The 2011 season has been bizarre. The Baltimore Orioles started 6-1, while division rivals Boston and Tampa Bay were 0-6. The defending champions are .500, Albert Pujols is batting .239 and the Cleveland Indians have the second-best record in all of baseball.
Some things are just as we expected them to be: The Phillies' starting rotation is great, the Yankees are tearing the cover off the ball and the D-Backs have a sky-high ERA.
Three weeks in, things are starting to return to normal but they are not there yet. With that in mind, here are week three's power rankings.
The Astros have only two players with a batting average over .270 (Angel Sanchez and Hunter Pence), have no players with more than one home run, only Pence is in double figures in RBI (12) and Brett Myers is the only starter with an ERA under five. In short, it has been a horrid start for Houston.
What has happened to the Twins? Playoff favourites in the preseason, they have got off to a woeful start. Last in runs, OPS and homers, second-last in OBP and SLG, it has been a bad three weeks. To make matters worse, Joe Mauer is now on the DL with a leg problem and was batting just .235 with one XBH before he went down.
Nothing will go right for Seattle, will it? Their lethargic offense ranks 26th in OBP, 27th in runs and last in average and slugging percentage. 2010 Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez has a 4.33 ERA so far. When your sole great pitcher is struggling, you know your team is not going anywhere.
The Mets are ranked a little higher than they probably deserve because all but two of their losses have come against teams better than .500 and they get a little benefit of the doubt. Make no mistake, though: they have been a terrible team so far.
The Diamondbacks had the worst pitching in MLB last season, so how have things changed in 2011? Well, they haven’t. With a 5.55 ERA, a WHIP over 1.5 and opponents almost batting .300 against them, their pitching is, yet again, dire. Better news lies in their offense.
At the plate they have been pleasantly surprising and are in the top 10 in runs, average, OBP and SLG. Their pitching nullifies all that, though.
After an 0-6 start, the Sox have gone 4-4. It is far from great, but it is an improvement. A very good sign for Boston is the fact that Josh Beckett pitched two great games back-to-back, including a gem against the Yankees.
That said, the team still has the worst ERA in baseball. It’s not even close. At 6.32, only the Diamondbacks and Mets are within a run.
After making perhaps the most surprising start of any team, the Os lead the AL East with a 6-1 record. Since then, they have come crashing back to earth and lost seven straight. They have surrendered at least six runs in four of their last five games and have been outscored 49-17 during their losing streak.
One could make a case that LA has been unlucky in a few games this year and the team’s record should be better than it is. The other side of that argument would be that the Dodgers just cannot win close games and are not good in the clutch. Regardless, they are still not as good as the Rockies. A walk-off win over the Cardinals last night will certainly have given them a boost, however.
Detroit had a pretty big offseason but has not made a strong start this year. It is difficult to know what has gone wrong; it is a different thing each night. If they can get it all sorted out – especially at the plate – things can turn around quickly for the Tigers.
San Diego almost made the playoffs on the back of their pitching last season and 2011 looks like a similar story. Unfortunately, without slugger Adrian Gonzalez they are finding it difficult to score runs, mustering just 54.
Yet again we have an example of a team who can hit but not pitch, or pitch but not hit. Atlanta is the latter.
Their 3.09 earned run average is bettered by only three teams (Texas, LA Angels and Oakland) and veteran ace Derek Lowe has been brilliant, pitching to a 1.82 mark. His record is just 2-2, though, which should tell you all you need to know about the Braves’ offense.
They have scored six runs in a game just twice.
For a time, the Pirates had a winning record. They do not anymore. There is not much else to say.
The Rays’ season has started in the exact opposite way to Baltimore’s. Tampa lost their first six but a five-game winning streak has helped them to 6-9.
They have been helped by the fact they have just played series against Boston and Minnesota but the Rays have performed better since Manny Ramirez retired.
They even have a legend on their hands in Sam Fuld, who has become baseball’s answer to Chuck Norris on Twitter and will be honoured with Sam Fuld Superhero Cape Night at Tropicana Field in May.
After retooling their offense in the winter, the Cubs have been a much stronger side than they were last season. Their pitching is still abysmal, though. Overall, they might have a shot at the worst team in the league on the mound. They have already had seven men start games and their team ERA is 5.26. On the other hand, young Starlin Castro has had a cracking start to 2011. He shows a lot of promise.
Eleventh in ERA, eleventh in runs. It has been a very average start for the Jays and their average 7-8 record proves it. Jose Bautista has three home runs already, though, so perhaps he was not on steroids last season after all.
