That group will not include the most polarizing team in the sport. The New York Yankees just took four of six on a road trip where they had to visit two teams who could possibly be among the best in baseball by the end of the season. That's no small feat, but it is one that lands them in a familiar spot for this week: atop the baseball world.
I also considered the Phillies, Twins, Giants and Tigers for the top spot. In all, the determining factor was the schedule strength. Each of those four teams have faced a cupcake or two. As for the sure-to-be-disgruntled Blue Jays and A's fans, well, what can I say? I don't believe they can keep it up.
Anyway, check out the rankings below. And remember, these are strictly for entertainment and discussion purposes -- as we all enjoy a good argument. Just make it well thought out and sell your case.
(Rankings, records and comments reflect performance through April 11.)
- 1. Yankees | Record: 4-2 | Previous Week: 4
So far, so good? The major knock against the Yankees' acquisition of Curtis Granderson was his inability to hit left-handed pitching. He's 3-for-10 with a .364 OBP against lefties so far. This was against two really good pitching staffs, and, of course, he's already killing righties the way he always has.
- 2. Phillies | Record: 5-1 | Previous Week: 2
Was there ever any doubt that picking up Roy Halladay was an extremely smart thing to do for the Phillies? In two starts, Halladay has struck out 17 batters in 16 innings, pitched a complete game and only allowed one earned run. With his ERA (0.56) and WHIP (0.94) both residing at microscopic levels, it will be interesting to see how many starts it takes for those ratios to climb above 2.00 and 1.00, respectively. -- Knox Bardeen
- 3. Giants | Record: 5-1 | Previous Week: 11
They lucked out in catching an Astros team without Lance Berkman and a Braves team without Chipper Jones. However, their pitching was just as good as expected in the first week, with all the starters except for Jonathan Sanchez contributing solid outings. Even the offense was surprisingly robust, averaging five runs. If Edgar Renteria can hit .524 all year, they might be scary. -- Jeff Fletcher
- 4. Twins | Record: 5-2 | Previous Week: 16
Taking three of four in Los Angeles, and then two of three in Chicago is a nice way to start a season. Now the Twins get to open the doors of Target Field. Oh, and Jon Rauch has converted his first four save opportunities. This team just keeps on keeping on. -- Tom Fornelli
- 5. Tigers | Record: 5-1 | Previous Week: 14
The Tigers have jumped out to the early division lead thanks to their 5-1 start, and things are clicking on all cylinders. The offense is hitting, and the pitching is getting people out. Hell, even Dontrelle won his first start. -- Tom Fornelli
- 6. Cardinals | Record: 4-2 | Previous Week: 7
Matt Holliday, Colby Rasmus, and Albert Pujols are off to torrid starts and Brad Penny and Jaime Garcia both turned in good starts the first time through the rotation, so everything's on schedule for the Cards through one week. Well, everything except the bullpen, which has seen bad outings from both Ryan Franklin and Jason Motte. -- Pat Lackey
- 7. Rays | Record: 3-3 | Previous Week: 5
Getting a quality start from David Price against the Yankees was a great sign. The 24-year-old former No. 1 overall pick could really come into his own this season. If he does, he gives the Rays quite the formidable top three, fitting right behind James Shields and Matt Garza.
- 8. Red Sox | Record: 3-3 | Previous Week: 1
Looks like another slow start for Big Papi (.111 average, .167 slugging percentage), meaning we're going to be bombarded with Adrian Gonzalez-to-the-Red Sox talks here pretty quickly. Ortiz rebounded in the second half last season, but he's not getting any younger.
- 9. Blue Jays | Record: 5-1 | Previous Week: 22
I suppose I have to say why I don't believe in them? OK. Alex Gonzalez can't keep hitting like this, nor can Vernon Wells. The young starting pitching has promise, but won't stay consistent. They have an awful lot of games against the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays and they can't compete with those three teams. I do fully expect the Jays to have a really nice record on April 21 (they have 10 home games until then) before they start coming back to Earth. Remember, we've seen this before (last season they started 27-14 and finished 75-87 -- and now they don't have Roy Halladay).
- 10. A's | Record: 5-2 | Previous Week: 23
Even though they are without injured relievers Joey Devine and Michael Wuertz, two of the pitchers they had counted on for late-inning work, the bullpen still had a 2.07 ERA in the first week. The bullpen has allowed them to come from behind in three of their five victories. -- Jeff Fletcher
- 11. Diamondbacks | Record: 4-2 | Previous Week: 13
Everything is going well thus far, and Brandon Webb is scheduled to start throwing pretty soon. I'd love to see them get some wins against quality teams (they have only faced the Pirates and Padres thus far), and I believe they will. Watch out for huge bounceback seasons -- already in progress -- from Kelly Johnson and Chris Young.
- 12. Braves | Record: 3-3 | Previous Week: 12
In Atlanta's three wins, Jason Heyward is 6-for-11 with two home runs and seven RBI. In their three losses he's just 1-for-13. Heyward's feast or famine early-season hitting mirrors the Braves' run production. It's not fair to saddle the young rookie with the burden of wins and losses, but what about the expectations placed on Heyward thus far have been fair? -- Knox Bardeen
- 13. Brewers | Record: 3-3 | Previous Week: 17
The Brewers' newly revamped rotation has averaged fewer than six innings a start so far. That might not be so bad, except that Trevor Hoffman has, in four appearances, already allowed more than half as many runs as he did in 55 appearances in 2009. It's early in the season, of course, but he is 42 and so the Brewers must be a least a little concerned. -- Pat Lackey
- 14. Rockies | Record: 3-3 | Previous Week: 3
No one in the majors had better stuff in their first outing than Jorge de la Rosa did Friday against the Padres. Sure, that offense isn't exactly the '27 Yankees, but de la Rosa would have shut anyone down.
