Power Rankings: Detroit Tigers nab top spot in first week of voting
The first edition of SI.com's 2014 MLB Power Rankings is here, and it comes in a brand new format. For this season, we will be polling our MLB experts each week to come up with a comprehensive ranking of all 30 teams. A first-place vote earns a team 30 points, a second-place vote gets 29, and so on down to the 30th spot. After all the votes are in, we add up the points to create the rankings.
Now, without further ado: This week's rankings.
1. Detroit Tigers (198 points)
2. San Francisco Giants (192 points)
3. Tampa Bay Rays (179 points)
4. Washington Nationals (176 points)
5. Los Angeles Dodgers (175 points)
6. Atlanta Braves (168 points)
7. St. Louis Cardinals (167 points)
8. Pittsburgh Pirates (157 points)
9. Seattle Mariners (147 points)
10. Miami Marlins (137 points)
11. Oakland Athletics (132 points)
12. Boston Red Sox (126 points)
13. Texas Rangers (124 points)
14. Milwaukee Brewers (118 points)
15. New York Yankees (117 points)
16. Kansas City Royals (114 points)
17. Cleveland Indians (106 points)
18. Cincinnati Reds (89 points)
19. Chicago White Sox (75 points)
20. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (70 points)
21. Baltimore Orioles (69 points)
22. Minnesota Twins (68 points)
23. Colorado Rockies (63 points)
24. Toronto Blue Jays (57 points)
25. San Diego Padres (52 points)
26. Philadelphia Phillies (49 points)
27. Houston Astros (42 points)
28. Arizona Diamondbacks (34 points)
29. New York Mets (32 points)
30. Chicago Cubs (22 points)
This week, the No. 1 spot belongs to the Detroit Tigers, who earned three of seven first-place votes and finished with 198 points, six clear of second-place San Francisco. The Tigers are 4-1 to start the season, with an offense boasting an MLB-best .488 slugging percentage and an .825 OPS, the second-best mark in baseball behind Colorado's. Meanwhile, the team's collective 3.13 ERA is 10th in baseball (fourth in the American League). In their first week of the season, the Tigers swept the Royals in a rain-shortened opening series, then took two of three from Baltimore to wrap up a five-game homestand. Unsurprisingly, Miguel Cabrera has been MVP-caliber already, with seven hits in his first 20 at-bats, but the whole lineup has chipped in so far, particularly Torii Hunter, who has already hit three homers.
At the opposite end of the rankings, the No. 30 spot belongs to the Cubs, who got three last-place votes. Chicago's .587 OPS is third-worst in baseball, ahead of only St. Louis and San Diego, with a miserable .294 slugging percentage and just three homers through the team's first six games. The Cubs' pitching has been better, with a 2.54 ERA so far, but that comes with 26 walks allowed, fifth-worst in the game. Starlin Castro is off to yet another slow start, with six hits in his first 25 at-bats, and Emilio Bonifacio's red-hot opening week (14 hits in 28 at-bats and four stolen bases) hasn't been able to overcome weak performances from the majority of the lineup.
Each week, we'll also highlight teams that made the biggest jump or took the biggest fall in the rankings. Given that this is the first Power Rankings of the season, we'll chart that against our preseason rankings. The biggest riser is the surprising Miami Marlins, who sit in the No. 10 spot after starting the year 5-2. Ranked as our fourth-worst team going into the season, the Marlins have surprised everyone by jumping to the top of the NL East behind the pitching of Jose Fernandez (0.71 ERA in his first two starts) and the bat of Giancarlo Stanton (two homers, 12 RBI, .345 average in 29 at-bats). That earned them a first-place vote and two votes at seventh place.
The biggest tumble relative to preseason predictions, meanwhile, was made by the Padres, who are No. 25 in the first week's rankings after being tabbed as our 13th-best team before the year. Blame San Diego's offense for their bottom-five ranking: The Padres' .513 OPS is far and away the worst in the majors. In particular, miserable opening weeks for Jedd Gyorko (two hits, three walks and nine strikeouts in 24 plate appearances), Yonder Alonso (four hits, no walks in 24 PA) and Chase Headley (three hits in 23 at-bats) have left San Diego's lineup with no punch. Andrew Cashner has been solid in his first two starts, but the back end of the rotation has struggled, and the bullpen has been hit hard, with seven earned runs in 21 innings.
A few other notes from the first week's rankings:
- Slow starts by last year's league champions, St. Louis and Boston, didn't faze our experts too much. The Cardinals are 3-3 but earned one first-place vote en route to the sixth spot in this week's ranking, and Boston checked in at No. 11 despite a 2-4 record so far.
- Overall, the first-place votes broke down as: Three for the Tigers, one for the Giants, one for the Marlins, one for the Dodgers and one for the Cardinals. For last place, three votes apiece were cast for the Cubs and Diamondbacks, with the Astros getting the final vote.