MLB Power Rankings: Where All 30 Teams Stand at the Start of May

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistMay 1, 2017

MLB Power Rankings: Where All 30 Teams Stand at the Start of May

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    The first month of the 2017 MLB season was memorable, to say the least.

    As is the case with any new season, we've had our fair share of surprises and disappointments, both on individual and team levels.

    Eric Thames and Aaron Judge have announced themselves as sluggers to be reckoned with, Dallas Keuchel is back to Cy Young form and up-and-coming starters Dylan Bundy and James Paxton are posting breakout seasons.

    The Toronto Blue Jays and San Francisco Giants have been the clear disappointments on the team side of things, while the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies are set to make the NL West an exciting battle.

    It's time for an updated look at where all 30 teams stand.

    As always, this is a fluid process as teams rise and fall based on where they ranked the previous week. If a team keeps winning, it will keep climbing—it's as simple as that.

30. Kansas City Royals (7-16, Previous: 25)

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    Mike Moustakas
    Mike MoustakasCharlie Riedel/Associated Press

    The Good

    Mike Moustakas (.271 BA, .856 OPS, 7 HR) is off to a nice start and is shaping up as a valuable trade chip after missing the bulk of last season with a torn ACL.

    The same goes for veteran starter Jason Vargas (4 GS, 3-1, 1.40 ERA, 0.90 WHIP), who made just 12 combined starts in 2015 and 2016 while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He's in the final year of a four-year, $32 million deal, and his 1.55 FIP and AL-best 0.7 BB/9 are promising indicators that his hot start is no fluke.

    The Bad

    Pretty much everything outside of those two individual performances and a few others.

    The Royals have an MLB-worst minus-37 run differential through the first month, and a completely anemic offense is largely to blame.

    They're last in the majors in batting average (.210), OPS (.605) and runs per game (2.74), and the pitching staff hasn't been anywhere near good enough (4.19 ERA, 18th in MLB) to make up the difference.

    Outlook

    Get ready for a major summer fire sale, folks.

29. Toronto Blue Jays (8-17, Previous: 26)

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    Marco Estrada
    Marco EstradaGene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    The Good

    Hmm...let's see.

    The Toronto Blue Jays are 6-6 since starting the season 2-11, and they finally picked up their first series win of the season over the weekend when they took two of three from the Tampa Bay Rays.

    At least things haven't gotten worse over the past week.

    The Bad

    The offseason departure of Edwin Encarnacion and the injury to Josh Donaldson (calf strain) have left the Blue Jays with one of the worst offenses in baseball.

    They're hitting just .228 with a .645 OPS, and their 3.56 runs per game top only the Royals (2.74) and Giants (3.35).

    Meanwhile, the bullpen has blown eight saves in 14 chances while posting a 4.70 ERA over 90 innings of work—the second-highest total of any AL relief corps—and what was the AL's best starting rotation a year ago hasn't been nearly as effective.

    The icing on the cake: Aaron Sanchez made it just one inning in his return from a blister before exiting his start Sunday with a split fingernail.

    Outlook

    Sanchez, Marcus Stroman and Roberto Osuna are probably off-limits in trade talks, but everyone else could be headed for the trade block. That includes Donaldson, provided he can get healthy.

28. San Francisco Giants (9-17, Previous: 24)

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    Matt Cain
    Matt CainJeff Chiu/Associated Press

    The Good

    Oft-injured veteran Matt Cain (5 GS, 2-0, 2.30 ERA, 1.17 WHIP) has been the San Francisco Giants' best starter.

    That may belong in the "bad" category, as it's more an indictment of the rest of the rotation than a point of pride.

    Hard-throwing reliever Hunter Strickland (12 G, 10.0 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 11 K) has been a bright spot out of the bullpen, and a healthy Joe Panik (.301 BA, 12 R) once again looks like one of the better contact hitters in the league.

    The Bad

    Johnny Cueto (5.10 ERA) and Jeff Samardzija (6.32 ERA) have been hit hard, but the big blow came when ace Madison Bumgarner suffered a shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident that will likely keep him sidelined until after the All-Star break.

    The bullpen is a mess once again with a 5.04 ERA and five blown saves in 10 chances—two of which have come from $62 million man Mark Melancon, who was supposed to bring stability to the pen.

    The offense isn't picking up the slack, as it's last in the NL in OPS (.631), home runs (16), runs per game (3.35) and run differential (-33).

    Outlook

    The Giants had the on-paper talent and the hefty payroll to be considered a contender at the start of the season, but they have an uphill battle ahead to dig out of this hole.

27. San Diego Padres (11-16, Previous: 30)

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    Wil Myers
    Wil MyersRoss D. Franklin/Associated Press

    The Good

    Wil Myers (.310 BA, .918 OPS, 7 HR, 20 RBI) is backing up last year's breakout performance and making his franchise-record six-year, $83 million extension look like a good idea for the rebuilding club.

    Someone is going to give up a ton to acquire lefty reliever Brad Hand (12 G, 13.0 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 15 K) if the team makes him available. He posted a 2.92 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 111 strikeouts in 89.1 innings over an NL-high 82 appearances last season.

    Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe and Austin Hedges have all shown flashes of developing into the type of cornerstone players the Padres hope they'll become, though all three still have work to do.

    The Bad

    While they're off to a better start than most expected, this is still not a good Padres team by any stretch of the imagination.

