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MLB Power Rankings Week 2: Who’s the new No. 1 team?

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By jeenmediaa


We have a new top team in our rankings!

The Dodgers have usurped the Braves to take hold of the No. 1 spot, thanks to strong performances from Mookie Betts, Shohei Ohtani and Teoscar Hernandez.

After two weeks of baseball, the Yankees rode a five-game win streak to the majors’ best record at 10-3, followed by … the Pirates and Guardians?!

Meanwhile, our top 10 features three new teams in the Cubs, Red Sox and Guardians — the last of whom made the largest leap of all 30 teams from last week to now, going from No. 21 to No. 10. Will they be able to keep up this dominance?

Our expert panel has combined to rank every team in baseball based on a combination of what we’ve seen so far and what we already knew going into the 162-game marathon that is a full baseball season. We also asked ESPN MLB experts David Schoenfield, Bradford Doolittle, Jesse Rogers, Alden Gonzalez and Jorge Castillo to weigh in with an observation for all 30 teams.

Week 1 | Preseason rankings

Record: 10-5

Previous ranking: 2

Yoshinobu Yamamoto obtained the largest contract ever by a pitcher this offseason, but there’s a reason Tyler Glasnow drew the Dodgers’ first start of 2024. The team’s evaluators believe Glasnow, 30 years old with a checkered injury history, is just starting to tap into what he can become in the big leagues. His Tuesday start against the Twins was another example of that. Glasnow matched a career high with 14 strikeouts through seven scoreless innings, during which he threw just 88 pitches. He was simply dominant — as he has been through the early part of this season. Four starts in, Glasnow holds a 2.25 ERA. — Gonzalez


Record: 7-3

Previous ranking: 1

As we await the official news on Spencer Strider‘s pitching elbow and whether he’ll need a second Tommy John surgery after first undergoing the procedure in college, the Braves turn to replacing their ace starter. Allan Winans replaced Strider on the roster and started on Wednesday. He made six starts last season for the Braves and posted a 5.29 ERA, although with an excellent 34-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Winans got the call over 2023 All-Star Bryce Elder, who scuffled in the second half last season and then struggled in spring training. His first two starts at Triple-A Gwinnett were better (2.61 ERA), but the Braves want to see more. AJ Smith-Shawver is also there, but he lasted just two-thirds of an inning in his first start, walking three batters. Huascar Ynoa, who had his moments for the Braves in 2021, is at Gwinnett, trying to return from Tommy John surgery after not pitching in 2023, but didn’t pitch well his first two starts. For now, it’s Winans. — Schoenfield


Record: 10-3

Previous ranking: 3

Every year, dozens of major leaguers vow to implement changes upon reporting to spring training. Hitters work on mechanical changes. Pitchers experiment with pitches. The list goes on. But rarely are adjustments as immediately effective as the ones Anthony Volpe has incorporated at the plate. Volpe, 22, looks like a different hitter from his 2023 rookie season. His swing path is flatter, and he’s practicing more patience and making hard contact consistently. His production, as a result, has skyrocketed. The shortstop is 16-for-43 (.372) with an 1.041 OPS and three steals — all while still playing elite defense after winning a Gold Glove last season. The hometown kid is on a path to stardom. — Castillo


Record: 7-4

Previous ranking: 4

Pitcher injuries have been the theme to start the season. It seems as if a pitcher is sidelined with an elbow or shoulder ailment every day, and it’s almost always bad — or even terrible — news. But here’s a positive development: Orioles right-hander Kyle Bradish, diagnosed with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow in January, will begin a rehab assignment soon. Bradish, 27, emerged as one of the American League’s top pitchers last season, posting an 2.83 ERA in 30 starts. If he can return anywhere close to that form, he and Corbin Burnes would give the Orioles’ rotation a top-tier one-two punch.

