MLB Power Rankings Week 4: Has a new team surged to our No. 1 spot?

Jeff McNeil, Aaron Judge and Taylor Ward ESPN

Four weeks into the MLB season, we've seen coast-to-coast domination -- as New York and the Los Angeles area are each home to a pair of division leaders.

Have the New York Yankees, New York Mets or Los Angeles Angels beaten out the Los Angeles Dodgers -- who have sat at the top of our rankings for the first three weeks of the season -- for the No. 1 spot?

Our expert panel has combined to rank every team in baseball based on a combination of what we've seen so far and what we already knew going into the 162-game marathon that is a full baseball season. We also asked ESPN MLB experts David Schoenfield, Bradford Doolittle, Joon Lee, Jesse Rogers and Alden Gonzalez to weigh in with an early observation for all 30 teams.

Week 3 | Preseason rankings

1. New York Yankees

Record: 18-7

Previous ranking: 5

Since invoking panic among the fan base with a 5-5 start to the season, the Yankees are now flourishing. Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo are smashing baseballs out of the ballpark while infielders Isiah Kiner-Falefa and DJ LeMahieu shine at the plate. Gerrit Cole seems to be finding his footing after a handful of shaky outings while the rest of the rotation between Jameson Taillon, Jordan Montgomery, Nestor Cortes and Luis Severino have picked up slack. -- Lee

2. Los Angeles Dodgers

Record: 16-7

Previous ranking: 1

The Dodgers have been right up there with the Mets as the best team in the National League through the first four weeks, and it seems as if they haven't hit their stride yet. Mookie Betts, Trea Turner, Justin Turner and Max Muncy -- who usually make up the top six spots in the lineup -- have all struggled at a time when offense is remarkably down throughout the sport. And yet the Dodgers possess the highest run-differential in the majors. Pitching has mostly carried them, but the Dodgers boast a lineup that can rival the greatest throughout history. At some point, that will show up. -- Gonzalez

3. New York Mets

Record: 18-9

Previous ranking: 4

With roster sizes going from 28 to 26, the Mets designated Robinson Cano for assignment, electing to keep Travis Jankowski, who offers speed and defense in the outfield. Cano was 8-for-41 (.195) with one home run, so he hadn't been given much regular playing time. But with Jeff McNeil hitting .337 there was no room at second base. Somebody might give Cano one last chance (see Albert Pujols, who has been on two teams since the Angels released him), but Cano's career -- once destined for the Hall of Fame and 3,000 hits before two PED suspensions -- may be over. -- Schoenfield

4. San Francisco Giants

Record: 14-10

Previous ranking: 2

Here's a list of the position players who were unavailable when the Giants began a series at Dodger Stadium earlier this week: Brandon Belt, Evan Longoria, Tommy La Stella, Steven Duggar, LaMonte Wade Jr., Mike Yastrzemski. That's six guys counted on for regular or semi-regular playing time. And yet the Giants continue to play quality baseball games and sit near the top of the NL standings. They're that deep. They're that good at maximizing matchups. And they're seemingly going to be a force again. -- Gonzalez

5. Milwaukee Brewers

Record: 17-8

Previous ranking: 10

If Milwaukee can continue to get good innings from Eric Lauer, Adrian Houser and Aaron Ashby, then watch out for the Brew Crew. Last year, Milwaukee's starting pitching was basically three deep. That no longer looks to be the case. Lauer struck out 11 Cubs on Saturday, one week after striking out 14 Phillies. Add a bullpen led by April reliever of the month Josh Hader and Milwaukee won't have to score that many runs to make the playoffs in a weak NL Central. -- Rogers

6. Toronto Blue Jays

Record: 16-10

Previous ranking: 3

The Blue Jays continue to look like one of the better teams in baseball, but they haven't hit their ceiling yet due to the struggles of shortstop Bo Bichette at the plate. Santiago Espinal has been one of the team's surprises early in the season, nailing down the second base job by hitting .247/.311/.407. The late-inning trio of Tim Mayza, Adam Cimber and Jordan Romano has been one of the best in baseball so far this season. -- Lee