    Their minus-31 run differential is a good indication of that. Outside of Myers and Hand, they've gotten below-average individual performances across the board.

    The pitching staff has an NL-worst 4.64 ERA, and the offense is hitting .223 with a .665 OPS while averaging 3.78 runs per game.

    Outlook

    There's still a very real chance this team loses 100-plus games this season. For now, the Padres can hang their hat on not finishing the first month of the season in the NL West cellar.

26. Oakland Athletics (11-14, Previous: 22)

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    Khris Davis
    Khris DavisJae C. Hong/Associated Press

    The Good

    Despite being without ace Sonny Gray and now Sean Manaea, the Oakland starting rotation has been a strength.

    The unheralded trio of Andrew Triggs (5 GS, 4-1, 1.84 ERA), Jesse Hahn (4 GS, 1-2, 2.08 ERA) and Kendall Graveman (4 GS, 2-1, 2.25 ERA) has led the way, and the starting staff as a whole is tied for second in the majors with a 1.18 WHIP.

    Offensively, Khris Davis (1.032 OPS, 10 HR) has picked up right where he left off last season, and first baseman Yonder Alonso (.279 BA, .870 OPS, 4 HR, 14 RBI) is well on his way to the most productive season of his career.

    The Bad

    With a .229 average and .697 OPS as a team, the A's have had trouble scoring runs to the tune of just 3.64 per game. That's led to a minus-26 run differential.

    With a 1-6 showing in their last seven games, they're clearly trending in the wrong direction.

    Losing shortstop Marcus Semien to a fractured hand was a big blow, and Gray has yet to make his 2017 debut. He'll do that Tuesday against the Minnesota Twins, per Richard Dean of MLB.com, but he has a long way to go to return to his 2015 form.

    Outlook

    The A's looked like the one clear non-contender in the AL West when the season began, and that hasn't changed after a month.

25. Atlanta Braves (10-13, Previous: 29)

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    Freddie Freeman and Matt Kemp
    Freddie Freeman and Matt KempJohn Bazemore/Associated Press

    The Good

    After finishing 29th in the majors in runs scored a year ago, the Atlanta Braves are making considerably more noise at the plate.

    Freddie Freeman (.381 BA, 1.283 OPS, 9 HR) and Matt Kemp (.321 BA, 1.077 OPS, 6 HR) have been as productive as any one-two punch in baseball, and veterans Brandon Phillips (.355 BA) and Nick Markakis (.310 BA) are also hitting well.

    They rank sixth in team batting average (.263) and 10th in runs per game (4.52).

    Mike Foltynewicz (2.81 ERA, 23/9 K/BB, 25.2 IP) has been the team's best starter, and his continued development is a major X-factor as far as the club's long-term outlook is concerned.

    The Bad

    Rookie shortstop Dansby Swanson is off to a brutal start (.156 BA, .433 OPS). He's perhaps the most important player on the team considering what he means to the rebuild.

    The starting rotation has been middle-of-the-pack so far, and that looked like the one area that could propel Atlanta to an unexpectedly productive season if it emerged as a strength. So far, that hasn't happened.

    Meanwhile, the relief corps is still searching for consistency and sorely misses hard-throwing Mauricio Cabrera, who is dealing with a sore elbow.

    Outlook

    Better than last year's 93-loss club? No question. Headed for a winning record? Probably not.

24. Cincinnati Reds (11-13, Previous: 18)

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    Eugenio Suarez
    Eugenio SuarezJohn Minchillo/Associated Press

    The Good

    Production from the left side of the infield of Zack Cozart (.352/.447/.606) and Eugenio Suarez (1.025 OPS, 5 HR) has been one of the highlights of the season so far for the Cincinnati Reds.

    Joey Votto (.914 OPS, 8 HR) has avoided another slow start and is showing nice pop so far this year, while the speedy duo of Jose Peraza and Billy Hamilton have combined for 17 stolen bases and 20 runs scored.

    Drew Storen (11 G, 2 HLD, 0.75 ERA, 10.5 K/9) looks like a great scrapheap find in the bullpen, and the former closer could be a valuable trade chip come July if he keeps it up.

    The Bad

    After a 7-2 start, the Reds are 4-11 in their last 15 games with a minus-19 run differential during that span.

    The starting rotation ranks last in the majors with a 5.96 ERA and 1.54 WHIP as things have come crashing down after a strong start from the largely inexperienced staff.

    Hamilton (.265 OBP) and Peraza (.257 OBP) have to find a way to get on base more to truly be weapons. The starting rotation needs to find five guys capable of consistently going six innings before they run the bullpen—which has thrown an MLB-high 102.1 innings already—into the ground.

    Outlook

    Until the Reds get the starting rotation sorted out, this is clearly the worst team in the NL Central.

23. Tampa Bay Rays (12-14, Previous: 21)

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    Steven Souza Jr.
    Steven Souza Jr.Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    The Good

    The Tampa Bay Rays roll into May with a plus-two run differential despite dropping a pair of series last week to the Orioles and Blue Jays.

    The offense is averaging a solid 4.27 runs per game behind impressive starts from Steven Souza Jr. (.330 BA, .954 OPS, 4 HR) and Corey Dickerson (.330 BA, 1.015 OPS, 6 HR), among others.

    On the pitching side, a 3.68 team ERA is good for sixth in the majors, and they've been dominant at home with a 9-4 record and plus-17 run differential at Tropicana Field.

