Warning: These aren't your basic, boring power rankings. If you want to look at an objective list of records in order, go to the standings page.
These are rankings with guts. Real power rankings should include some subjectivity, including the eye test, and be separate from the standings.
Too often, we search through lists for an observable hierarchical structure that offers some semblance of real power, only to be left thinking: seriously, the Indians?
Not here. These rankings aren't afraid to avoid trends, break from popular opinion or ignore hot and cold streaks.
The following is my first installment of "Realness Rankings." Enjoy and comment!
Place: Fifth, NL West
The Padres haven't had even a decent batting lineup in recent memory. So far this season, they sport the MLB's worst batting average, which is no surprise, as their roster looks like it could pass for a Triple-A team.
Their bullpen has been a lone bright spot to this point, but the Padres are lacking heavily in almost every other department.
They currently reside in the cellar in the NL West, and they just don't have enough talent to move up the ladder any time soon.
Place: Sixth, NL Central
Aside from Hunter Pence, the Astros have a weird combination of unproven young players and ineffective veterans.
Their bats wake up in spurts, but for the most part, their lineup is very inconsistent and lacks pop, with only 35 home runs so far.
Add to that one of the worst pitching staffs in baseball, and you've got yourself a pretty bad team. But who knows? Maybe they'll show up in the second half, like they've made a habit of doing in recent years.
Place: Fifth, NL East
With Stephen Strasburg and Ryan Zimmerman on the shelf, they don't have a franchise-caliber player. They've brought in a handful of new faces, but nobody who is really going to turn them into contenders any time soon.
They do have a couple of young studs in Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard who they should hang onto and use as building blocks, but it could be awhile down the road until the rest of the team is talented enough to make noise.
Place: Fourth, NL East
The Mets have always been a good team on paper, but for some reason that just hasn't translated to wins in recent years.
They aren't exactly getting younger, and a couple of key injuries and an underwhelming pitching staff definitely aren't helping either.
Unless they're able to make some drastic changes, it looks like Mets fans are in store for another disappointing season.
Place: Fifth, AL East
After a very hot start, the Orioles have come back down to Earth.
They are actually reconstructing their team very nicely. Buck Showalter has his team energized and fans excited for the future. It's just a shame they have to play in the AL East, which is perennially the most competitive division in baseball.
The youngest team in baseball won't have enough firepower to catch the star-studded Red Sox or Yankees this season, but as the young talent continues to mature, fans have something to be optimistic about, and the Orioles could definitely become contenders again in the near future.
Place: Fourth, AL Central
The Royals' offense has carried them to most of their wins this year.
It's the pitching staff that is the problem. They have been absolutely depressing thus far, ranking in the bottom three in ERA, WHIP, and strikeouts.
Although the offense has been a surprise, the team leaders are Wilson Betemit, Jeff Francoeur and Melky Cabrera, so it's hard to imagine the production to remain steady from the hitters.
Place: Fifth, NL Central
So far, the story for the Cubs has been losing close games to divisional opponents.
The hitting is there, but the pitching has been dismal, ranking dead last in the majors in walks and WHIP. You're not going to win a lot of games by putting runners on base.
The Cubs have the tools in place to be a contending team, they just have to get more consistency from their pitchers.
With a bunch of games coming up against NL Central teams, the Cubs can really make up for the games they gave away early within the division.
Place: Fourth, AL West
Oakland's pitching staff leads the majors in ERA at 2.99 with Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill as the anchors.
A's fans have to take the good with the bad, however, as they have one of the most pathetic offenses you can find on paper. Their leading hitter is Coco Crisp, with a discouraging .266 batting average to date.
Their pitching figures to get even stronger when Dallas Braden returns from the DL, but unless they find some lumber, their pitching won't be able to carry them.
Place: Second, AL West
Some consider the AL West the best division, because there are no bad teams.
Some, on the other hand, would argue that there are three bad teams, and there just haven't been enough games played for their records to show it yet.
The Mariners have looked completely unimpressive so far, as they are in the same boat as their division counterpart A's, with solid pitching and pitiful hitting.
Right now, Seattle looks average at best, as their record suggests, but in a division that is always up for grabs, they could hang around for awhile.
Place: Third, AL Central
Ozzie Guillen could use a big winning streak right about now.