7. San Diego Padres

Record: 16-9

Previous ranking: 9

Mike Clevinger finally returned from Tommy John surgery on Wednesday, and now the Padres have the type of problem that would make the rest of the sport envious: Too many starting pitchers. Clevinger is the sixth member of a star-studded rotation that also includes Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove, Sean Manaea, Nick Martinez and MacKenzie Gore, the 23-year-old former first-round pick who is thriving in the major leagues. Soon, Blake Snell will join this staff too, an embarrassment of riches for a team looking to chase down the Giants and Dodgers in a difficult division. If their starters remain healthy, the Padres might be able to use some of that depth to access some much-needed outfield help. -- Gonzalez

8. Los Angeles Angels

Record: 16-10

Previous ranking: 13

Here's a name you probably didn't give much thought to at the start of the season: Taylor Ward. You might remember him. He was the No. 26 overall pick as a catcher in 2015, but he struggled to find his footing in the major leagues and at times it seemed as if he never would. Late last year, though, Ward flattened out his swing path, stopped trying to lift the baseball and began to excel in the upper minors. This year, he has been one of the sport's finest hitters, settling into an everyday corner-outfield job and the leadoff spot of an offense that looks potent with him atop it. -- Gonzalez

9. Tampa Bay Rays

Record: 15-10

Previous ranking: 6

The Rays dropped two of three games to the Minnesota Twins over the weekend and the offense has struggled on the whole, with Randy Arozarena, Brandon Lowe and Mike Zunino floundering among the regular contributors. Wander Franco continues to look like one of the best players in baseball, leading the team in WAR through the early part of the season. -- Lee

10. St. Louis Cardinals

Record: 14-10

Previous ranking: 8

St. Louis continues to spin its wheels. After splitting a four-game series with the Mets last week, they did the same with the Diamondbacks. At times, the Cardinals look like they're ready to take off only to sputter on offense. They were shut out twice last week alone. Nolan Arenado is one hitter who isn't struggling. His OPS was up last week, as was Paul Goldschmidt's -- after a slow start. St. Louis has been too inconsistent in the early going, which is why it finds themselves in second place behind Milwaukee. -- Rogers

11. Minnesota Twins

Record: 15-10

Previous ranking: 17

If not for the rampaging Yankees, the Twins would be widely anointed as the hottest-right-now team in baseball. With an 11-2 surge, Minnesota's start has gone from uneven to unbelievable, as the Twins have raced to an early lead in an AL Central that is otherwise struggling. The key to the strong play has been, well, everything. Over the 12-game span before Wednesday's loss to the Orioles, Minnesota ranked among the top clubs in the majors in scoring and run prevention. On Friday, the Twins return home for a nine-game homestand where they have a chance to put some real distance between them and the rest of the division. -- Doolittle

12. Houston Astros

Record: 14-11

Previous ranking: 12

Dusty Baker made history when he recorded his 2,000th win as a manager on Tuesday, becoming the 12th skipper to reach that mark. Baker seems a likely Hall of Famer, however, he has one hole on his résumé: A World Series crown as a manager. Of the 24 managers with at least 1,500 career wins, only two others have not won a title. One is the late Gene Mauch. The other is Buck Showalter, who so far has guided the Mets to the NL's best record. A lot has to happen of course, but it's certainly within the realm of possibility that Baker and Showalter could find themselves in opposing dugouts when this year's Fall Classic rolls around in October. -- Doolittle

13. Atlanta Braves

Record: 12-15

Previous ranking: 11

The doubleheader loss at the hands of the Mets on Tuesday ensured the Braves wouldn't win the series, meaning they have won just one of their first eight of the season. Charlie Morton lost the opener as he continues to scuffle at 1-3 with a 6.85 ERA and an 18-to-14 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The velocity is fine and, to be fair, he's given up soft contact that has gone for hits, but the command, especially on his curveball, hasn't been there and his swing-and-miss rate is way down from 2021. -- Schoenfield

14. Seattle Mariners

Record: 12-13

Previous ranking: 7

The Mariners' two big offseason acquisitions were Cy Young winner Robbie Ray and outfielder Jesse Winker. Ray is 2-2 with a 4.15 ERA -- not terrible, but not great. His average fastball velocity remains more than 2 mph lower than 2021 while his strikeout rate has dropped from an eye-popping 32.1% to a below-average 20.8%. Winker, meanwhile, is drawing walks but was hitting .186 through Wednesday and yet to homer. He's hit into a lot of tough luck: His expected average based on quality of contact is .326, but he isn't getting the ball in the air. -- Schoenfield

