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2023 MLB Power Rankings: Week 3

Rangers, Mets and Pirates take an early leap forward as Padres tumble.

Every week, the Pitcher List team publishes an update to our Power Rankings, reviewing the biggest risers and fallers of the past seven days. As always, the full rankings can be found at the bottom of this article … but where’s the fun in that?

Ranking anything in the early season is as volatile as batting averages and ERAs. A 4-for-4 day can take a hitter’s average from .235 to .285, while a starter who allows six runs without getting an out can see his ERA balloon from 0.75 to 3.00.

So it is more important to look at trends rather than bottom-line results early in the season. Things will change dramatically over 162 games. Remember last season in mid-May when the entire National League West was at .500 or better?

About the only thing you can say with any certainty is that the Tampa Bay Rays should be in the top handful of teams by the end of the season after retaining the No. 1 spot in this week’s Power Rankings, fending off Atlanta after their record-tying 13-0 start. Oh, of course, the Oakland A’s are likely to solidify their No. 30 position after the late-night announcement Wednesday that ownership was focused on moving the team to Las Vegas.

This past week saw three teams make big jumps (Texas Rangers, New York Mets, Pittsburgh Pirates) and another took a huge stumble (San Diego Padres). Just remember that it is still early.

 

Movin’ On Up

 

Texas Rangers

Record: 12-6

Rank change: +7 (11 to 4)

The optimism from the offseason is showing its potential. The Rangers have had a 5-1 week, taking two of three from the World Series champion Houston Astros, then sweeping the Kansas City Royals. Granted, the Astros aren’t in postseason form at the moment and have dropped down to No. 10 in our Power Rankings, but the early-season series was big for the Rangers from at least a mental standpoint.

The only noteworthy concern was oft-injured ace Jacob deGrom, the big offseason acquisition, leaving Monday’s start against the Royals after just four innings due to wrist soreness, but he is scheduled to make his next start this weekend. Being without shortstop Corey Seager (left hamstring strain) will hurt until his expected return in mid-May. It has been a nice balance of pitching and hitting that has the Rangers off to their best start since 2013.

 

New York Mets

Record: 13-7

Rank change: +7 (13 to 6)

It has been a slightly bumpy early season for the big-payroll Mets, but a recent five-game winning streak seems to have gotten things going in a slightly better direction.

Sweeping three road games from the A’s isn’t exactly a great accomplishment, more of an expectation at the moment, especially when they issue walk 17 times in one game. A better litmus test was traveling down and taking two of three from the Los Angeles Dodgers. Pete Alonso is powering the offense with eight home runs. Ace Max Scherzer was officially slapped with a 10-game suspension following his ejection for sticky stuff from Wednesday’s game. He is not appealing, which will stretch a rotation already thinned by injuries to Justin Verlander, José Quintana, and Carlos Carrasco.

 

Pittsburgh Pirates

Record: 13-7

Rank change: +7 (20 to 13)

An early-season surprise, the Pirates held their own this week following star young shortstop Oneil Cruz fracturing his left ankle while sliding into home. The Pirates are coming off a four-game split with the St. Louis Cardinals and a three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies. After building the core of a solid bullpen, the Pirates have found another young rotation add in 25-year-old right-hander Johan Oviedo, who has a 2.22 ERA and 1.15 WHIP with eight walks and 25 strikeouts in 24⅓ innings.

Oviedo came to the Pirates from the Cardinals in last year’s Quintana trade. Outfielder Bryan Reynolds is showing out while allegedly still negotiating a new contract with the Pirates. Reynolds is slashing .291/.314/.544 with five homers and 17 RBIs, both team highs. The return of outfielder Andrew McCutchen is also paying dividends, with the 2013 NL MVP slashing .290/.395/.548, a better offensive presence than expected, at least to this point.

 

Hittin’ The Skids

 

San Diego Padres

Record: 10-11

Rank change: -5 (6 to 11)

Call this the pre-FTJ reaction. While Fernando Tatis Jr. returned to the Padres’ lineup Thursday following his 80-game suspension for a performance-enhancing drug, going 0-for-5, the team has struggled with a tough early-season schedule. Thursday marked the start of the Padres’ second series against the surprising Arizona Diamondbacks, sandwiched around matchups with the Mets, Milwaukee Brewers, and Atlanta.

The Friars, who spent big in the offseason, dropped three of four over the weekend to the Brewers, leaders of the NL Central, and then two of three to the Braves, who sit atop the NL East. Those two teams sit second and third in our Power Rankings and knocked the Padres out of the top 10. While shortstop Xander Bogaerts has been better than advertised in the early going, left fielder Juan Soto has continued to struggle since switching coasts at the trade deadline last year and is slashing .183/.363/.394 this season.

 

Week 3 Power Rankings

Steve Drumwright

Steve Drumwright is a lifelong baseball fan who retired as a player before he had the chance to be cut from the freshman team in high school. He recovered to become a sportswriter and have a successful journalism career at newspapers in Wisconsin and California. Follow him on Twitter @DrummerWrites.

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