- 15. Marlins | Record: 4-2 | Previous Week: 21
Jorge Cantu has at least one RBI in each of the Marlins first six games (10 overall). He's also batting .320 and has blasted two home runs. Expect a lot of RBI chances for Cantu this year with Hanley Ramirez and Cameron Maybin hitting in front of him. -- Knox Bardeen
- 16. Reds | Record: 3-3 | Previous Week: 20
Their offense hasn't done much (22 runs in six games), but their rotation has been excellent so far and is the reason they're at 3-3 after the first week. Something to watch though: Mike Leake was allowed to throw 107 pitches and walk seven batters in his professional debut. It's just one start, but then, it is Dusty Baker. - Pat Lackey
- 17. Rangers | Record: 3-3 | Previous Week: 9
In switching closers -- even if just temporarily -- to Neftali Feliz, the Rangers have opted to entertain the masses. Feliz is absolutely lights out when he's on. As long as the Rangers aren't facing your favorite team, tune in to enjoy the talent he possesses.
- 18. White Sox | Record: 2-4 | Previous Week: 6
So far things aren't going to plan for Ozzie Guillen's team. The bullpen is blowing leads, and the small ball offense is only small when you look at run totals. Fact is, 11 of the team's 21 runs through Sunday have come courtesy of the home run. -- Tom Fornelli
- 19. Cubs | Record: 2-4 | Previous Week: 18
They could very easily be 5-1 right now, as their last three losses have come in the opposing team's final at-bat. Middle relief and (a lack of) timely hitting have doomed them in all three of those games. The starting pitching and Carlos Marmol, on the other hand, have been absolutely brilliant since the debacle on Opening Day.
- 20. Mariners | Record: 2-5 | Previous Week: 8
Milton Bradley is already causing issues? No way! The amazing thing about this movement -- in addition to Carlos Silva's strong outing for the Cubs -- is that the trade could possibly turn out worse for the Mariners than the Cubs.
- 21. Angels | Record: 2-5 | Previous Week: 10
Off to their worst seven-game start since 2003, the Angels next play three games at Yankee Stadium. Third baseman Brandon Wood is 1-for-19 with no walks and made a key throwing error on Sunday. -- Tom Krasovic
- 22. Nationals | Record: 3-3 | Previous Week: 30
Up in the majors. the Nationals are 3-3, coming off of a series win against the Mets. but are dealing with a Ryan Zimmerman tweaked hamstring that will have him out until Wednesday. The real news came from Double-A Harrisburg where Stephen Strasburg debuted on Sunday. He struck out eight in five innings of work and allowed one earned run on four hits. -- Knox Bardeen
- 23. Pirates | Record: 3-3 | Previous Week: 24
Two innings in which they allowed 19 runs effectively spoiled an entire series against Arizona, good showing against Dan Haren on Saturday or not. They don't have much bullpen depth (though that may change with Joel Hanrahan's impending return from the DL) and haven't been getting long outings from their starters, which has been a recipe for disaster in all three of their losses this year. -- Pat Lackey
- 24. Dodgers | Record: 2-4 | Previous Week: 19
Was Randy Wolf that important? Only one significant pitcher is gone from a team that led the majors in ERA last year, and in the first week the Dodgers had a 5.23 ERA. Through the first six games they've only had a starter get an out in the seventh inning once. - Jeff Fletcher
- 25. Mets | Record: 2-4 | Previous Week: 15
It took the Mets just six games to place their first player, Sean Green, on the disabled list. If this is indicative of how the season could progress, it may be an even longer season than last year. Tempers have already boiled over on the field when benches cleared after Francisco Rodriguez plunked Washington's Willie Harris. How long before the collective tempers of the fans reach a boiling point? -- Knox Bardeen
- 26. Indians | Record: 2-4 | Previous Week: 29
Any positivity from starting the season by taking two of three from the White Sox was quickly erased over the weekend in Detroit. Blowing a 7-1 lead to the Tigers on Sunday didn't help much either. - Tom Fornelli
- 27. Padres | Record: 2-4 | Previous Week: 26
Their home opener comes Monday against the Braves. With pitcher Chris Young already on the disabled list, the talent-thin Padres already are in gut-check mode.. - Tom Krasovic
- 28. Royals | Record: 2-4 | Previous Week: 28
Seems the schedule-makers did the Royals no favors in April, and with more games scheduled against Detroit, Minnesota, Boston and a surprising Toronto team, the Royals may be in big trouble by May. - Tom Fornelli
- 29. Orioles | Record: 1-5 | Previous Week: 25
Brian Roberts is headed to the DL, there are already closer issues and they were swept at home by the Jays. Things aren't going well for the Orioles. It doesn't appear they'll get better anytime soon, either, as the O's host the Rays for three before a 10-game road trip (seven out West and three in Boston). Oh, after that they return home to face the Yankees and Red Sox ... before heading to the Bronx for three more. And then to Minnesota for four. It's going to get ugly very fast.
- 30. Astros | Record: 0-6 | Previous Week: 27
Only the Lance Berkman-less Astros have managed to finish up the first week of the season without a win, and it's been an ugly week in Houston. They've been outscored 37-16 so far by the Phillies and Giants, and their schedule doesn't let up. Their next nine games are against the Cardinals, Cubs, and Marlins before they get a bit of a reprieve by hosting the Pirates. - Pat Lackey