15. Miami Marlins

Record: 12-12

Previous ranking: 22

Pablo Lopez finally surrendered his first home run and allowed more runs in Monday's loss to the Diamondbacks, but what a great first month for him: 3-1, 1.61 ERA, .190 average allowed. While he has a five-pitch repertoire, one thing he's done this year is rely more on a four-seam fastball/changeup combo. He threw those two pitches a combined 64.3% of the time last season, but is at 76.9% this season. And he's getting hitters to chase the changeup, a key to both his high chase and soft contact rates. -- Schoenfield

16. Philadelphia Phillies

Record: 11-14

Previous ranking: 18

Bryce Harper hasn't played the field since April 16 due to a strain in his right elbow. Has that been affecting his hitting? The offensive numbers are fine, although not at his MVP level of 2021. He appears to be affected by the mushy ball as his hard-hit rate and average exit velocity are essentially the same as 2021; he's just not doing the same damage. The weird thing is his walk rate is way down, from 16.7% to 6.6% -- in part because his swing rate and first-pitch swing rate in particular are up. Hard to know if that's something to do with the elbow or if he just thinks with Nick Castellanos behind him he's going to get more pitches to hit. -- Schoenfield

17. Chicago White Sox

Record: 11-13

Previous ranking: 16

The White Sox's offense has been one of the majors' most disappointing units over the first weeks of the 2022 season. A lineup projected to again rank among the elite instead is 27th in runs scored. What happens from here might simply be a matter of answering this question: How much of these struggles are simply due to bad luck? According to Statcast, Chicago ranks ninth in expected wOBA (.344). But in terms of actual wOBA, the White Sox are 25th (.282). That shortfall (minus-.062) is by far the largest in the majors. -- Doolittle

18. Colorado Rockies

Record: 14-10

Previous ranking: 14

German Marquez was expected to anchor the Rockies' staff but is navigating a brutal stretch, posting a 9.00 ERA and allowing five home runs in the 19 innings that have followed an impressive debut against the Dodgers. On Tuesday, Marquez allowed seven runs on 10 hits in five innings against a bad Nationals lineup and later expressed frustration that his new strategy for 2022 -- largely to use a four-seam fastball to attack right-handed hitters on the inside part of the plate more frequently -- wasn't yet paying off. -- Gonzalez

19. Boston Red Sox

Record: 10-15

Previous ranking: 15

Aside from the trio of Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers and J.D. Martinez, the Red Sox offense has struggled to gain much traction, hitting .231/.282/.352 as a team so far while Boston fans are not thrilled about the performance of big-ticket free-agent Trevor Story, who has struggled to the tune of a .221/.307/.312 batting line this year. The pitching staff has been one of the bright spots, with Michael Wacha flourishing so far this season with a 1.38 ERA in five starts. -- Lee

20. Cleveland Guardians

Record: 11-13

Previous ranking: 19

Cleveland is off to an up-and-down start but Guardians fans have at least gotten to see peak Jose Ramirez. Through his first 22 games, Ramirez was hitting .341/.421/.707 with seven homers, seven doubles and 28 RBIs. Each of those numbers set new career highs for the 22-game mark. The scary thing for Cleveland opponents is that Ramirez is typically a slow starter. His aggregate OPS for the first 22 games of previous seasons is .789 during his career; from games 23 forward, it's .879. Ramirez already has three top-five finishes in AL MVP balloting. He's poised to be in that conversation once again. -- Doolittle

21. Chicago Cubs

Record: 9-15

Previous ranking: 23

The Cubs offense dropped down to Earth after a nice start. Good, right-handed pitching will stymie them this year, though the performance by Brewers' lefty Eric Lauer over the weekend also held them down. The Cubs scored just four runs in a three-game series loss at Milwaukee with Nick Madrigal and April rookie of the month, Seiya Suzuki, both struggling. Suzuki had trouble against both hard and soft pitching, despite dominating the league early on. -- Rogers

