2014 MLB Power Rankings: Week 1

Throughout the 2014 MLB Season, Greg Kaplan and Alex Herd will brainstorm the MLB Power Rankings, stacking each team from 1-30. 

 

Miguel Cabrera1. (Last week: 6) Detroit Tigers (4-1) (vs. Royals: 2-0, vs. Orioles: 2-1)

The Tigers started 2014 with a bang, beating the Royals in 2 games (the 3rd was rained out) and having their offense go off against Baltimore’s pitching staff for the first two games of the series before getting cooled off in game #3.  Their offense is designed to beat up on weak pitchers and they did just that.  After 1 week, the Tigers look like the team to beat in the AL.

2. (9) San Francisco Giants (5-2) (@ Diamondbacks: 3-1, @ Dodgers: 2-1)

If you’re wondering why the Giants shot up the rankings from preseason to week 1, it’s because the Giants played 7 games against tough division opponents, all on the road, and won 5 of them.  The Dodgers were projected as the strong favorites to win the NL West but at least a week into the season, the Giants look like the team to beat in the division.

3. (2) St. Louis Cardinals (3-3) (@ Reds: 2-1, @ Pirates: 1-2) 

 The Cardinals opened up the season in a tough way – playing their two toughest division opponents in 6 straight road games.  After splitting back-to-back 1-0 games with the Reds, the Cardinals finished off the series with a win.  They weren’t so lucky in Pittsburgh, getting beat badly in game 1 and losing game 3 despite a 2nd straight gem for Adam Wainwright.  They can’t ask for too much more from their pitching staff and need the offense to step up now.

4. (10) Atlanta Braves (4-2) (@ Brewers: 2-1, @ Nationals: 2-1)

After losing two of their starters for the season before it even began, the weak spot for the Braves was supposed to be their pitching.  Instead, the Braves staff was the most dominant in the majors for the first week, shutting down the Brewers and Nationals over 6 games.  Their offense did not show up for a few games but if their pitchers can keep it up, we may have a close race for the NL East after all.

5. (4) Tampa Bay Rays (4-3) (vs. Blue Jays: 2-2, vs. Rangers: 2-1)

No one had any doubts about the Rays pitching going into the season.  This first week, that’s seemed like a good call, they’re staff pitched beautifully against two of the more dangerous offenses in the majors.  Any questions would be about their offense.  In their 4 wins, the Rays scored 29 runs but in their 3 losses – only 2.  Truly a boom or bust team through the first 7 games, the Rays showed that they can do it all, but just not every night.

6. (5) Washington Nationals (4-2) (@ Mets: 3-0, vs. Braves: 1-2)

The Nationals started off with a bang, sweeping the Mets in New York while the Mets scored first in all three games.  Then they headed home to play the Braves, who have had their number for quite some time.  The first game was very close but the Nats couldn’t crack the Braves tough pitching.  The second game was a blow out but the finals game of the series ended with a big win for the Nats thanks to a great spot start.  Bryce Harper has struggled so much he was taken out of Sunday’s game, Ryan Zimmerman can’t seem to complete a throw to first from third and Strasburg has not been his usual self, oh and Fister is still on the DL and the Nats are still 4-2.

7. (3) Los Angeles Dodgers (5-3) (@ Padres: 2-1, vs. Giants 1-2)

The Dodgers have had the strangest schedule to start the year, playing 2 games in Australia, then having 2 off days in the first week.  With Kershaw on the DL, the pitching staff has not been quite as sound as they would like.  The Padres played the Dodgers tough and the Giants plain out handled them in the first two games of the series before the Dodgers closed the series with a win.

Andrew McCutchen8. (17) Pittsburgh Pirates (4-2) (vs. Cubs: 2-1, vs. Cardinals: 2-1)

When Greg did the preseason power rankings, I was shocked to see them ranked as low as 17th.  1 week in, they’re looking like a playoff team again after fighting tough pitching duels with the Cubs and then winning 2 of 3 against the run away favorites to win the NL Central, the Cardinals.  Their pitching seems to be legit once again and the hitting has been there to support to them just enough to a 4-2 start.