    The Bad

    The Rays have been built on strong starting pitching over the years, so the fact that they're tied for last in the majors with just seven quality starts is an issue.

    While that 3.68 team ERA is nice, it's accompanied by a 1.30 WHIP. That level of success isn't sustainable when you're allowing so many baserunners.

    Chris Archer and Blake Snell have been decent, but they haven't given any indication that the return to ace form and breakout season, respectively, that many were hoping for are in the works.

    Outlook

    The Rays won't lose 94 games again, and they'll be a thorn in the side of more than a few AL clubs this season, but they don't look like contenders either.

22. Pittsburgh Pirates (11-13, Previous: 15)

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    Ivan Nova
    Ivan NovaGene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    The Good

    Ivan Nova (5 GS, 3-2, 1.50 ERA, 0.75 WHIP) has proved his strong showing down the stretch last year was the real deal. His three-year, $26 million deal looks like one of the steals of the offseason.

    Young right-hander Jameson Taillon (5 GS, 2-0, 2.08 ERA) has joined him as a front-line option, and Gerrit Cole (5 GS, 1-3, 3.60 ERA) has shown signs of returning to ace form.

    In the bullpen, Felipe Rivero (15 G, 7 HLD, 0.61 ERA) and Tony Watson (9 G, 7/7 SV, 0.96 ERA) might be the best lefty relief duo in the game right now.

    The Bad

    Losing arguably the best player on the team in Starling Marte to an 80-game PED suspension was a huge loss for Pittsburgh and one it might not be able to overcome.

    Korean slugger Jung Ho Kang is also M.I.A. as he continues to deal with visa issues stemming from his offseason DUI arrest.

    That has left the Pirates with a largely punchless offense. They're currently averaging just 3.75 runs per game.

    On the pitching side, Tyler Glasnow (4 GS, 0-1, 7.98 ERA) has not been the impact starter the team was hoping for, and offseason addition Daniel Hudson (12 G, 9.90 ERA) has been hit hard, though he is tied for the team lead with seven holds.

    Outlook

    The Cubs, Cardinals and Brewers all look like better teams in the NL Central, and it could be another long year of non-contention in Pittsburgh.

21. Miami Marlins (11-12, Previous: 17)

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    Marcell Ozuna
    Marcell OzunaLynne Sladky/Associated Press

    The Good

    The Miami Marlins are scoring plenty of runs (4.52 per game), and as expected the bullpen has been a strength (3.35 ERA, ninth in MLB).

    Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna are once again pacing the offensive attack and might be the best outfield trio this side of Boston.

    Catcher J.T. Realmuto was pegged by some as a regression candidate after hitting .303 last season, but he's backed it up so far with a terrific .342/.383/.474 line.

    The Bad

    While the bullpen has been strong, the starting rotation has been just as weak as expected, if not worse.

    They're tied for last in the majors with just seven quality starts and lead only the Reds in ERA (5.01) and innings pitched (115.0). No starter has an ERA under 4.00.

    With limited rotation depth, they're essentially stuck with their current group of starters. Jeff Locke will be back healthy at some point, and Justin Nicolino is pitching in Triple-A, but neither profiles as much of an upgrade.

    Outlook

    Building up the bullpen to support the rotation was a flawed offseason strategy. At this point, it's hard to imagine the Marlins will contend with such a weak rotation.

20. Philadelphia Phillies (11-12, Previous: 20)

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    Jeremy Hellickson
    Jeremy HellicksonGary Landers/Associated Press

    The Good

    The Philadelphia Phillies rattled off a six-game winning streak last week before getting swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers over the weekend.

    Those kinds of high highs and low lows will likely be a trend this season as the young club begins the upswing toward contention after several years of rebuilding.

    Cesar Hernandez (.323 BA, .906 OPS, 10 XBH) has been the offensive standout, while veterans Jeremy Hellickson (5 GS, 4-0, 1.80 ERA) and Pat Neshek (9 G, 4 HLD, 0.00 ERA, 7.2 IP) are both off to terrific starts on the mound.

    The Bad

    Maikel Franco (.213 BA, .655 OPS) and Tommy Joseph (.179 BA, .476 OPS) are off to rough starts after ranking as the team's two biggest power threats a year ago.

    Franco is particular is concerning as he's long been viewed as a franchise cornerstone-type piece and needs to start showing signs of improvement.

    Losing reclamation project Clay Buchholz to a torn flexor tendon in his forearm was unfortunate as that dashed any hopes he'd be this year's version of Hellickson. The bullpen has also been unstable, to say the least, as four different pitchers have seen multiple save chances.

    Outlook

    They're not there yet, but the Phillies are headed in the right direction. Expect to see a wave of young talent arrive around midseason that will provide further hope for the future.

19. New York Mets (10-14, Previous: 11)

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    Jacob deGrom
    Jacob deGromNick Wass/Associated Press

    The Good

    It's no secret where the strengths and weaknesses of this year's New York Mets lie.

    After an offseason that saw them re-sign a number of key players but fail to make a significant outside addition, they're left to once again rely on a stacked starting rotation to overcome a below-average offensive attack while remaining susceptible to injuries due to a lack of depth.

    Michael Conforto (.321 BA, 1.055 OPS, 6 HR) and Jay Bruce (.954 OPS, 7 HR) are off to great starts offensively, and Jacob deGrom (5 GS, 1-1, 2.84 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 44 K, 31.2 IP) again looks like a Cy Young candidate.

