The first week of the 2017 MLB season has come and gone, and as is usually the case with this wonderful sport, little went as expected.
Are you a fan of multi-homer games? Non-roster invitee Daniel Nava and pitcher Madison Bumgarner had you covered last week.
Like a team with strong pitching? It's the Minnesota Twins (2.04) and Cincinnati Reds (3.06) that lead their respective leagues in ERA after both clubs posted an ERA north of 4.90 a year ago.
Prefer a more analytical approach? That same Twins team (plus-17) and the Arizona Diamondbacks (plus-19) are tops in the AL and NL in run differential. They're also fresh off of 103- and 93-loss seasons, respectively.
There are two lessons here: Always expect the unexpected in baseball, and remember not to put too much stock in a small sample size.
That second point is especially true in the first in-season edition of our weekly MLB power rankings.
A team's potential and overall outlook will still carry significantly more weight than anything it's shown over just a handful of games.
It's a fluid process, with teams rising and falling based on where they were ranked the previous week. If a team keeps winning, it will keep climbing—it's as simple as that.
With that in mind, here's an updated look at where all 30 teams stand heading into this week's action:
Arizona Diamondbacks (up 11 spots)
A 6-1 week that included a series win over the San Francisco Giants and a sweep of the Cleveland Indians sends the Diamondbacks vaulting higher up these rankings than any other team.
"It's obviously been fun," first baseman Paul Goldschmidt told Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. "When you're winning, it's fun. But I think we also realize it hasn’t even been a week of baseball. We just try to keep playing hard, having good at-bats, playing good 'D' and see what happens. It's been a good start, but there's a long road ahead."
The D-backs were perhaps baseball's most disappointing team a year ago when they entered the season with legitimate playoff hopes and ended it in fourth place in the NL West with 93 losses, but there's no question they have the talent to turn things around.
The starting rotation has been solid, led by Patrick Corbin and Zack Greinke, while Archie Bradley (2 G, 5.1 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 8 K) has quickly proved to be a valuable multi-inning option out of the pen.
Closer Fernando Rodney bounced back nicely from a rough Opening Day outing to nail down a pair of save chances later in the week, easing some concerns over the back of the bullpen, at least for the time being.
Offensively, the team's 48 runs scored currently lead all of baseball, and it's once again Goldschmidt leading the charge.
Also, keep an eye on Brandon Drury (10-for-21, 1 2B, 1 3B) as a potential breakout candidate.
Ranking the Diamondbacks at No. 19 to open the year was admittedly a conservative approach based on last year's finish, so that explains their huge first-week jump.
Baltimore Orioles (up 9 spots)
The Orioles kicked things off with a strong showing against a pair of AL East foes, sweeping a quick two-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays before taking two of three from the New York Yankees over the weekend.
Mark Trumbo provided some early fireworks with a walk-off home run in the 11th inning on Opening Day, though that's one of just five home runs the team has hit so far—good for 20th in the league.
The starting rotation was hit-and-miss with Dylan Bundy (7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K) tossing a gem and Ubaldo Jimenez (4.1 IP, 7 H, 5 ER) immediately looking like someone who won't be able to hold down a rotation spot.
However, the bullpen was brilliant once again, pitching to a 3.05 ERA and recording three wins while All-Star closer Zach Britton ran his consecutive saves streak to 52 with a 3-for-3 first week.
He's now one of just five pitchers in MLB history with a save streak of 50 or longer.
More AL East opponents await with series against the Boston Red Sox and Blue Jays once again this week, giving the O's a great opportunity to solidify that higher spot in these rankings.
Colorado Rockies (up 8 spots)
The Rockies opened the season by taking three of four from the Brewers in Milwaukee, then closed out the week with a series win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The starting rotation struggled through a tough week with a 2-2 record and 5.11 ERA, but the bullpen picked up the slack in a big way.
Over 25 innings of work in seven games, the relief corps went 3-0 with a 2.88 ERA, and new closer Greg Holland nailed down all four of his save chances while allowing just one walk and striking out six in four scoreless innings.
Meanwhile, the offense was led by Mark Reynolds (1.201 OPS, 3 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBI) who only finds himself in the starting lineup in place of the injured Ian Desmond. He rejoined the team on a minor league deal during the offseason.
In such a hitter-friendly park, it's always about pitching for the team many view as a dark-horse contender, so a standout first week from the bullpen was great to see.
Toronto Blue Jays (down 6 spots)
It was a messy first week for the Blue Jays, who were swept by the Baltimore Orioles before dropping three of four to the Tampa Bay Rays.