The White Sox stumbled out of the gate with huge bullpen issues, losing several games late because relievers weren't able to get the job done. Now, Ozzie Guillen is taking heat for how poorly his team is playing.
The White Sox have to take advantage of the fact that they are in a soft division.
Place: Third, NL West
Two years removed from having the best regular-season record in the National League, the Dodgers continue to struggle to find their winning ways.
Statistically, the Dodgers are middle of the pack in just about everything, but they have All-Star caliber players in Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, who are capable of carrying them to the playoffs.
Things won't get any easier in June for the Dodgers, as they have one of the most grueling road stands of the season forthcoming. They will play 10 straight days at Cincinnati, Philadelphia, and Colorado before returning home.
We'll be able to get a pretty good idea of the Dodgers' significance about halfway through this month.
Place: Fourth, NL Central
The Pirates are loaded with young talent.
The worst team in baseball from a year ago is definitely improving. Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker, and Jose Tabata are the foundation of the offense, while Kevin Correia, Joel Hanrahan, and Charlie Morton are pleasant surprises on the mound so far, showing promise for the young Bucs.
Though it might be a while until they're able to contend, they appear to be moving in the right direction. As long as they hang onto all of their prospects, they should be an exciting team to watch in the near future.
Place: Fifth, AL Central
It's almost time to start panicking if you're a Twins fan.
Sure, they usually get hot at the end of the season, but you can't always count on playing catch up. They rank last in the majors in runs, RBI, ERA, and most importantly, wins.
You'd like to attribute their slow start to Joe Mauer being out, and to his credit, he is the staple of their offense, but they've played so poorly it doesn't seem like he'd be able to make that big of a difference.
They're fully capable of turning things around in a big way in a division that doesn't appear to have an elite team, but they're going to have to be better than the worst team in baseball until Mauer gets back.
Place: Fourth, AL East
Jose Bautista is slowly becoming one of the better hitters in baseball, and while he continues his monster 2011 campaign, it seems like it's rubbing off on his teammates Corey Patterson and Adam Lind.
If Bautista is able to maintain anywhere near the numbers he has produced so far, you could be looking at your first Blue Jays MVP since George Bell won the award in 1987.
Place: First, NL West
After finishing with a sub-par 65 wins in 2010, the Diamondbacks are going to have to prove that they can compete for more than two months if they want to earn some serious respect.
With some major explosiveness in the heart of the lineup, thanks to Justin Upton and Chris Young, Arizona has managed to carry a division lead into June.
If it's going to last deeper into the season, they're going to need better starts out of Daniel Hudson and Joe Saunders, as the rotation is underperforming.
Place: Second, AL Central
They have one of the best hitter-pitcher combinations in baseball with Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander, but the rest of the team has failed to deliver consistently.
Jhonny Peralta has been a nice complement to Cabrera in the lower half of the order, but the rest of the team is going to need to pick it up if they want to snap their division title drought.
Place: Second, NL Central
The Brewers are a dangerous team inside of Miller Park. They're 21-7 there, which is the best home record in the bigs.
Ryan Braun is playing like an MVP, and with Rickie Weeks and Prince Fielder in the same lineup, the Brewers are third in the NL in runs.
Once Zack Greinke returns to form, rounding out the rotation very nicely, there's no telling how good the Brewers could be.
There's a long way to go, but Milwaukee looks like they can be legitimate contenders for the remainder of the season.
Place: Third, AL West
Jered Weaver started out the 2010 season 6-0, on pace to what many thought would be one of the most dominant seasons ever, but he quickly overshadowed the fantastic start by failing to record a win in May.
Weaver is now 6-4, but that hasn't slowed down the rest of the Angels. He and Dan Haren might be the best one-two punch in the American League.
The Angels are strong in all areas and definitely have the capacity to return to the playoffs.
Place: Third, NL East
Jair Jurrjens is well on his way to being considered the most improved player in baseball.
A season after struggling with command and injuries, Jurrjens currently claims the lowest ERA among MLB starters at 1.55. The Braves also lead the NL in that category with superb starters and relievers to boot.
Place: Fourth, NL West
After a couple of weeks, it didn't look like there was a better team than the Rockies.
It seems they've hit a wall recently, but we all know how Colorado is capable of playing.
The NL West figures to remain wide open for the rest of the season, as it usually is up until the last week, but the Rockies were picked as the preseason favorites for a reason, and unless there are some catastrophic injuries, that's likely how it will still play out.