    The Bad

    It doesn't get much worse than what the Mets endured last week.

    Noah Syndergaard was scratched from his Thursday start with biceps and shoulder discomfort, refused an MRI and then had to be lifted from his Sunday start with what has now been deemed a partially torn lat.

    Matt Harvey took the ball in place of Syndergaard on Thursday, was shelled and then claimed he "wasn't physically prepared" to start.

    In that same Thursday game, Yoenis Cespedes suffered a hamstring strain and landed on the 10-day disabled list.

    Outlook

    At this point, the Mets are in free fall, and it wouldn't be surprising to see them in the bottom third of these rankings in the near future.

18. Texas Rangers (11-14, Previous: 16)

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    Yu Darvish
    Yu DarvishTony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    The Good

    The Texas Rangers are 6-4 in their last 10 games after stumbling out of the gates to a 5-10 start.

    Led by Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels, the starting rotation ranks first in the AL and third in the majors with a 3.37 ERA, and they're still awaiting the return of Tyson Ross from thoracic outlet surgery.

    The offense has been well-balanced with eight different players who've tallied at least three home runs. That's added up to a solid 4.56 runs per game en route to a plus-eight run differential on the year.

    The Bad

    While the starting rotation has been a clear strength, the bullpen was an absolute disaster in the early going and still sits 22nd in the majors with a 4.85 ERA while recording two saves in seven chances.

    They've scored plenty of runs, but the team is hitting just .220 with a .689 OPS while piling up the strikeouts thanks to Joey Gallo (32 K, 94 PA) and Mike Napoli (30 K, 99 PA).

    After losing series to the Twins and Angels at home last week, the Rangers now head out for a 10-game road trip that could serve as an early turning point in their season.

    Outlook

    It's safe to say the Rangers are no longer the favorites in the AL West, but they still have enough talent to contend for a playoff spot.

17. Seattle Mariners (11-15, Previous: 14)

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    James Paxton
    James PaxtonElaine Thompson/Associated Press

    The Good

    All the prognosticators who were calling for a breakout season from Seattle Mariners left-hander James Paxton, go ahead and take a bow.

    The 28-year-old is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 0.84 WHIP and 39 strikeouts in 32.1 innings, and he's lighting up the radar gun with a 96.4 mph average fastball velocity backed by a lethal curveball-cutter pairing, per Brooks Baseball.

    The Mariners offense is scoring plenty of runs (4.58 per game), and rookies Mitch Haniger and Taylor Motter have been among the most surprising early standouts.

    The Bad

    Aside from Paxton, the pitching staff has been a mess.

    They currently rank 29th in team ERA (4.71) and bullpen ERA (5.80), and the starting rotation has only managed six quality starts in the 21 games not started by Paxton.

    Felix Hernandez (shoulder inflammation) and Haniger (strained oblique) both landed on the disabled list last week, and offseason addition Drew Smyly (flexor strain) has yet to make his Mariners debut, so injuries have also been an issue in the early going.

    Outlook

    The Mariners are capable of more than they've shown so far this season. If they can get the rotation healthy and the bullpen sorted out, they still have a chance to contend for a postseason spot.

16. Minnesota Twins (12-11, Previous: 27)

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    Ervin Santana
    Ervin SantanaJim Mone/Associated Press

    The Good

    The Minnesota Twins rushed out to a 5-1 start this season and turned in a 4-1 showing last week that helped them to a winning record and a plus-four run differential over the first month of the season.

    Ervin Santana (5 GS, 4-0, 0.77 ERA, 0.66 WHIP) has been as good as any starter in baseball. He's shaping up to be a major trade chip if the Twins decide to move him this summer.

    Closer Brandon Kintzler (7/7 SV, 0.79 ERA) has been a rock in an otherwise shaky bullpen, while Miguel Sano (.316/.443/.684, 6 2B, 7 HR, 25 RBI) is breaking out in a big way to lead an offense that has plated a respectable 4.39 runs per game.

    The Bad

    While Santana has been a stud, three of the team's five starters have an ERA over 5.00, and Kyle Gibson (5 GS, 0-3, 8.06 ERA, .326 BAA) has been among the worst starters in the league.

    Sano looks to be turning in the breakout season everyone was hoping for, but the same can't be said for Byron Buxton, who is hitting a dismal .147/.256/.176 with 29 strikeouts in 78 plate appearances.

    Slugger Brian Dozier is also off to a slow start (.242 BA, .679 OPS, 2 HR) and it's only a matter of time before people start questioning whether the team made a mistake not selling high on him this winter.

    Outlook

    The Twins climbed several spots this week thanks in large part to other teams' drops. Given the struggles of their starting rotation as a wholean issue that plagued them last year as wellit's hard to view them as a serious threat to contend.

15. Los Angeles Angels (14-13, Previous: 28)

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    Mike Trout
    Mike TroutCharlie Riedel/Associated Press

    The Good

    That's the beauty of early-season baseball—a team like the Los Angeles Angels can climb 13 spots in these rankings thanks to a 6-1 week.

    In case anyone was wondering, Mike Trout is still really good. The superstar center fielder is hitting .364/.443/.707 with 18 extra-base hits and five stolen bases and has already been good for 2.1 WAR.

