Which NL team has earned our No. 1 spot this week?

Which NL team has earned our No. 1 spot this week?

7:00 AM ET

Two weeks into the new MLB season, the National League has made a statement at the top of our Power Rankings.

Which of the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants and New York Mets is in the No. 1 spot on our list this week? And at the bottom of the list, did a slow start in Cincinnati move the Reds all the way down to No. 30?

Our 10-voter panel has combined to rank every team in baseball based on a combination of what we’ve seen so far and what we already knew going into the 162-game marathon that is a full baseball season. We also asked ESPN MLB experts David Schoenfield, Bradford Doolittle, Joon Lee, Jesse Rogers and Alden Gonzalez to weigh in with an early observation for all 30 teams.

Week 1 | Preseason rankings

1. Los Angeles Dodgers

Record: 9-3

Previous ranking: 1

The Dodgers’ starting pitching was considered the team’s biggest concern, by far, heading into the season, but that group has combined for a 2.33 ERA through the team’s first dozen games. On Wednesday, their No. 5 starter, Tony Gonsolin, limited the Braves to one hit in five innings. Moments before he took the mound, Andrew Heaney, who has used a new slider to give up only an unearned run in his first 10 1/3 innings, was placed on the injured list with shoulder discomfort. But the Dodgers don’t expect that to be a long-term injury. — Gonzalez

2. New York Mets

Record: 9-4

Previous ranking: 8

Who needs Jacob deGrom? The Mets’ rotation had a 1.07 ERA through the team’s first 10 games — the lowest ever since earned runs were first officially tabulated in 1913 — and then Max Scherzer followed up with seven scoreless innings Tuesday as the Mets swept a doubleheader against the Giants. Scherzer has won his first three starts, allowing just a .150 batting average and one home run. Carlos Carrasco’s strong start (one run in 10? innings with 13 K’s) is also a good sign after his struggles in 2021. — Schoenfield

3. San Francisco Giants

Record: 8-4

Previous ranking: 11

21hJeff Passan

54mAlden Gonzalez

2dKiley McDaniel

2 Related

Logan Webb’s remarkable streak of 24 starts without a loss was finally snapped in the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Mets, when he allowed three runs and nine baserunners before recording his 12th out. But Webb should be fine. The bigger concern came in the first half of that doubleheader, when the newly signed Alex Cobb landed on the injured list due to an adductor strain. Cobb had been throwing his sinker up into the mid-90s and had the makings of another great find by the team’s savvy front office The hope is that this IL stint will be a relatively short one. — Gonzalez

Record: 7-5

Previous ranking: 3

Rival scouts call Toronto the most talented team on paper in the AL East, but there are some cracks in the foundation. Besides Alek Manoah, the starting rotation has been up and down so far. Still, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is hitting just like the Blue Jays expected, with five home runs through his first 11 games. — Lee

Record: 6-5

Previous ranking: 4

The White Sox have raced to an early lead in the AL Central, where they are heavy favorites to repeat as division champs. That they’ve done so despite a slow collective start from their hitters is more reason for optimism than anxiety, because there seems to be little question that a semi-healthy version of this White Sox lineup is going to put up big offensive numbers. If there is one player who might be worth some actual concern, it’s heavily used utility player Leury Garcia, who managed just one hit over his first 23 at-bats. Garcia ranks in the last percentile in some major categories, such as barrel rate, expected wOBA and chase rate. — Doolittle

Record: 6-6

Previous ranking: 2

The early results of the Houston rotation have collectively been so-so, even though Justin Verlander’s return from injury could hardly be going better and Luis Garcia has been solid. Framber Valdez has had control issues, walking 10 batters over his first three starts. And the bottom of the rotation has seen Jose Urquidy and Jake Odorizzi struggle through two starts apiece. The pair combined for a 6.75 ERA and just 3.6 strikeouts per nine innings. Together, their swing-and-miss percentage was less than half the big league average, and no qualifying pitcher had allowed a higher contact rate than Urquidy. It’s worth noting that so far, this is a continuation of trends for both pitchers, who have seen their strikeout rates decline in each season since 2019. — Doolittle

