MLB Power Rankings: Contenders (Waiting for the Astros)
5. Milwaukee Brewers
4. Toronto Blue Jays
3. New York Yankees
2. Atlanta Braves
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1. The Absolutely Stupid Tampa Bay Rays
Someday, the Houston Astros will get here. For now, you go where your record sends you, though. That No. 3 spot is theirs for the taking, but we're not going to give the 2023 Astros something that the 2022 Astros earned.
The Milwaukee Brewers look entirely different than they were supposed to, thanks to an unexpected infusion of The Freshmen (rookies Joey Wiemer and Brice Turang, alongside center fielder Garrett Mitchell). If their offense and defense can match their deep pitching, and if Brandon Woodruff can stay healthy, the Cardinals are going to have to hurry up and get right to match them.
The Blue Jays and Yankees were the consensus AL East favorites entering the season, and both teams have looked like top-tier clubs in the early going. Kevin Kiermaier and Daulton Varsho have led a defensive remodel in Toronto for a team that can still hit (though they tend to make things dramatic). The Yankees won their first four series of the season for just the third time in 20 years (and their fifth series of the season is off to, uh, a rocky start). The Braves have fulfilled their destiny, and Matt Olson is en route to becoming the hometown hero he's long deserved to be.
But the Rays ... the Rays are 13-0. The Rays stared down the Red Sox, their first real challenge of 2023, and swept them, too. The Rays trailed 3-1 in the fifth inning Thursday; they promptly scored seven runs in the bottom of the frame. The Rays have eight more homers than the second-place Dodgers. They entered play on Thursday with an OPS nearly 100 points higher than the second-place team (also the Dodgers, .945 to .857). They have the lowest ERA in baseball by 0.33 runs per nine innings (over the Twins in second). They're tied for the game's lowest WHIP.
Who cares who they've played? Who cares if the only 10-0 (or better) start to win the World Series belongs to the 1955 Dodgers? In the here and now, they're kings. Now, it's incumbent upon the rest of the league to close the gap.