Tampa Bay Rays celebrate after a successful beginning to the new season, entering the 2023 MLB Opener.
As week two of the MLB Opening comes to a close, Baseball fans can understand where their team stands. While many fans may be ecstatic to see their team’s position, some are disappointed. Whatever the case, the new landscape of baseball — particularly from the recently implemented rule changes — will unquestionably add excitement to the game regardless of where your team stands.
Without a doubt, the team that has had the hottest start to the year thus far is the Tampa Bay Rays. Starting out at 10-0, the first undefeated team since the 1987 Milwaukee Brewers, the Rays have most certainly captured the eyes of many. From the tremendous pitching of Jason Adam to the hitting and fielding of Taylow Wals and Brandon Lowe, the squad will surely be a competitive group to watch come October. However, a new team has taken up first in the newly released MLB Power Rankings: the Atlanta Braves. For any baseball enthusiast, this should come as no surprise. With Ronald Acuña and Ozzie Albies, the Braves have a deep lineup. Acuña has already been touted as one of the best ballplayers in all of the MLB, with a tremendous fielding ability, and a perhaps even more impressive baserunning ability — particularly due to the new rule changes — the 25 year old Venezuaela-native is a force to be reckoned with. Additionally, the relatively young squad has a recent post-season victory in 2021 which undoubtedly hangs in recent memory.
Additionally, the usual suspects of New York — the New York Yankees and New York Mets — look poised for a deep postseason run. The Brewers and the Toronto Blue Jays have both gotten hot starts as well, and it will be interesting to see how both squads respectively shape themselves throughout the season. After all, if you have either Christian Yelich or Vladdy Guerro Jr. on your team, how bad can you be?
Of course, we can’t count out the former reigning champs. With a star-studded lineup of Yordan Alvarez, Jose Altuve, Jeremy Peña, and Alex Bregman, the Houston Astros have the ability and experience to go all the way. While they have gotten off to a rocky start by losing their series against the Texas Rangers (another team to look out for in the American West), the Astros have traditionally been a slow team to start off, so expect them to get up and running when we are deep in July.
However, as a team that spent over a billion dollars in the offseason, I expect the San Diego Padres to be a serious contender. With, in my opinion, the most loaded lineup in all of baseball, they have the potential to win it all this year. Although, I fear that their standings throughout the season, and their star power, may be hampered by the fact that they lack chemistry. Sure, they might be loaded, have a gold glover at third with Manny Machado, one of the best players in the game with Juan Soto, and newly acquired star Xander Boggarts — not even mentioning anything about Fernando Tatís Jr., who hit a whopping eight for eight in his minor league stint coming off a PED suspension — but their lineup is a patchwork of stars from across the leagues, whose attitudes and play styles may not materialize well with each other. As the season unfolds, I will be curious if this enigma of a club can bring it together and see if they have what it takes to make a run for a ring.
Of course, positions, standings, and the abilities of teams will change dramatically throughout the year, as they should. Regardless, a preview of what we have seen from the first two weeks of the season may offer valuable insight into a window to this upcoming October.