Record: 7-5

Previous ranking: 6

There are positives: strong starts from Luis Severino and Nestor Cortes on the mound, and Aaron Hicks, DJ LeMahieu and Anthony Rizzo at the plate. But three starts into the year, ace Gerrit Cole has struggled, allowing eight earned runs in 11? innings. In a rough outing against the Tigers on Tuesday, he lasted just 1? innings, allowing two runs while walking five batters. — Lee

Record: 9-5

Previous ranking: 9

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This much was pretty certain about the Padres heading into this season: With Fernando Tatis Jr. expected to be sidelined for the first two months, they needed their starting pitchers and their highest-paid position players to step up. That has basically occurred thus far. Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer have carried the team on offense, and Sean Manaea and Joe Musgrove have dominated through their first three starts. Padres starters lead the majors in innings pitched thus far, an encouraging sign for a team that taxed its bullpen early in the 2021 season. — Gonzalez

Record: 6-8

Previous ranking: 6

The fifth overall pick back in 2017 out of Vanderbilt, Kyle Wright reached the majors in 2018, but despite appearing for the Braves each season from 2018 to 2021, he made just 14 starts and pitched just 70 innings in the majors. This year might finally be the breakout Braves fans have long anticipated. Forced into action in the World Series, he had a strong Game 4 outing against the Astros and has carried that momentum into the start of the regular season, allowing two runs in 11 innings through two outings. The key numbers: 15 strikeouts against just one walk. His fastball velo is up to 95.0, he mixes his four-seamer with a 94-mph sinker, and he has induced seven of those 15 K’s with his curveball, a pitch he seems to be gaining increasing confidence in. — Schoenfield

Record: 7-6

Previous ranking: 5

Wander Franco keeps raising the bar, if that’s still possible. Through his first dozen games, the Ray’s wunderkind shortstop was hitting .404/.408/.638 with a homer and six doubles. First baseman Ji-Man Choi has also been raking, hitting .423/.571/.769 with two homers through his first 10 games. — Lee

Record: 7-3

Previous ranking: 14

St. Louis is plodding along while dealing with some rainouts in the early going. The Cardinals split a four-game road series in MIlwaukee over the weekend, powered by some key home runs. In fact, the Cardinals are averaging the most home runs per game with a lineup that has picked up where it left off last September during that memorable run to the postseason. Albert Pujols is off to a good start, which included a big home run in the Brewers series. — Rogers

Record: 6-6

Previous ranking: 11

The offense — led by Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts and Alex Verdugo — showed signs of life as the Red Sox took four of five games to finish last week. The pitching staff remains a question mark, however. Boston will need strong performances out of Michael Wacha, Rich Hill and Nick Pivetta to make a run at October. — Lee

Record: 8-5

Previous ranking: 12

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Milwaukee’s record is better than the team has looked so far, as the offense seems a lot like it has much of the past few seasons — just OK. Through 11 games, the Brewers had hit just six home runs — though a Christian Yelich grand slam Monday against Pittsburgh helped matters in a big way. The best news is the Brewers got better starts from Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff the second time through the rotation after disastrous debuts. Is the top end of the rotation enough to carry Milwaukee again? It remains to be seen. — Rogers

Record: 8-5

Previous ranking: 17

The Angels are perpetually hankering for top-tier starting pitching, which is why the early signs on Noah Syndergaard have felt so encouraging. Syndergaard, who signed a one-year, $21 million deal over the offseason, has allowed just two runs in 11? innings in his first two starts. He’s relying on his changeup more often than usual, has struck out only five batters and is throwing his fastball an average of about 95 mph — two to three ticks below where he was before Tommy John surgery — but that’s to be expected for a man who barely pitched the past two years. — Gonzalez