Oh, and the Orioles have called up Jackson Holliday, the consensus No. 1 prospect in the sport. The vibes are looking good in Baltimore. — Castillo


Record: 7-5

Previous ranking: 5

It looks like the Rangers are going to be piecing things together at the hot corner for at least the first half of the season. The reigning champs got brutal early news when hard-luck standout Josh Jung took a pitch off his right wrist. Jung was off to a blazing start, but after undergoing surgery to repair a fracture, he’s now on the 60-day injured list. Texas summoned prospect Justin Foscue to help out in the infield, and he turned up with an oblique injury after logging his first two major league plate appearances. Now another prospect — Davis Wendzel — has been summoned for his first MLB time. Wendzel will help Josh Smith and Ezequiel Duran and, hopefully, Foscue hold down the fort until Jung can get back on the field. — Doolittle


Record: 6-6

Previous ranking: 7

Through the team’s first 12 games, Trea Turner, Alec Bohm, Nick Castellanos, Bryson Stott and Johan Rojas were all without a home run. Bryce Harper has hit three home runs — but all in one game. The slow start from the offense is a reminder that last year’s offense also started off slowly through the first two months — and, really, only put it together in August, when the Phillies went wild and hit 59 home runs with a .907 OPS. The team OPS was under .800 every other month. Last year, Harper was coming back from his Tommy John surgery and didn’t play until May 2, plus several players were at the World Baseball Classic. No similar excuses apply this season. — Schoenfield


Record: 4-9

Previous ranking: 8

Add the Astros to the list of teams who have a complete starting rotation currently on the IL. This week, Framber Valdez‘s sore elbow landed him on the shelf next to Justin Verlander, Luis Garcia, Lance McCullers Jr. and Jose Urquidy. We don’t yet know how long Valdez will be down, but clearly Houston is already scrambling for starting pitchers. Ronel Blanco has been a godsend and Houston summoned 40 FV (future value, per ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel) righty Spencer Arrighetti to make his MLB debut. Unranked prospect Blair Henley was selected to start on short notice against the champion Rangers, got one out and was subsequently optioned back to the minors. Expect plenty of this kind of improvisation for a while. — Doolittle


Record: 7-5

Previous ranking: 15

Everything was going swimmingly for the Cubs until Monday night when they blew an eight-run lead for the first time since 2002. The Padres were the beneficiary of several questionable moves by Chicago manager Craig Counsell, who is known as a good manager of bullpens. It underscores the point that all managers are capable of second guessing — especially when you don’t have the pieces. Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer didn’t add a reliever at last year’s deadline, nor did he add much more than Hector Neris this past offseason. It could come back to bite his team — like it did against San Diego. — Rogers


Record: 7-5

Previous ranking: 13

The Red Sox didn’t spend much money on free agents during the winter — further peeving fans following consecutive last-place finishes the past two seasons — but they have spent some on their young talent. Last month, they gave starter Brayan Bello a six-year extension. This week was Ceddanne Rafaela‘s turn, as he agreed to an eight-year, $50 million contract after playing in just 38 major league games. Rafaela, 23, is a speedster and dynamic defender, both in center field and at shortstop. That versatility is already crucial for the Red Sox. Rafaela, the club’s opening day center fielder, could see more time at shortstop after Trevor Story’s season-ending shoulder injury. — Castillo


Record: 9-3

Previous ranking: 21

Shane Bieber had dominated in his first two starts, throwing 12 scoreless innings, but then came the devastating news that he’ll undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the season. “My performance was getting back to the place I knew I was capable of,” Bieber told reporters, fighting back tears. “I was falling back in love with pitching.” During pregame introductions at the team’s home opener on Monday, the fans gave the 2020 Cy Young winner a huge ovation. For the Guardians, a rotation that was already without Gavin Williams takes a huge blow (Xzavion Curry and Ben Lively are possible replacements, although both are on rehab assignments in Triple-A right now). For Bieber, who’s heading into free agency after this season, there will be no monster contract that he would have received with a healthy season. — Schoenfield


Record: 8-3

Previous ranking: 11

Christian Yelich is off to a hot start, driving the ball like he did during his MVP year back in 2018. The following season was basically the last that he looked this dangerous. In between then and now there were some injuries and little protection in the lineup, but he looks healthy now — and, in a very small sample size, he’s destroying left-handed pitching. He’s 4-for-7 with two home runs against lefties while compiling a near one-to-one overall strikeout-to-walk ratio. This version of Yelich is essential to the Brewers’ chances. — Rogers