The bullpen was roughed up for three losses and a pair of blown saves, and all eight pitchers who appeared in relief allowed at least one earned run. Closer Roberto Osuna can't return soon enough from his early trip to the disabled list, and J.P. Howell joined him there over the weekend.
Josh Donaldson was also forced out of Sunday's game with right calf tightness, an issue that plagued him during spring training.
"This was on the outside part of my calf," Donaldson told Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com. "It sort of just started responding to some treatment and stuff that we were doing after. Everything checked out to be in good shape, and day to day is what they're telling me."
Those injury concerns, coupled with a disastrous first start from Francisco Liriano (0.1 IP, 3 H, 4 BB, 5 ER) all add up to the Blue Jays suffering the biggest drop after one week.
Seattle Mariners (down 6 spots)
The Mariners will need to find a way to respond to blowing a six-run, ninth-inning lead Sunday against the Los Angeles Angels—the cherry on top of a 1-6 first week.
That wasn't the only rough game for the relief corps, either, as it recorded three losses and three blown saves while pitching to a 7.33 ERA.
The offense should once again be among the most potent in all of baseball, so it's the pitching that will decide how far this team goes.
That makes a rocky first week from the bullpen unsettling to say the least and explains the team's precipitous fall in our rankings.
MVPs of the Week
AL MVP: SP Dallas Keuchel, HOU
Stats: 2 GS, W, ND, 14.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 8 K
One of the biggest storylines of the offseason was the Houston Astros and their perceived lack of a true front-line starter atop the rotation.
Dallas Keuchel was that guy in 2015 when he went 20-8 with a 2.48 ERA to win AL Cy Young honors. His ERA spiked to 4.55 last season, though, and it was later revealed that he pitched through a sore shoulder for most of the year.
Two starts into his 2017 campaign, Keuchel is looking an awful lot like that ace the Astros were supposedly lacking.
NL MVP: 1B Paul Goldschmidt, ARI
Stats: 31 PA, 9-for-26, 3 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 8 R, 2 SB
Paul Goldschmidt led the offensive charge for an Arizona Diamondbacks team that made a loud statement in the season's first week.
He took Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija deep during the team's series win over the San Francisco Giants and then smacked a go-ahead, two-run double off Josh Tomlin in Friday's game against the Cleveland Indians.
The 29-year-old also recorded his 100th career stolen base Wednesday.
Stats of the Week
Just how unlikely was the Los Angeles Angels ninth-inning rally Sunday? ESPN Stats & Info revealed:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Teams leading by 6+ runs entering 9th were 2,529-1 since 2011. The only loss was the Royals defeating the White Sox on May 28 last season. https://t.co/N87POMcA842017-4-9 23:10:53
Looks like "pretty unlikely" would be the appropriate response.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota Twins had high hopes for Miguel Sano heading into last season after he posted a .916 OPS with 18 home runs in 335 plate appearances as a rookie.
The hype train left the station a bit early, though. He hit just .236 with a .781 OPS and 25 long balls last season and lost some of his long-term luster in the process.
But that's nothing a favorable comparison to a future Hall of Famer can't fix:
MLB Statistics @MLBRandomStats
Thru 200 games with the #MNTwins: Miguel Sano: .844 OPS, 44 HR, 110 BB (23.332 yrs old) David Ortiz: .811 OPS, 15 HR, 88 BB (24.268 yrs old)2017-4-8 16:35:35
If that doesn't leave you with a half-full glass of Sano-flavored Kool-Aid to sip on, nothing will.
*That was a "glass half full" and a "sipping the Kool-Aid" reference wrapped into one. I'll start clearing a spot on my desk for that Pulitzer now.
Must-See Upcoming Matchup
Arizona Diamondbacks at Los Angeles Dodgers (April 14-17)
The Arizona Diamondbacks had the best first week of any team in baseball.
Now they'll have a chance to continue building momentum when they square off against the reigning NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers this weekend.
The Dodgers took the season series last year, 12-7, but it's fair to say this is a different Arizona team.
The series opener Friday will feature Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke—who spent three seasons as the league's best starting pitching tandem atop the Dodgers rotation—going head-to-head for the first time in their careers.
Greinke went 1-2 with a 5.60 ERA in three starts against the Dodgers last year after jumping ship to sign a massive six-year, $206.5 million deal with Arizona.
The D-backs (plus-19) and Dodgers (plus-18) enter the week with the two best run differentials in baseball.
Thoughts on our new power rankings format or looking for someone to yell at about where your favorite team was slotted in the latest rankings? I'll meet you here: Follow @JoelReuterBR