9. (23) Milwaukee Brewers (4-2) (vs. Braves: 1-2, @ Red Sox: 3-0)

The Brewers may have lost the opening series against the Braves but it almost seemed like a playoff series with how competitive it was.  They then went on the road to sweep the defending world champs.  The Brewers weren’t really in the conversation for potential NL Central winners and it’s a bit early to start having that conversation, but no team in that division looked as good this week as the Brewers did.

10. (1) Boston Red Sox (2-4) (@ Orioles: 2-1, vs. Brewers: 0-3)

The Red Sox started off with a nice series against the Orioles but came home only to get swept by the Brewers in three games.  They seemed to lose games for a variety of reasons, from a bull-pen blow up, starters hitting hit early, and just a pure lack of offense.  It’s not the start to the year Boston fans want to see from the reigning champs and it’s surely enough to knock them off the #1 spot they had in our preseason ranking.

11. (19) Seattle Mariners (4-2) (@ Angels: 3-0, @ Athletics: 1-2)

The Mariners could not have asked for a better start to the season than going into LA and sweeping the Angels while showing some big talent both in the rotation and in the lineup.  The trip to Oakland was not quite as impressive, dropping 2 of the 3 but the Mariners won 4 of 6 road games and their 2nd best starter hasn’t even pitched yet this season.

12. (29) Miami Marlins (5-2) (vs. Rockies: 3-1, vs. Padres: 2-1)

The Marlins got off to an incredibly impressive start behind some great pitching performances and some monster offensive explosions.  If the season ended after the first week, the Marlins may be in the top 5 for overall performances.  7 home games against below average teams don’t make the Marlins a great team but it does make them a hot one.

13. (7) Oakland Athletics (3-3) (vs. Indians: 1-2, vs. Mariners: 2-1)

The A’s had 2 games postponed in the first week of the season which made for an interesting start.  They played in close games all week but winning 2 of 3 against their division rivals was a nice cap to it.  Sonny Gray was the biggest bright spot (pun definitely intended) on the team.

14. (12) Texas Rangers (3-3) (vs. Phillies: 2-1, @ Rays: 1-2)

The Rangers had some late inning heroics against the Phillies but had their offense cooled off by the Rays while their staff couldn’t stop Tampa’s offense.  Yu Darvish came off the DL just in time to make the Sunday start and was dominant, which is a big addition they’ll have going forward in the season.

15. (8) Cincinnati Reds (2-4) (vs. Cardinals: 1-2, @ Mets: 1-2)

If the week ended after the 3 game series against the Cardinals, we’d probably be talking about how good the Reds looked against a tough opponent.  Instead, the Reds had to go into New York where they managed to lose the first two games while blowing the lead including a pinch-hit grand slam in the 9th when the Reds were up 3.  Sunday made for a positive finish as their staff shut down the Mets offense and there’s obviously hope – Chapman and Broxton will round off the bullpen when they get off the DL.

16. (14) Baltimore Orioles (2-4) (vs. Red Sox: 1-2, @ Detroit: 1-2) 

I don’t think any team had a tougher opening week schedule than the Orioles who hosted the reigning champs and then traveled to Detroit.  There are a lot of concerns about the Orioles pitching, and those seemed justified after the first week, but Chris Tillman pitched in both wins for the Orioles and handled 2 very strong offenses rather well.

17. (13) Kansas City Royals (2-3) (@ Tigers 0-2, vs. White Sox: 2-1)

The Royals had the tough start, traveling to Detroit to begin the season where they did not fare particularly well.  They played the Tigers tough but couldn’t come away with a win (though 1 of the games did get postponed).  A home stand against the White Sox went well, shutting their offense down while putting up solid performances of their own at the plate.  They did lose the last game but Chris Sale can shut down almost every offense.

18. (11) Los Angeles Angels (2-4) (vs. Mariners: 0-3, @ Astros: 2-1)

The Angels started the season off by getting swept at home against the Mariners.  It’s not just that they lost, it’s that they lost badly, putting up little offensively and letting up a lot of scoring for the M’s.  Following it up with 2 wins against the Astros is nice, but it’s not exactly impressive and the Sunday loss came off Weaver’s 2nd rough outing of the season which is another thing to be concerned about.