With 13 games in 13 days against the Giants, Padres, and Dodgers, look for the Rockies to get back into the swing of things, pending broken slumps by Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez.
Place: Third, NL Central
Even though they're only a game over .500, you've got to give the benefit of the doubt to the reigning NL Central champs.
Joey Votto has gotten some nice help from the young Jay Bruce, and Brandon Phillips is contributing the way he always does in the hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park.
The main area of concern is starting pitching, as Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez can't seem to both stay healthy. The result of that is a rotation featuring no pitcher with more than four wins.
The Reds' throwers will need to stay healthy if they want to make another run to the postseason.
Place: First, AL Central
Some believe Cleveland's season is a bit of smoke and mirrors so far because the AL Central looks to be the worst division, with the Indians being the only team currently over .500.
They didn't really add anybody significant, and coming off of two straight downright bad seasons, people are skeptical as to whether the Indians will hang around all year.
The good news is that so far, they look completely balanced. There isn't anything they've done poorly, and as long as they keep beating teams within the division, they have a serious chance of making the playoffs.
Place: Second, NL East
It's really encouraging when the best player on your team is struggling at the plate, and the rest of the team is able to pick up his slack.
Hanley Ramirez hasn't played at his All-Star level so far, but unsuspecting young studs like Mike Stanton, Logan Morrison, and Gaby Sanchez have been able to carry the Marlins to one of the best records in baseball so far.
They currently boast the best road record in the bigs, and it's been able to keep them right on the heels of the Phillies to this point. This is an exciting team which appears to be for real, and it will be interesting to see if they have enough to challenge the Phillies for the NL East crown.
Place: Third, AL East
The Rays looked absolutely lost to start the season, but after an 0-6 start, they finished April strong.
After an early playoff exit last year, there's nothing more the Rays would like than to get another chance to make it back to the World Series.
They are a very well-balanced club and the pieces look to be in place for another big year.
Place: First, NL Central
There might not be a better heart of the batting order than the trio in St. Louis. Pujols, Holliday, and Berkman have fueled the Cardinals offense, and they lead the majors in batting average and runs scored.
Even with Adam Wainwright lost for the season, it looks pretty clear that the Cardinals have enough talent to be World Series contenders.
Place: Second, NL West
Everybody talks about the Phillies' starting rotation, but the Giants were the best last year, and until they are dethroned, they're still the champs.
With a nearly invisible offense, the Giants proved pitching can win championships, and after hitting a rough patch, the starters are finally comfortable after shaking off a little World Series hangover.
As long as the starters continue to throw well, they can carry the weak offense and run away with the NL West.
Place: First, AL East
Is it any surprise the Yankees lead the majors in home runs by a huge margin so far?
It may be a surprise that Curtis Granderson is first on the team and second in the majors in long balls, but he's taking full advantage of the short porch in right field.
The only problem is that it seems like that's all the Yankees can do. With only a .253 team batting average so far, they haven't been able to do the little things to get runs in.
If they can begin to execute better, there's no reason they can't be the best team in baseball.
Place: First, AL West
The Rangers are stacked.
Even with injuries to Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz, the reigning American League champs have managed to be one of the most powerful offenses in the majors. Now that they're back to full strength, the Rangers are liable to go on a tear.
With the offense as good as it is, it's up to the pitching to get them back to the World Series. They look tough to beat right now.
Place: First, NL East
The scariest thing about the Phillies is that their offense hasn't even kicked into gear yet, and they still have the most wins in the majors.
Before the season, many experts anointed the Phillies' starting rotation as one of the best ever, and it's really hard to argue with their production so far.
It's almost not fair to the rest of the National League that Philly has been able to accumulate four aces over the past two seasons.
Once their lineup is completely healthy, the Phillies are going to be tough to beat.
Place: Second, AL East
After a surprisingly slow start, things are starting to click for the Red Sox, but even if they weren't, they could still be ranked No. 1 based on potential alone.
Their pitching hasn't been the best so far, but they possess arguably the most vicious lineup in Major League Baseball.
Adrian Gonzalez is doing exactly what they brought him in for: raking. If it weren't for Jose Bautista, he would look like the early-season MVP.
After sweeping the Yankees a week ago, being swept by the White Sox themselves definitely acted as a speed bump, but everyone knows the damage this team can do.