are three weeks later and the Red Sox have the best starting rotation in baseball.

The Red Sox lead MLB in starting rotation ERA with a 1.85 mark. A lot of that comes from Kutter Crawford, who has allowed just one earned run in 21 1/3 innings pitched. Crawford hasn’t even been the ace though, with Tanner Houck being the bigger story so far for Boston.

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Houck just threw a complete game shutout yesterday against the Cleveland Guardians where he struck out nine batters. He improved his ERA to 1.35 with the start.

Whitlock and Pivetta have both been great too, but they have each hit the Injured List, which will test the depth the Red Sox have. While those injuries could start to derail Boston, it just seems like whoever they plug into the rotation will find a way to be productive based on how things have gone so far.

Boston still might not be quite in the top half of teams in the league when we update our rankings, but they will still surely move up a few slots.

Kansas City Royals: Preseason Ranking (No. 24)

Record: 12-7

Another surprise 12-win team, the Kansas City Royals have hit the ground running after an offseason where they were far more aggressive than anyone imagined they would be. The Royals signed both Michael Wacha and Seth Lugo to bolster their rotation and those moves have worked out great up to this point.

Lugo in particular has been fantastic, pitching to a 1.05 ERA across four starts and 25 2/3 innings pitched. Meanwhile both Cole Ragans and Brady Singer are pitching to sub 2.00 ERA’s as well.

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The Royals rotation has covered more innings than any team in baseball, and their 2.39 collective ERA trails only the Boston Red Sox.

When it comes to their offense, the Royals are led by Bobby Witt Jr. who has made an early bid to be in the AL MVP race this season. Salvador Perez is having a bounceback season as well, and Vinnie Pasquantino, MJ Melendez and Nelson Velazquez are all putting it together offensively to help form a new exciting core around Witt.

The Royals look like a team that could have some real staying power in a wide-open AL Central race. Previously ranked at No. 24, the Royals should find themselves somewhere in the top half of teams in baseball once we update our rankings in May.

Honorable Mention: Pittsburgh Pirates (No. 23)

Record: 11-8

We would be remiss if we did not at least give a passing mention to the Pittsburgh Pirates, who started the year red-hot with a 6-1 record through their first seven games, then a 11-5 record through the first 15.

Only reason why I could not include them among the biggest risers we will see is because I am not completely bought into their fast start based on what happened last year.

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Through the first 28 games last year, the Pirates had a 20-8 record and were looking like one of the best up-and-coming teams in baseball. They proceeded to lose 19 of their next 25 games to fall below .500. They bounced back and got back over .500 at the beginning of June, only to endure a 10-game losing streak in the middle of the month, for which they would never recover.

Pittsburgh finished the season with a 76-86 record, having gone 56-78 after their 20-8 start.

Fast-forward to this year and the Pirates have followed up a 6-1 start, with a 5-7 record over their last 12 games. They just got swept in a three-game series by the Mets and very well could keep losing with a four-game set against the Brewers coming next week.

The Pirates might crack our top 20 in the next update, but I could also see them losing more over the next two weeks to fall back down to .500 or below and end up ranking right back around the No. 23 range.