Baseball’s Opening Weekend is officially behind us, with all teams having played at least their first three games of the season. There are some surprises but it’s still just three games out of a 162-game slate for these teams.
The Tampa Bay Rays are off to a scorching start and start this year’s MLB Diamond power rankings in the top spot. Surprisingly, the Dodgers lost two of their first three but that won’t hurt their full-season outlook. Top prospects have made their debuts, including two of baseball’s top three prospects: Bobby Witt Jr (MLB Network No. 1) for the Royals and Julio Rodriguez (No. 3) for the Mariners. Hope springs eternal in baseball’s opening week. Here are the rankings:
1. Tampa Bay Rays (3-0)
It helps to start your season against one of baseball’s worst rosters, and the Rays did just that. The Rays took three games of three over the weekend against the Baltimore Orioles. That’s exactly what good teams are supposed to do: beat the bad ones. Last year’s standout rookie (and former Superstar Level Prospect) Wander Franco is off to a scorching start to the season. Franco has six hits in his first twelve plate appearances to start the season. He is slashing .545/.500/.636 to start the 2022 campaign.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers (1-2)
I’m not going to overreact to a three-game sample. The Dodgers started their season in Colorado, not a pretty place for pitchers. It showed, where they allowed fifteen runs over their first three games. The pitching will settle in and the bats will get hot in due time. Youngster Gavin Lux is off to a promising start to the season, hitting .375 early thus far. The top of the lineup needs to get started and then the Dodgers will be just fine.
3. Houston Astros (3-1)
The Astros are averaging five runs per game, despite hitting just .225 as a team. Once those bats heat up, the league better watch out. More impressive, the pitching staff has been lights-out early this season, allowing just two and a half runs per game in their first four contests of the season. The line-up was going to be fine this season, even without Superstar Carlos Correa. Bregman, Altuve, and Alvarez are among the best in baseball at their positions. The pitching was the question mark (if they had one at all) and the Astros are showing out in that aspect. In his return from injury, Justin Verlander pitched five innings, allowing just three hits, one run, and earning seven strikeouts. Big for the ‘Stros.
4. San Diego Padres (3-1)
Is this the Padres team we’ve been waiting to see all this time? The Padres start their season 3-1, tied for second in the MLB with 20 runs scored. Last year’s free-agent signing, Jurickson Profar, is off to a blistering start at the plate. He’s hitting .400 with a 1.538 OPS to start the season. The Blake Snell injury will hurt some, but the bullpen held it down in Saturday’s win over Arizona. Sean Manaea flirted with a no-hitter, taking one into the seventh inning just one game after fellow Padres’ starter Yu Darvish took his into the 6th on Opening Day. Much like the Rays, it helps to start your season against the league’s bottom-dwellers.
5. Chicago White Sox (2-1)
Just one team in the entire MLB currently sits in the top-five of both runs scored per game and runs allowed per game. The White Sox have allowed just 2.6 runs per game while scoring 6.33 runs per game on offense. Lucas Giolito was excellent on Opening Day before future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera walked it off in the bottom of the ninth for the Tigers’ victory. Dylan Cease and Michael Kopech followed it up with outstanding starts of their own. Third overall pick, Andrew Vaughn, is hitting .400 to start the season, including two home runs. Not to be outdone, MVP candidate Tim Anderson has started the season with an impressive 1.600 OPS.
6. Cleveland Guardians (1-2)
Perhaps a surprise here, the Guardians started their season with losses in their first two games. Despite the two losses, Cleveland is currently third in baseball in runs allowed per game. At the same time, they’ve scored the 6th most runs per game. A 17-run outburst on Sunday helps to boost their ranking, but runs are runs. Steven Kwan, the 24-year old Center Fielder for the Guardians, is 8-10 to start the season and has reached base 12 times in the season’s first three games. His 1.857 OPS currently leads the entire Major Leagues. Have the Guardians found their superstar of the future?
7. St. Louis Cardinals (2-1)
The Cardinals rank 3rd in runs scored and 11th in runs allowed (much better than league average). They’ve started their season against the Pirates, sure, but the offensive production is no fluke. Dylan Carlson (1.029 OPS), Paul Goldschmidt (.904 OPS), and Nolan Arenado (1.788 OPS) are terrorizing opposing pitchers in the top half of the Cardinals lineup. The pitching will need to settle in, especially their starters, but if Adam Wainwright‘s Opening Day start is any indicator, it could prove big for the Cards’ rotation.
8. New York Mets (3-1)
Are the Mets back? By Pythagorean win/loss, the Mets rank third in the major leagues, behind just the Rays and Guardians to start the season. Their staff ERA is 1.54 to start the 2022 season while hitting .293 as a team. Jeff McNeil (.438 average), Mark Canha (.700 average), and Francisco Lindor (1.054 OPS) have led the early offense. That’s a welcome sight from Mets fans, after Lindor’s struggles last season in his first season as a Met. As good as the offense has been, the rotation has been even better for New York, who hope to capture their first division title since their World Series appearance in 2015.
9. San Francisco Giants (2-1)
The Giants have a tall task ahead of them if they hope to repeat last year’s 106-win masterpiece of a regular season. They’ve started their season 2-1, despite hovering in the bottom half of the league in runs scored per game. Their pitching has been strong, however, anchored by offseason pick-up, Carlos Rodon. In his first start of the season, he went five innings, allowed three hits, one run, and struck out 12 Marlin batters.
10. New York Yankees (2-1)
Against a tough division opponent, the rival Red Sox, the Yankees took two of three to start their season off with at least a series split (the first game was postponed in the four-game series). Anthony Rizzo (.300), Aaron Judge (.308), and Giancarlo Stanton (.385) look like a formidable heart of the lineup that the Yankees have been hoping for in recent years. Rizzo and Stanton both have two home runs apiece following the first series of the season. If the Yankees hope to contend in perhaps the toughest division in baseball, they’ll need to sustain the strong start from their pitching staff.