Record: 9-3

Previous ranking: 16

Lefty Martin Perez is proving to be a savvy pickup as he has made three starts for the Pirates and given up just four runs over 19 innings. The longtime Ranger didn’t have his best season last year, flipping between starting and relieving, but he’s only a season removed from compiling a 2.89 ERA in 2022 while making 32 starts over 196⅓ innings. Perez is the kind of veteran the Pirates need to help their young rotation. The only question is if he and the team can keep up their hot start to the season. — Rogers


Record: 7-6

Previous ranking: 10

The Rays’ desire to trade Glasnow was one of the offseason’s worst-kept secrets. The question wasn’t if it would happen, but what the Rays would collect in return for the talented, oft-injured pitcher. If Ryan Pepiot‘s start in Colorado on Sunday is any indication, Tampa Bay might have acquired a more-than-adequate replacement for Glasnow.

Pepiot held the Rockies to three hits over six scoreless innings, striking out 11 without a walk in the hitters’ haven that is Coors Field. An oblique injury limited the right-hander to eight outings with the Dodgers last season, but he was plenty good when healthy, posting a 2.14 ERA over 42 innings. The Rays clearly saw something they liked in Pepiot. Their history with pitchers suggests they’ll find a way to maximize his abilities. — Castillo


Record: 6-7

Previous ranking: 6

Asked during spring training about a potential breakout candidate on his team, D-backs general manager Mike Hazen pointed to Ketel Marte. It was a rather odd choice, given that Marte is in his age-30 season and has been in the big leagues for 10 years. We know what he is, basically — which is pretty darn good. But Hazen felt there might be yet another level for Marte, pointing to how he surged through last year’s postseason and how that might springboard him in 2024.

That proved to be the case in the early stages of this season, with Marte carrying a .342/.386/.658 slash line through his first nine games. If Marte can get back to his MVP-level production from 2019, it will go a long way toward the D-backs separating themselves from the Padres and Giants in the National League West. — Gonzalez


Record: 6-7

Previous ranking: 12

The Blue Jays launched the season with a harsh three-city road trip through Tampa, Houston and New York to give workers more time to finish Rogers Centre’s latest round of renovations. The ballpark makeover has received mixed reviews, but the club enjoyed its return home, winning two straight over the Mariners after its 4-6 start against three playoff teams. The Rockies and Yankees travel north next before the Blue Jays leave Canada again. Maybe some home cooking will get Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette going after slow starts at the plate. — Castillo


Record: 7-8

Previous ranking: 18

In case you had forgotten, Fernando Tatis Jr. is still capable of magic. We saw it once again, rather emphatically, on Monday night. Eighth inning. One on, two outs. Down a run. Brushed back on a pitch by Cubs reliever Adbert Alzolay. On the very next one, Tatis launched the game-winning home run, capping an eight-run comeback, electrifying Petco Park and celebrating as emphatically as you might think. The Padres still have superstars. Their fans are still behind them. But they’re still waiting for key guys to get going around Tatis, namely Xander Bogaerts and Manny Machado, the latter of whom is still relegated to designated hitter while recovering from offseason right elbow surgery. — Gonzalez


Record: 7-4

Previous ranking: 14

For the eternally optimistic, every new season has carried with it the renewed hope that Javier Baez can recapture some of what he once had offensively and live up to the expectation of his $140 million contract. And we once again regret to inform those people that there are no signs of that happening. Not yet, at least. Through his first nine games, Baez has mustered only five hits in 33 at-bats, striking out 11 times without drawing any walks or producing any extra-base hits. Baez struck out a NL-leading 184 times in 2021 but still produced an .813 OPS. It dropped to .671 in 2022, then .593 last season, and now, at this very early juncture, it sits at .323. — Gonzalez