Record: 7-5

Previous ranking: 15

The Mariners took two of three from the Astros over the weekend in their first home series of the year, including impressive 11-1 and 7-2 victories (sandwiched around a Justin Verlander gem). Julio Rodriguez did pick up his first RBI but continues to struggle against a steady diet of sliders and slow stuff low and away (just 32% fastballs). Rodriguez has long arms and good bat control, but he stands far off the plate for a modern hitter, and pitchers are so far attacking that outside corner with over 65% of the pitches against him on the outer half of the zone. — Schoenfield

Record: 8-4

Previous ranking: 21

The Rockies are … good? The Rockies, widely considered also-rans yet again heading into 2022, have been one of the more pleasant surprises in the sport thus far, winning eight of their first 12 games while boasting the highest OPS in the sport and averaging more than five runs per game. C.J. Cron, Connor Joe and the new guy, Kris Bryant, have provided the biggest contributions. — Gonzalez

Record: 4-7

Previous ranking: 19

The Detroit offense has continued to flounder, with sub-.200 averages up and down the roster. One of the hitters who has produced is star free-agent acquisition Javier Baez, who ended up on the IL with a sore thumb. Still, as the Tigers and their fans watch Miguel Cabrera’s nearly complete march to 3,000 career hits, the last week has given them an exciting glimpse of the future. After a few hitless games to start his big league career, Spencer Torkelson began to show the prodigious power that marked him as one of the game’s top prospects by bashing his first two career homers and producing elite exit velocities. Perhaps just as encouraging, Torkelson’s chase rate is nearly 10% lower than the big league average. — Doolittle

Record: 6-6

Previous ranking: 20

A scrappy offense has bolted to the top of the stat page as the Cubs set a franchise single-series record when they hit 17 doubles in Colorado over the weekend. That mark is indicative of the transformation the team has made at the plate. Lots of contact — perhaps with fewer home runs and strikeouts — should be the norm moving forward. Not to bury the lead, but their best hitter by far has been early rookie sensation Seiya Suzuki, who began his career getting on base in each of the team’s first 10 games. — Rogers

Record: 5-8

Previous ranking: 10

The offense is off to a slow start, and for some reason manager Joe Girardi deemed it a good idea to roll out an outfield defense of Kyle Schwarber, Matt Vierling and Nick Castellanos at Coors Field, but the early concerns center on Zack Wheeler. Slowed in spring training by shoulder soreness, Wheeler’s velocity was way down on Sunday, when he had the worst start of his Phillies tenure (seven runs in three innings). Last year, according to MLB.com, he threw just one fastball below the MLB average of 93.5 mph. On Sunday, he threw 10 below that mark, including one at 91.1 mph. Through two starts, he has induced just two swings-and-misses on his fastball. — Schoenfield

Record: 6-5

Previous ranking: 18

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Just as it would have been premature to anoint Steven Kwan as a young, more contact-oriented Roy Hobbs last week, it would also be premature to declare that the league has caught up to him after a few hitless games. Kwan will eventually find his level, and it’ll be a while before we know what’s real with him and what’s not. For now, his cooling off gives us a chance to shine a light on a teammate who’s off to an even better overall start: Owen Miller. Before going on the IL because of COVID-19, Miller was on a Kwan-like tear only with a lot more extra bases. Over a six-game span, he doubled in five of them. In the one game without a two-bagger, he homered twice. His average exit velocity ranks in the top fifth of the majors. The pop is real. — Doolittle

Record: 4-7

Previous ranking: 19

Trevor Rogers finished second in the National League Rookie of the Year voting last season, and Jazz Chisholm was certainly one of the most exciting rookies. On the good news front, Chisholm is off to a strong start, including some early positive markers like an improved chase rate and higher hard-hit rate. Rogers, however, has struggled in two outings, including allowing seven runs in just 1? innings in his second start. He struggled with his command and his changeup, and a 40-pitch first inning seemed to zap his velocity in the second as the Phillies knocked him out early. — Schoenfield