19. (15) Cleveland Indians (3-3) (@ Athletics: 2-1, vs. Twins: 1-2)

The Indians started off strong, going into Oakland and winning some big games but they looked weak at home against a not so impressive Twins team.  The biggest issue was their pitching staff, which was an area of weakness from the preseason.

20. (16) New York Yankees (3-3) (@ Astros: 1-2, @ Blue Jays: 2-1)

Heading into Houston to start the year should have been an easy start for the Yankees but they dropped the first two to the Astros and couldn’t find any offense.  The offense came alive in Toronto, at least for 2 of the 3 games, as well as Tanaka starting his MLB career in the right way.  However, Teixeira already found himself on the DL and the Yankees will really need to step it up moving forward.

Jose Bautista21. (25) Toronto Blue Jays (3-4) (@ Rays: 2-2, vs. Yankees: 1-2)

The Blue Jays should be happy splitting a road series with a very talented Rays team though their weaknesses showed against the Yankees.  The pitching needs to improve and the offense needs to keep the power coming.

22. (21) Chicago White Sox (3-3) (vs. Twins: 2-1, @ Royals: 1-2)

The White Sox started off 2-0 only to drop 3 of the next 4 games.  When Chris Sale starts, it can basically be counted on as a win but the rest of the time it’s up in the air.  The young players have gotten off to a strong start and Alejandro De Aza has really turned it on but the White Sox will need better stuff from the rotation after Sale to keep winning games.

23. (24) Colorado Rockies (3-4) (@ Marlins: 1-3, vs. Diamondbacks: 2-1)

The Rockies started off a 4 game series against the Marlins and while their offense was pretty good, the pitching wasn’t there against a team that’s not supposed to be too good at the plate. They did bounce back with a series victory over the Diamondbacks but need to be more complete at all elements of the game.

24. (20) New York Mets (2-4) (vs. Nationals: 0-3, vs. Reds: 2-1)

After the Mets got swept at home by the Nationals, and the entire New York fan base declared their season over while calling for a total team rebuild, the Mets managed a big series win against the Reds with the help of some big offense and late inning comebacks.  They’re still a long way from the playoffs but it’s a good rebound from a tough start to the year.

25. (18) Arizona Diamondbacks (2-7) (vs. Giants: 1-3, @ Rockies: 1-2)

The Diamondbacks were the other team affected by the Australia schedule and they did not start off very well.  9 straight division games with only 2 wins is rough and their pitching was just not at the level they need it to be.  Mark Trumbo looks like a great addition and Paul Goldschmidt got off to a good start but otherwise not much has gone right for the D-Backs so far.

26. (30) Houston Astros (3-3) (vs. Yankees: 2-1, vs. Angels: 1-2)

The Astros started off the year by making the Yankee fan base panic and winning the series against them.  They got beat up by the Angels who were coming off a sweep.  The Astros are not going to win many games this year but beating the Yankees on opening day is a nice way to make the highlight reel.

27. (22) San Diego Padres (2-4) (vs. Dodgers: 1-2, @ Marlins: 1-2)

The Padres began the season with a big opening day win against the Dodgers but lost 4 straight after that as the offense couldn’t seem to get things together.  This team was the popular sleeper team pick (oxymorons be damned) mainly because of how much young talent they have but that youth led to an offense that got rolled over during the first week.

28. (26) Philadelphia Phillies (3-3) (@ Rangers: 1-2, @ Cubs: 2-1)

The Phillies opening day caused a panic when Cliff Lee blew up  even though the team got the win.  They weren’t able to grab the series against the Rangers but did play well against the Cubs, including a very strong outing from Lee.

29. (27) Minnesota Twins (3-3) (@ White Sox: 1-2, @ Indians: 2-1)

The Twins offense was surprisingly good during the first week, led mainly by DH Chris Colabello who recorded 11 RBIs in the 3 games.  With the exception of Chris Sale, they didn’t play against the most stellar pitching but a hot start offensively is nice to see.

30. (28) Chicago Cubs (2-4) (@ Pirates: 1-2, vs. Phillies: 1-2)

The Cubs just weren’t able to put things together during the first week of games.  Hammel had a nice outing against the Pirates and the Cubs offense was able to beat up on AJ Burnett a bit but besides that there wasn’t anything too exciting about the Cubs opening week performance.