Record: 6-6

Previous ranking: 20

Spencer Steer might not have garnered the headlines that Elly De La Cruz earned last year, but he’s certainly getting them now. Steer won player of the week in the NL and is putting up monster numbers one season after posting a 119 OPS+. That number is hovering around 220 right now. Meanwhile, his hard hit percentage is over 50% — up from 37% last year. He’ll surely come back down to earth, but with injuries plaguing the Reds, they need a leader at the plate after Joey Votto moved on. Steer is turning into that guy. — Rogers


Record: 5-8

Previous ranking: 9

As a rookie in 2023, right-hander Bryce Miller was half of a first-division starter. Against righty hitters, Miller was lights out, holding them to a .210/.242/.332 slash line. The news wasn’t so good against lefty swingers, though, with whom opposing managers stacked the lineup whenever Miller took the hill. Those guys hit .282/.340/.521 against him, which was a problem. The solution: a new pitch. Miller has thrown a splitter 20 times in each of his first two starts, with 28 of those 40 offerings attacking his lefty-hitting nemeses. So far: Lefties are hitting .107/.194/.214 against Miller. It’s early, yes, but that’s awfully exciting for a team that needs all the good news it can get. — Doolittle


Record: 4-6

Previous ranking: 17

Byron Buxton, an elite defensive center fielder, didn’t log one inning in the outfield in 2023. To limit his risk of injury, the injury-plagued veteran was the designated hitter in every one of his 80 games. The Twins chose to reverse course this season, and Buxton showed why Monday, robbing Teoscar Hernandez of extra bases with an all-out diving catch in right-center field. Constant major setbacks haven’t allowed Buxton, 30, to reach the potential that once made him the consensus top prospect in the sport. He has played more than 92 games in a season just once in his seven full, non-COVID-shortened campaigns. If he can stay healthy, his glovework alone will make a difference in the Twins’ pursuit of a second straight division title. — Castillo


Record: 8-4

Previous ranking: 23

While many rotations have been affected by injury-related instability so far in 2024, the starting group in Kansas City has fueled the team’s early surge. Kansas City features a top-five rotation ERA but that’s only part of the story. It’s not just one or two breakouts fueling that number — it’s the whole group. The Royals have set the pace in terms of quality starts and average game score so far. With that consistency comes volume: Their starters lead the majors in innings per start despite being middle of the pack in pitches per outing. Can it last? We’ll see, but as long as it does, Kansas City will be a threat in the AL Central. — Doolittle


Record: 5-8

Previous ranking: 19

Blake Snell‘s first start in a Giants uniform was a bit of a dud, which was probably to be expected. He gave up three runs, allowed five baserunners and threw 72 pitches in just three innings on Monday. His stuff looked electric at times, but he was clearly off after a strange offseason in which he signed on March 18, didn’t have the benefit of spring training and was forced to prepare by throwing a five-inning simulated game from Dodger Stadium before the Giants’ seventh game of the regular season. Speaking to reporters after his debut, Snell said: “I’m only going to get better. It’s going to get more crisp. First game, I’m happy it’s out of the way.” — Gonzalez


Record: 6-7

Previous ranking: 22

Is anyone shocked that the Cardinals’ starting staff ranks in the bottom third of the league in ERA? Two of their new pickups, Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson, combined to pitch 11 innings in their last outings, giving up nine runs on eight hits. They’ll both need to be better considering Sonny Gray is just coming back from injury. On the bright side, he looked great on Tuesday against the Phillies. Still, St. Louis is putting all its eggs in this basket, counting on aging starters to turn the team around. It’s a risky proposition with a low level of confidence in its success. — Rogers


Record: 6-6

Previous ranking: 25

Given Mike Trout‘s injury luck, it’ll be hard for Angels fans to avoid cringing every time he runs into a wall, gets hit by a pitch or runs hard from first to third. So far — fingers crossed — Trout has looked as good as he has in years, fueling hopes for a vintage, and complete, season for the future first-ballot Hall of Famer. He has even stolen two bases, a total he hasn’t exceeded since 2019. Trout’s six early homers have him on an epic pace, but the other part of that story is his RBI total — eight on those first six dingers. That might be a season-long disconnect. With Trout hitting third, the Angels lead the majors in OPS from the three-hole. But the combined on-base percentage for the three spots ahead of him — 9-1-2 — ranks near the bottom of the majors. — Doolittle