    A healthy Tyler Skaggs (5 GS, 1-1, 3.99 ERA, 29 K, 29.1 IP) has shown some upside, and veteran Bud Norris (13 GS, 5/6 SV, 2.57 ERA, 12.2 K/9) has emerged as the unlikeliest of closers.

    The Bad

    Outside of Trout, the offense has been mediocre at best once again.

    They're averaging 3.67 runs per game, and Andrelton Simmons (.284 BA, .758 OPS) is the only other regular hitting over .260.

    The pitching staff as a whole has been better than expected with a 3.95 ERA that ranks 11th in the majors, but with Garrett Richards (strained biceps) once again set to miss significant time and Skaggs (strained oblique) recently landing on the disabled list, it's unlikely the rotation holds up going forward.

    Outlook

    This is a better Angels team than we saw a year ago. Slow starts from the Mariners and Rangers put them in a better position, but they still look like a fringe contender at best.

14. Milwaukee Brewers (13-13, Previous: 19)

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    Eric Thames
    Eric ThamesMorry Gash/Associated Press

    The Good

    Eric Thames (.345 BA, 1.276 OPS, 11 HR) has been the biggest story in baseball over the first month of the season. He's helped the Milwaukee Brewers to a .500 record and plus-seven run differential.

    He's far from the only one doing damage in a lineup that has averaged an impressive 5.19 runs per game, as Ryan Braun (.960 OPS, 7 HR) and Travis Shaw (.832 OPS, 5 HR) have also swung a big stick.

    Chase Anderson (5 GS, 2-0, 2.10 ERA) has kept things rolling after winning the No. 5 spot in the rotation this spring, and the bullpen has been better than expected with a 4.10 ERA after trading away Jeremy Jeffress, Will Smith and Tyler Thornburg.

    The Bad

    While Anderson has been a nice surprise, the rotation as a whole has struggled to a 4.66 ERA. The trio of Wily Peralta (5.19 ERA), Jimmy Nelson (5.34 ERA) and Zach Davies (6.57 ERA) has been hit hard, and 2016 standout Junior Guerra has made just one start while dealing with a calf strain.

    Speaking of 2016 standouts, speedster Jonathan Villar has regressed big time with a .206 average and 37 strikeouts in 116 plate appearances.

    Keon Broxton (.191 BA) is also off to a disappointing start and could soon be overtaken by top prospect Lewis Brinson in center field.

    Outlook

    The Brewers have essentially been the Midwest version of the Rockies so far, hoping to outslug their opponents each game. If we've learned anything from the Rockies over the years, that isn't a recipe for sustainable success.

13. Detroit Tigers (12-12, Previous: 12)

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    Justin Upton
    Justin UptonJim Mone/Associated Press

    The Good

    While J.D. Martinez missed the entire first month and Miguel Cabrera missed the last week, the Detroit Tigers managed to close out April with a .500 record.

    Their offense was largely to thankeven as those two missed timeas they scored 4.92 runs per game and slugged 30 home runs in 24 games.

    Justin Upton (.968 OPS, 5 HR) has shouldered the load offensively, while the young duo of Michael Fulmer (5 GS, 2-1, 3.19 ERA) and Matt Boyd (5 GS, 2-1, 3.86 ERA) has led the rotation and lefty Justin Wilson (12 G, 10.2 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 17 K) has been a standout in the bullpen.

    The Bad

    The fact the Tigers have played .500 baseball to this point is nothing short of a miracle.

    They enter the week with a minus-15 run differential and the worst team ERA (5.19) and bullpen ERA (6.43) in baseball.

    Anibal Sanchez (14.2 IP, 26 H, 16 ER) is a $16.8 million batting practice pitcher, and Jordan Zimmermann (6.18 ERA, 1.63 WHIP) has shown no signs of righting the ship after a rough first season in Detroit.

    Outlook

    They're finding ways to win games, but there might be just as good a chance the Tigers finish fourth in the AL Central as there is they secure a playoff spot.

12. Chicago White Sox (13-10, Previous: 23)

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    Avisail Garcia
    Avisail GarciaCarlos Osorio/Associated Press

    The Good

    After a 7-9 start, the supposedly rebuilding Chicago White Sox ripped off a six-game winning streak before failing to sweep the Tigers on Sunday.

    Who would have guessed after trading Chris Sale in the offseason that it would be the White Sox who lead the majors with a 3.11 ERA heading into May?

    Derek Holland (5 GS, 2-2, 2.17 ERA) and Miguel Gonzalez (5 GS, 3-1, 3.27 ERA) have both thrown the exceptionally well, while offseason non-tender candidate Avisail Garcia (.368/.409/.621, 5 HR, 20 RBI) is rewarding the team for giving him one last chance.

    The Bad

    Props to the White Sox for a better first month than anyone could have anticipated, but this is still a team in the early stages of rebuilding with an eye on the future.

    A slow start from Jose Quintana (5 GS, 1-4, 5.22 ERA) is troubling as he's far and away the team's most valuable trade chip.

    Todd Frazier (.183 BA) is also scuffling badly at the plate in a contract year. He'll need to pick it up if the team hopes to get max value for him this summer.

    Outlook

    By all means, enjoy this early surge, White Sox fans. But don't lose sight of the big picture when things inevitably level off.

11. St. Louis Cardinals (12-12, Previous: 13)

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    Mike Leake
    Mike LeakeManuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press

    The Good

    Since starting the season 3-9, the St. Louis Cardinals have been playing as well as any team in baseball at 9-3 in their past 12 games with a plus-15 run differential.