Record: 4-8

Previous ranking: 16

A Twins offense that looked strong on paper early in the season has been one of the 10 lowest-scoring attacks in baseball. Minnesota has fallen prey to a nasty combination of outcomes. First, it has continued the trend of past seasons of being overly reliant on walks and homers to score, ranking 19th in three-true-outcome percentage through Tuesday. That approach hasn’t worked because only four teams had a lower home run rate during the same span. The Twins have also dealt with some especially nasty weather in the early going, especially in their home games. When the weather warms, along with the bats of slow-starting core hitters, like Carlos Correa, Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler, the runs should start rolling in. — Doolittle

Record: 7-6

Previous ranking: 27

Oakland dismantled its roster, but the team was sitting atop the division after two weeks of the season. The A’s have gotten strong performances from righties Paul Blackburn and Daulton Jefferies, while the lineup has been boosted by catcher Sean Murphy and shortstop Elvis Andrus. — Lee

Record: 6-8

Previous ranking: 26

Through the team’s first 13 games, Juan Soto and Josh Bell combined for five home runs and 21 walks. The rest of the lineup had just two home runs and 22 walks. Soto had just three RBIs, all on solo home runs. No, he hasn’t come up much with runners on base, but he was also 0-for-9 with four strikeouts with runners in scoring position. The hope was veteran Nelson Cruz would provide a third big bat, but he’s off to a slow start and so is catcher Keibert Ruiz, who has shown the good contact skills he had in the minors, but at the expense of any form of plate discipline (no walks). — Schoenfield

Record: 5-5

Previous ranking: 22

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Bobby Witt Jr. has had a couple of exciting moments at the plate, but all in all, his start as a hitter in the big leagues has been lackluster. Through nine games, he’d struck out 12 times against a single walk and was still searching for his first big league homer. Witt hasn’t hit hard stuff, hasn’t hit breaking stuff and hasn’t hit soft stuff. He just hasn’t hit. Witt has chased more than 41% of the time, 13% above the big league average. Witt has tended to be a little slow out of the gate, including last season for Double-A Northwest Arkansas. In other words: Nothing you thought you knew about Witt has changed. — Doolittle

Record: 2-9

Previous ranking: 25

In a month full of parity to start the MLB season, the Rangers have stood out in how poorly they’ve pitched, compiling one of the highest ERAs in baseball. Dane Dunning, Martin Perez and Taylor Hearn all struggled in their first two turns through the rotation. Combined, they gave up a whopping 37 hits in 24? innings pitched. It’s the reason the Rangers are last in the AL West. — Rogers

Record: 5-7

Previous ranking: 29

The signing of Ke’Bryan Hayes to a long-term deal might be the best thing to happen in Pittsburgh this season, but at least they haven’t fallen off the cliff in the early going. A series win over the Nationals propped up their record, but they’ll be on thin ice all season long. But signing Hayes should at least give the Pirates some hope for the future. He’s off to a great start at the plate and in the field. — Rogers

Record: 4-8

Previous ranking: 28

The D-backs averaged 0.45 runs through their first 11 games. Yeah, that’s right — 0.45! Their collective OPS, .455, was 258 points below the league average. The five players who had absorbed the most plate appearances — Ketel Marte, David Peralta, Daulton Varsho, Christian Walker and Pavin Smith — had combined for a .182/.293/.318 slash line. The D-backs lost 110 games last year. And it doesn’t seem as if they’re much better in 2022. — Gonzalez

Record: 2-11

Previous ranking: 24

As expected when you strip your team down of talent, the Reds are off to a terrible start. Cincinnati is last in hitting (OPS) and second to last in pitching (ERA). That about sums it up. The schedule makers did them no favors, as the Reds already played a four-game road series against both the Braves and Dodgers plus three more in San Diego. They split with the Braves but got swept by the Dodgers, putting them in last place in the NL Central. — Rogers

Record: 4-8

Previous ranking: 30

There weren’t many expectations for the Orioles this season to begin with, but losing John Means to the 60-day injured list because of a strained left elbow was a blow nonetheless. The team did take two of three against the Yankees, though. — Lee

Source: ESPN MLB

    

Author: Ellen Garcia