Record: 4-7

Previous ranking: 24

Francisco Lindor is off to such a slow start — 4-for-45 (.089) — that Mets fans are trying to organize a standing ovation for him when they return home on Friday, hoping to boost him up similar to what Phillies fans did with Trea Turner last August. It does look in part like a run of bad luck, as Lindor has just six strikeouts in 53 plate appearances. He has had just one other 11-game stretch (non-overlapping) when he hit under .100, back in September of 2016. He had an 11-game stretch last year in May and June when he hit .114, but he still managed three home runs and seven RBIs, as opposed to one home run and two RBIs in this stretch. — Schoenfield


Record: 5-7

Previous ranking: 27

An early bright spot for the Nationals is CJ Abrams, who hit .306/.359/.611 through his first nine games (he missed three games with a finger injury) with three home runs — including blasts of 423 feet and 429 feet. Those are longer than any of the 18 home runs he hit last season, a sign that his power is continuing to develop. Indeed, keep the sample size in mind here, but his average launch angle has gone from 6.8 degrees as an overmatched rookie in 2022 to 13.5 degrees in 2023 to 22.3 so far in 2024. It’s an interesting twist for a prospect once projected as more of a high-average hitter with minimal power, but who now may be turning into a 25- to 30-homer guy. — Schoenfield


Record: 2-11

Previous ranking: 26

The Marlins started 0-9 before finally breaking through on Sunday with a 10-3 win over the Cardinals. Jazz Chisholm Jr. hit two home runs while Max Meyer picked up his first MLB victory in allowing just one run and three hits over six innings. The Marlins thus avoided becoming just the seventh team since 1900 to begin the season with at least 10 consecutive losses. Meyer was impressive with his fastball/slider combo, inducing 11 groundouts. He wasn’t supposed to be in the rotation — Miami had actually optioned Meyer to the minors in March, hoping to bring him back slowly after not pitching last season — but injuries in the rotation forced the Marlins to call him back up. — Schoenfield


Record: 4-8

Previous ranking: 30

Mason Miller‘s electric arsenal plays in a number of key staff roles, but so far this season he’s a closer. He has had myriad arm issues, so the short relief gig could help protect him to a degree. Still, while his average four-seamer has ascended into triple-digits in the short stints, he has largely abandoned his changeup and cutter to this point. As a closer, Miller has shined with his four-seamer/slider combo, but it’ll be interesting to see going forward if he becomes pigeonholed as a reliever as his in-progress secondary offerings trend toward atrophy. — Doolittle


Record: 3-10

Previous ranking: 29

Kyle Freeland had a really good spring, posting a 2.37 ERA in 19 Cactus League innings, but he struggled mightily when the games began to start. The Rockies’ 30-year-old left-hander gave up a whopping 17 runs and allowed 24 of 40 batters to reach during his first two starts against the D-backs and Cubs. But Freeland was better in his third start against the division-rival D-backs (4 runs, 2 earned, in five innings) and should eventually get back to doing what he normally does — taking down innings and putting up above-average park-adjusted numbers. One good sign early on: His four-seam fastball has been averaging 92 mph, where it stood in 2020 before declining for three straight years. — Gonzalez


Record: 2-10

Previous ranking: 28

Chicago’s futility on offense is shocking but what can you expect when Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert Jr. and now Yoan Moncada are once again out of the lineup with injuries? It has led to a historically bad start at the plate — the White Sox were shut out four times in their first 10 games and scored a total of 16 runs. That’s the fewest for an MLB team through its first 10 games since 2004 and fewest for the White Sox through 10 since 1968. They had a one day reprieve on Tuesday, scoring seven against the Guardians, but that’s the same day Moncada was lost with an adductor strain. It’s going to be a long year for Chicago. — Rogers



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