    Mike Leake (5 GS, 3-1, 1.35 ERA), Lance Lynn (5 GS, 3-1, 2.45 ERA) and Michael Wacha (4 GS, 2-1, 2.55 ERA) have quietly been an excellent starting pitching trio, and the return of Trevor Rosenthal has helped solidify what was a shaky relief corps.

    After scoring just 42 runs in their first 12 games, the Cardinals have tallied 57 in their last 12, and catalyst Dexter Fowler caught fire last week with a 10-for-23 showing at the plate.

    The Bad

    While Rosenthal has been a big addition, the bullpen is still anything but a strength. Kevin Siegrist and Jonathan Broxton have both been hit hard, and Matt Bowman has hit a rough patch after a terrific start.

    Carlos Martinez (5 GS, 0-3, 4.71 ERA) is struggling to live up to his billing as the staff ace, and former ace Adam Wainwright (5 GS, 2-3, 6.12 ERA) has seemingly continued his late-career decline.

    Aledmys Diaz (.217 BA, .625 OPS) is also raising some question whether he's capable of repeating his impressive rookie numbers, and with Jhonny Peralta hurt the team doesn't have the same infield depth it did at the start of the year.

    Outlook

    There are holes, but the Cardinals look like wild-card contenders at the very least once again. Will the Leake-Lynn-Wacha trio regress before the Martinez-Wainwright duo picks up the pace?

10. Arizona Diamondbacks (16-11, Previous: 9)

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    Paul Goldschmidt
    Paul GoldschmidtRoss D. Franklin/Associated Press

    The Good

    With A.J. Pollock and David Peralta's return to health and no way the starting rotation could be as bad as it was a year ago, the Arizona Diamondbacks were a popular pick as a dark-horse contender.

    They've been just that en route to a plus-29 run differential.

    The offense ranks second in the majors at 5.22 runs per game, and they've gotten contributions from up and down the lineup. Paul Goldschmidt, Jake Lamb, Yasmany Tomas and Chris Owings all have at least 19 RBI, while Peralta (.326 BA) and Pollock (.324 BA) are tops on the team in batting average.

    The starting rotation has been rock solid as well with a 3.34 ERA that ranks second in the majors, and a healthy Patrick Corbin (6 GS, 2-3, 2.29 ERA) looks like a real X-factor. The same goes for former top prospect Archie Bradley (8 G, 4 HLD, 1.13 ERA, 19 K, 16.0 IP), who has emerged as a major weapon in the bullpen.

    The Bad

    Does anyone really think Fernando Rodney is going to finish the season as the D-backs closer?

    The 40-year-old is 6-of-8 on save chances so far with a bloated 12.60 ERA. Why the front office thought he could hold down the job to begin with remains a mystery. The trouble is, there's no obvious replacement, although Bradley could be an option.

    The bullpen as a whole has a 4.72 ERA and looks like the clear weakness.

    The other area of concern is a thin farm system that doesn't figure to offer much in the way of reinforcements or potential trade chips should a need arise leading up to the deadline.

    Outlook

    As the Giants scuffle and the Rockies level off a bit, the Diamondbacks might be the biggest challengers to the Dodgers for NL West supremacy.

9. Colorado Rockies (16-10, Previous: 6)

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    Greg Holland
    Greg HollandDavid Zalubowski/Associated Press

    The Good

    As always, it comes down to whether or not the Colorado Rockies will have enough pitching to contend. For the first time in years, the answer might be yes.

    Even with presumptive ace Jon Gray off to a slow start and dealing with a toe injury, they've posted a respectable 4.76 starter's ERA, and it's a pair of rookies in Antonio Senzatela (5 GS, 3-1, 2.81 ERA) and Kyle Freeland (5 GS, 3-1, 2.93 ERA) who lead the way.

    The bullpen has also been vastly improved behind new closer Greg Holland (11/11 SV, 1.50 ERA), trimming its ERA as a group from an MLB-worst 5.13 a year ago to a more manageable 4.28.

    Offensively, Mark Reynolds (.968 OPS, 8 HR, 23 RBI) has made the team rethink planting Ian Desmond at first base, as the big offseason addition will likely head to the outfield now that he's finally healthy.

    The Bad

    Disappointing stars from rookie standouts Trevor Story (.178 BA, 39 K) and Tyler Anderson (6 GS, 1-3, 7.71 ERA) are concerns both in the short- and long-term outlook of the team.

    Getting Gray healthy and pitching like the ace everyone expected him to be after a breakout season of sorts will be key to keeping this team in contention.

    Avoiding further injury will also be important as they were bitten hard by the injury bug this spring.

    Outlook

    The Rockies are a team to watch if their young pitching holds up. They've earned their spot in the top 10.

8. Los Angeles Dodgers (14-12, Previous: 10)

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    Justin Turner
    Justin TurnerMark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    The Good

    The Los Angeles Dodgers enter the week riding a four-game winning streak and set to take on a scuffling rival in the Giants.

    Justin Turner has been one of the league's best hitters thus far with a .404/.465/.562 line and 11 doubles, while there's been no sophomore slump for Corey Seager (.319 BA, .961 OPS, 5 HR).