If anyone was afraid that Prince Fielder would have a down year amid the stresses and strains of trade rumors, they needn’t have been.
Fielder has been great, with an MLB-best 16 RBI. Ryan Braun is also having a good season, batting .327 with four homers. Rickie Weeks has more total bases than both of them.
The rest of the club has struggled, however, which is why as a team they are batting just .255 and have scored only 56 runs.
The White Sox knew they would have a shot at the AL Central crown this season, with their relatively new-look lineup. They were right.
Well, they were right that their offense would be good; it is – only four teams have scored more runs. But, whilst their pitching has not been awful, it has been shaky, and that is why they are only third in the division, four games back from the Indians.
Quick quiz: Who, three weeks into the season, has the best ERA in baseball?
Wrong. It’s the Oakland Athletics.
Their 2.59 figure is almost a whole run better than the Phillies’ with their vaunted rotation. So why then, are the As only .500?
Well, they cannot hit. Perhaps they should have signed Adrian Beltre when they had a chance. He already has four home runs and 13 RBI.
The Nationals lost their big-name pitcher Stephen Strasburg to Tommy John surgery before the season even started. Despite that, their pitching has been great, with four of their starters having ERAs below 3.40.
Washington has the fourth-worst slugging percentage which makes one think they will miss Adam Dunn a lot this year but for now, their pitching is making up much of the difference.
Almost every stat about the Marlins in 2011 is middle-of-the-road. But we know they have a very good, young pitching rotation headed by Josh Johnson. If the rest catch up with him, and come anywhere near his ERA (which now stands at 1.35), the Marlins could be a dangerous team.
Albert Pujols’ struggles have been well-documented. A .239/.288/.433 line is dreadful, especially by his high standards. However, even with that, the Cardinals’ offense has been the best in the game, statistically at least.
St Louis has scored at least six runs in seven of their last eight games and is first in runs, average, OBP and OPS. What has let them down has been their pitching, which has been decidedly average, ranking 15th in ERA. Chris Carpenter is yet to get a win.
There are signs of a World Series hangover. The rotation, which was so dominant last season, is good but not great. The offense is merely average.
But they still have a winning record. When they heat up, they will seriously challenge the Rockies.
Wow, where did the Royals come from? No one gave KC much chance of accomplishing much in 2011. Then they traded away their best pitcher, Zack Greinke.
That has not slowed them down at all but it is their offense which has done most of the work, racking up the fourth-highest run total.
The fears about the Yankees' rotation seem to have been valid. New York's ERA is 4.57 and their starters have managed only five quality starts.
However, that does not matter because they are crushing the ball. New Yankee Stadium is a sandbox but the Yanks have taken it to a new level in the early going this year. They are a mile in front of everyone in home runs and SLG.
Their pitching is not dominant but with the bat this lineup is immense.
Only Texas, Cleveland and Philadelphia have a better run differential and the Reds have scored 13 runs more than any of those teams. Their 92 runs scored are best in the Majors.
Reigning MVP Joey Votto is batting .444 with two homers.
Owners of the best ongoing winning streak (five games), the Angels tied with the AL champion Rangers for the best record in the West.
While their hitting has been good, that is entirely down to their pitching. The Halos are the best in the Majors in WHIP, BAA and quality starts and second in ERA.
One of the biggest surprises so far. The Indians have the second-best record in all of baseball, are swinging the bat well and their pitching has been lights out at times. It will be difficult to sustain it for a whole season but for the moment, Cleveland fans can enjoy some kind of success.
After three weeks, the best sign for the defending American League champions is that their pitching has been so great, ranking third in ERA, WHIP and opposing batting average.
We expected their offense to be good but their pitching was a question mark with the loss of Cliff Lee in the offseason.
They lost two of three in New York over the weekend but can take solace in the fact that they have not had great success against the Yankees in recent years, ALCS aside.
Troy Tulowitzki could not have made a better start to the season and – after signing a massive contract this winter – it is a much-needed one.
There are two reasons the Rockies are not number one despite having the best record in baseball.
One, they have played the Cubs, Mets and Pirates, who are not exactly World Series contenders.
Two, the Phillies are still the best team.
No one has surrendered fewer runs than the Phillies. They lead the NL East. They have the best team batting average in the Majors, at .296.
None of that is surprising.
Everyone knew Philadelphia’s rotation would be dominant, with Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels, and it has been brilliant right out of the gate. However, in games where they allow more than four runs they are 1-3.
That is pretty much the only negative thing to say about the team so far.