Red Sox restoring order in Power Rankings
Traditional power has put up best record in baseball in early going
The eyes of the baseball world are back on Boston, as one of the usual beasts of the American League East is back in business.
The Orioles and Rays are also in the AL East mix and the oft-injured Yankees refuse to roll over, but there's something that just feels nostalgic about the Red Sox leading the AL East and sporting the best record in baseball as the first month of the season nears its end.
There is no denying that the team has flexed its muscle and the Boston faithful have come out in full force, but how long can the Red Sox display this type of power?
Is it too early to claim Boston as the best team in the American League, or does that title belong to the Rangers, A's or Kansas City? Or maybe the Tigers, the reigning American League champs, are still the best team in the land.
Back in the National League, can anyone compete with the Braves? And which division is the strongest, the NL Central or the NL West?
Once again, it's time to hear your voice and your vote.
MLB.com has set up a panel of experts to vote on the top 15 teams each week. The group includes MLB.com vice president and executive editor Carlton Thompson, VP and executive producer Jim Jenks, columnists Mike Bauman, Hal Bodley, Anthony Castrovince, Richard Justice, Matthew Leach, Terence Moore and Tracy Ringolsby, reporters Barry M. Bloom, Marty Noble, Jesse Sanchez and Lyle Spencer, and MLB Network analyst Mitch Williams.
Agree? Disagree? The power to rank the teams is yours.
1. Red Sox
The streaking Red Sox have won five in a row and have to be overjoyed with the recent production from veteran John Lackey. The owners of the best record in baseball, the Red Sox (18-7) are off to their best start since 2002. They entered Monday needing one more victory to establish a club record for wins in April.
Last week: 5
Despite a recent two-game skid, the Rangers have still won seven of their past 10 and lead the AL West by 2 1/2 games. Yu Darvish is pitching like a staff ace, having given up just six hits in 13 innings and striking out 21 in his past two starts. He has not given up a run in 18 innings.
Last week: 2
It's never going to be boring in Atlanta. The Braves won 12 of their first 14 games, but they have now lost seven of their past 10. Justin Upton already has 12 home runs and 18 RBIs in his first season in Atlanta.
Last week: 1
The Yankees are without All-Stars Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, but they have not missed a beat. New York is 14-5 since April 7 after starting the year with a 1-4 record.
Last week: 9
These O's are for real. The Orioles have won eight of their past 11 games, including three of four against the defending AL West champion Athletics over the weekend. Adam Jones and Chris Davis have combined for 13 home runs and 48 RBIs.
Last week: 13
While Martin Prado has understandably received a lion's share of the attention, it is Gerardo Parra who is off to a hot start. The Venezuelan outfielder is riding a career-high 13-game hitting streak and has reached base safely in 24 of 25 games.
Last week: 12
Don't look now, but the Pirates have won five of their past six games and have leaped past the Cardinals into first place in the NL Central. The club's 15 wins this month have already tied a club record for victories in April. They have succeeded despite the hitting woes of Andrew McCutchen, who is in the midst of a 1-for-25 slump, the worst of his career.
Last week: NR
The new-look Royals have pitched their way to the top of the standings in the AL Central, and Ervin Santana is a big reason for that. Santana is 3-1 with a 2.00 ERA in five starts; last April, he went 0-5 with a 6.16 ERA. Only Texas' pitchers, who have an ERA of 3.02, have a better ERA than the Royals' 3.10 mark.
Last week: 11
The hot-hitting Rockies dropped three of four to the D-backs over the weekend and suffered another blow when All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki exited Sunday's contest with a left shoulder strain after sliding into home plate. He is day-to-day.
Last week: 4
The Redbirds are coming off consecutive losses to the Pirates and have fallen out of the top spot in the NL Central. However, the starting pitching has been stellar. Through the first 23 games of the season, the five-man rotation posted a 2.08 ERA.
Last week: 10
Manager Dusty Baker is wondering why his club is not hitting good pitching, so he has started to shuffle the lineup. Shin-Soo Choo, however, seems just fine. The center fielder began the season by reaching base safely at least once in each of his first 22 games. That streak ended on Friday, but Choo has gotten on base in both of his games since.
Last week: 7
Detroit outscored Atlanta by a 25-7 margin during a three-game sweep over the weekend, a reminder that the Tigers are one of the most dangerous teams in the big leagues despite just a 13-10 record entering Monday.
Last week: 7
It's been just over a year since Bryce Harper made his big league debut, and he's more than lived up to the high expectations placed upon him. The second-year player leads the club in almost every offensive category, almost single-handedly keeping the Nats within striking distance of the first-place Braves in the NL East.
Last week: 8
The reigning World Series champions have lost eight of 12 since starting 9-4, plagued with erratic starting pitching and inconsistent defense. San Francisco has lost five games in a row entering Monday, but it still remains just two games behind the division-leading D-backs and the Rockies.
Last week: 3
Yoenis Cespedes is back in the lineup, and it could not come at a better time. Following three games against the Angels in Oakland, the A's embark on a 10-day road trip Friday. Since he arrived last season, Oakland's record is 90-48 when Cespedes plays and 17-32 when he doesn't.
Last week: 4
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.