    The starting rotation has looked strong aside from a struggling Kenta Maeda, and they finally pulled the trigger on calling up Julio Urias after starting him out in the minors in an effort to limit his innings. It's the bullpen that ranks as perhaps the biggest surprise, though, as the relief corps sits ninth in the majors with a 3.21 ERA.

    The Bad

    Turner and Seager have been great, but the offense as a whole has not.

    Adrian Gonzalez is still looking for his first home run, Yasiel Puig has gone ice cold after a torrid start and top prospect Cody Bellinger has already been promoted in an effort to kick-start things.

    They also continue to struggle against left-handed pitching with a .647 OPS on the year after posting an MLB-worst .623 OPS against southpaws a year ago.

    Outlook

    The Dodgers' pitching should be enough to keep them in the hunt for another NL West title, even if the offense continues to sputter. The division as a whole figures to be a lot tougher this year, though.

7. Baltimore Orioles (15-8, Previous: 4)

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    Dylan Bundy
    Dylan BundyPatrick Semansky/Associated Press

    The Good

    The Baltimore Orioles offense should once again be a strength, and so far they've slugged 30 home runs and averaged 4.39 runs per game.

    Dylan Bundy (5 GS, 3-1, 1.65 ERA) has looked like a front-line starter, and veteran Wade Miley (5 GS, 1-1, 2.32 ERA) has been a pleasant surprise. The rotation as a whole has compiled a 4.26 ERA as Chris Tillman watches from the sidelines.

    The bullpen still features the foursome of Zach Britton, Brad Brach, Darren O'Day and Mychal Givens, so it should have no trouble closing out games.

    The Bad

    Their 15-8 start this season is accompanied by a plus-one run differential, so they've exceeded expectations a bit in that area.

    Ubaldo Jimenez (5 GS, 7.43 ERA) and Kevin Gausman (6 GS, 7.50 ERA) have essentially canceled out the strong starts from Bundy and Miley, and the long-term health of Tillman remains a concern as he's been dealing with a bum right shoulder since late last season.

    Mark Trumbo (.202 BA, .548 OPS, 2 HR) is also off to a sluggish start. For a team that is so heavily reliant on offensive firepower, Baltimore needs him slugging at the rate he did a year ago.

    Outlook

    The Orioles are contenders, but they're probably not as good as their early record indicates, and the continued inconsistency of the starting rotation is a clear concern.

6. Cleveland Indians (14-10, Previous: 7)

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    Francisco Lindor
    Francisco LindorTony Dejak/Associated Press

    The Good

    The Cleveland Indians picked up a pair of quality series wins over the Mariners and Astros last week as they climbed back toward their Opening Day placement at No. 2 in these rankings.

    Similar to what we saw with Mookie Betts a year ago, budding superstar Francisco Lindor has added pop to his game, as he's already slugged seven home runs after hitting 15 all of last year.

    The offense is scoring runs despite slow starts from Carlos Santana (.224 BA, .695 OPS, 2 HR) and Edwin Encarnacion (.200 BA, .696 OPS, 4 HR) and the early absence of Jason Kipnis, so it's fair to assume the best is yet to come at the plate.

    The Bad

    What in the world happened to the Indians' starting rotation?

    The starting staff ranks 28th in the majors with a 4.78 ERA, and Carlos Carrasco (5 GS, 2-2, 2.04 ERA) is the only starter with an ERA under 4.00.

    While there's no reason for concern surrounding Corey Kluber and Danny Salazar just yet, the team might need to consider making a change at the back end, where Trevor Bauer (6.26 ERA) and Josh Tomlin (8.87 ERA) have both struggled mightily.

    The bullpen has been lights out once again, and it's so deep that the rotation simply needs to pull its weight for Cleveland to live up to lofty expectations.

    Outlook

    This is a stacked team that hasn't gotten off to the start many expected. They're still the clear favorites in the AL Central and legitimate title contenders.

5. Boston Red Sox (13-11, Previous: 5)

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    Chris Sale
    Chris SalePaul Sancya/Associated Press

    The Good

    The Chris Sale trade became much more important when David Price hit the disabled list, and he's off to a brilliant start with a 1.19 ERA, 0.77 WHIP and 52 strikeouts in 37.2 innings over his first five starts.

    Rookie Andrew Benintendi (.333 BA, .870 OPS) is more than living up to the hype, and newcomer Mitch Moreland has posted an .837 OPS with an MLB-best 12 doubles. That duo has helped offset the loss of David Ortiz.

    Closer Craig Kimbrel is back to dominant form, and the new-look bullpen has been terrific with a 2.34 ERA that ranks third in the majorswithout offseason addition Tyler Thornburg, who is nursing a shoulder injury.

    The Bad

    The offense isn't struggling, but it hasn't been the force it was a year ago as it's dropped from 5.42 to 3.88 runs per game.

    That puts more pressure on the pitching staff, and the early struggles of Rick Porcello (4.75 ERA) and Steven Wright (8.25 ERA) along with the health of Price become more concerning.

    Third base is also looking like an early hole with Pablo Sandoval (.213 BA, .646 OPS) off to a slow start before suffering a knee strain.

    Outlook

    The fact that the Red Sox are two games over .500 so far when they're not anywhere close to full strength speaks to how dangerous they can be once all the pieces are in place.

4. New York Yankees (15-8, Previous: 8)

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    Aaron Judge
    Aaron JudgeChris O'Meara/Associated Press

    The Good

    Let's start with rookie slugger Aaron Judge, who wrapped up the first month of the season hitting .303/.411/.750 with 10 home runs.