22. Oakland Athletics

Record: 10-15

Previous ranking: 20

Oakland has been up and down so far, starting the season with an 8-6 record but struggling over the course of the last few series, highlighted by a three-game sweep at the hands of the Guardians. A bright spot has been third baseman Sheldon Neuse, who is hitting .313/.375/.438 and taking the reins of the starting gig with Kevin Smith on the injured list. Meanwhile, Paul Blackburn ranks among some of the best pitchers in all of baseball in WAR. -- Lee

23. Arizona Diamondbacks

Record: 13-13

Previous ranking: 28

The D-backs began their season with a 6-11 record and seemed as if they were heading towards another 100-plus-loss season. But they have found their footing of late, winning seven of their past nine games to creep back to .500. Their starting pitchers have lifted them, with Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly and Madison Bumgarner combining for a 1.34 ERA in 73⅔ innings. -- Gonzalez

24. Detroit Tigers

Record: 8-15

Previous ranking: 21

It's been a nightmarish encore for two of the Tigers' success stories last season. Entering 2021, journeyman catcher Eric Haase had six career hits through age 27. He became an invaluable utility player for Detroit with a .745 OPS and 22 homers. Meanwhile, Akil Baddoo went from the Rule V draft to a .766 rookie-season OPS and near everyday duty in the Tigers' outfield. So far in 2022, both breakout players are hitting below .150 with slugging percentages below .250. -- Doolittle

25. Texas Rangers

Record: 10-14

Previous ranking: 26

Texas showed some signs of life over the weekend, winning a series against the world champion Braves after losing three of four at home to division rival Houston. Marcus Semien's struggles continue to be a storyline, as he went 1-for-19 over a seven-day span that ended Tuesday. Semien hit 45 home runs last year but has yet to go long this season. The Rangers did have better pitching last week, moving them up the ladder a few spots in ERA, though they still rank in the bottom five. -- Rogers

26. Kansas City Royals

Record: 8-15

Previous ranking: 24

Even during an ice cold start at the plate of his big league career, Bobby Witt Jr. shined in the field and on the basepaths for the Royals. After his average dipped to .128 after his 10th game, he then went on a hitting streak that ended at 11 games on Tuesday, when Witt hit his first big league homer off St. Louis' Dakota Hudson. During the spree, Witt hit .342 over those 11 games. Also, with the heart-wrenching, season-ending knee injury suffered by Adalberto Mondesi, it's only a matter of time before Witt makes his debut at shortstop, where he figures to eventually be entrenched. -- Doolittle

27. Pittsburgh Pirates

Record: 10-14

Previous ranking: 25

The Pirates lost five of their past seven games after starting the season above .500. They hit .204 and produced just one home run in six games before Wednesday's win over Detroit, but their biggest problems come on the mound. Before Wednesday, the Pirates rotation was 0-10 with a 5.86 ERA on the season. Their team ERA hovered around 5.00 last week, hence a losing week in the standings. -- Rogers

28. Baltimore Orioles

Record: 9-16

Previous ranking: 29

Baltimore had a strong weekend against the Red Sox with a walk-off win on Saturday and a season-high nine runs scored on Sunday. Anthony Santander has been one of the standouts on offense, compiling a .408 OBP early in the season. Closer Jose Lopez has looked strong, posting a 1.59 ERA, 1.06 WHP and 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings in 11⅓ innings pitched. -- Lee

29. Washington Nationals

Record: 9-17

Previous ranking: 27

They snapped an eight-game losing streak by taking two of three in San Francisco, so that was good. But really, we're already in the "Let's just talk about Juan Soto" phase of the season. He has five home runs, but just six RBIs, so that's weird. His average exit velocity is down from 93.0 mph to 89.6, as he's been hitting more weak grounders than normal, so that's a little surprising (he's actually making more contact when chasing, which explains the weak contact). He's hitting just .200 against lefties compared to .280 last season, so that's the main reason the batting average is a little low right now. In other words, a bit of a slow start and his OPS+ is still 159. -- Schoenfield

30. Cincinnati Reds

Record: 3-21

Previous ranking: 30

The Reds broke a long losing streak then promptly began another one, getting swept by the Padres and Rockies last week. They did enough on offense to win a few games -- playing in Colorado will do that -- but pitching was a big problem. The Reds compiled a 9.55 ERA over their last six games. Hunter Greene, Tyler Mahle and Vladimir Gutierrez all got hammered, though Connor Overton produced a solid effort in Denver. He was about the only one. -- Rogers