    Forget AL Rookie of the Year—he's been a legitimate MVP candidate so far.

    He leads an offense that is averaging an impressive 5.57 runs per game, up from 4.20 a year ago, and the return of Didi Gregorius will only help.

    The bullpen has been dominant as expected, and the starting rotation that looked like a glaring weakness has held its own with a 3.76 ERA that ranks ninth in the majors.

    The Bad

    It's hard to poke holes in what the Yankees have accomplished so far.

    Instead, it's a question of sustainability as so many young players fill crucial roles both in the lineup and on the pitching staff.

    The Gary Sanchez injury was an unfortunate loss, but he's close to returning from the right biceps injury that has sidelined him since the team's fifth game of the season.

    Outlook

    It will all hinge on the starting pitching, but the Yankees have to be considered legitimate contenders until further notice.

3. Houston Astros (16-9, Previous: 2)

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    Dallas Keuchel
    Dallas KeuchelBen Margot/Associated Press

    The Good

    The Houston Astros' perceived lack of a staff ace was one of the biggest storylines of the offseason.

    One month into the year, Dallas Keuchel (6 GS, 5-0, 1.21 ERA, 0.81 WHIP) has looked every bit the pitcher he was during his Cy Young season in 2015, so that no longer looks like a pressing need.

    The offense is averaging 4.48 runs per game and may only be scratching the surface of what it's capable of with Carlos Beltran (.240 BA), Carlos Correa (.233 BA) and George Springer (.230 BA) all off to slow starts.

    Perhaps the biggest improvement has come in the bullpen, where the Astros rank sixth in the majors with a 2.91 ERA behind hybrid ace Chris Devenski (7 G, 1 SV, 1 HLD, 2.16 ERA, 32 K, 16.2 IP).

    The Bad

    While Keuchel has looked like an ace, the rotation as a whole remains something of a weakness.

    No other starter has an ERA under 4.00 or a WHIP under 1.30, so an eventual promotion of Francis Martes or a trade for more starting pitching depth seems likely.

    Closer Ken Giles is a perfect 6-of-6 on save chances with a 12.2 K/9 mark, but he's pitched to a 4.35 ERA and remains a bit of a wild card for a team looking to legitimately contend for a title.

    Outlook

    Slow starts from the Rangers and Mariners leave the Astros as the clear favorite in the AL West, and they have the look of a legitimate contender for the AL pennant if the rotation rounds into form.

2. Chicago Cubs (13-11, Previous: 1)

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    Kris Bryant
    Kris BryantKamil Krzaczynski/Associated Press

    The Good

    When you close out the first month of the season two games over .500 with a plus-18 run differential and it's considered a slow start, you know you've reached a new level of expectations.

    Everything the Chicago Cubs do this season will be under a microscope, and so far they still look like the most talented team in baseball and the team to beat.

    Jason Heyward (.279 BA, .747 OPS, 16 RBI) is putting together a nice bounce-back season in an already stacked lineup that is averaging 5.08 runs per game.

    Meanwhile, the bullpen has rounded into form after a shaky start, and new closer Wade Davis (11 G, 6/6 SV, 0.00 ERA, 12 K, 10.2 IP) has been an absolute stud.

    The Bad

    The starting rotation was bound to regress from the MLB-best 2.96 ERA the Cubs posted a year ago. They currently sit 23rd in the majors with a 4.28 ERA.

    Kyle Hendricks (4.18 ERA), Jake Arrieta (4.68 ERA) and John Lackey (5.10 ERA) are all off to less-than-stellar starts, and the bullpen has been a bit taxed as a result.

    Postseason hero Javier Baez (.203 BA, .601 OPS) has also failed to carry over his October magic thus far.

    Outlook

    Even with a less-than-dominant start to the season, you'd be foolish to bet against the Cubs in the NL Central. They're still every bit the title contender they were entering the year.

1. Washington Nationals (17-8, Previous: 3)

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    Ryan Zimmerman
    Ryan ZimmermanSeth Wenig/Associated Press

    The Good

    The Washington Nationals have scored double-digit runs six times this year, including a 23-run outburst against the Mets on Sunday.

    They're averaging a whopping 6.8 runs per game, and Ryan Zimmerman (29 RBI), Bryce Harper (26 RBI) and Daniel Murphy (26 RBI) wrapped up the month ranked 1-2-3 in the majors in RBI.

    Zimmerman is also tops in the majors in batting average (.420) and would be the runaway choice for NL Comeback Player of the Year honors and a serious MVP contender.

    The pitching staff hasn't been quite as good as expected with a 4.49 ERA, but Washington has still posted an MLB-best plus-48 run differential over its first 25 games.

    The Bad

    Losing prized offseason addition Adam Eaton for the season to a torn ACL is a huge blow and was enough for me to consider not bumping the Nats up to the No. 1 spot despite their stellar play.

    Then there are the looming question marks at the back of the bullpen, where Blake Treinen has already been removed from the closer's role and hard-throwing rookie Koda Glover is on the disabled list.

    It's impossible to ignore what they've been able to do offensively, but it's also unlikely they'll be able to sustain that level of scoring. At some point the pitching will need to improve.

    Outlook

    The Mets are once again piling up key injuries, the Marlins lack a starting rotation and the Phillies and Braves are still at least a year away. There's no safer bet to win a division title than the Nationals.

    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.

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