Kim O'Reilly, CBS Sports

As we sit here in an interesting point in the season -- still a small sample, but not tiny enough to totally dismiss -- I think we could stand to take a quick trip back in the past. One year ago, to be specific. The same number of days into the 2023 season as we've banked so far puts us on April 23, 2023. 

Here were some interesting records at this point last season along with where the team ended up once the 162-game slate was finished. 

  • Pirates, 16-7 (best record in NL). They would finish 76-86. 
  • Yankees, 13-9 (playoff position). That's a 96-win pace. The Yankees would finish 82-80 and miss the playoffs. 
  • Mets, 14-9 (playoff position). They'd finish 75-87. 
  • Dodgers, 12-11. Despite what appeared to be a middling start, the Dodgers won 100 games. 
  • Phillies, 11-12. They'd end up 90-72. 
  • Reds, 7-15. No, the Reds didn't make the playoffs, but after a terrible start to the season, they'd sit in first place for 32 days, as late as Aug. 2. They finished 82-80. 

Examples like this along with many, many other reasons are why I can't help but chuckle when people bust me up on social media for not believing in certain teams simply because they are off to a great start. 

The biggest complaints right now are coming from the shores of Lake Erie. The Cleveland Guardians are 16-6 and that's the best record in the majors. And yet, I haven't been ranking them in the top three or even top five (until now). Why not? 

Well, I just don't think they are that good and there are four teams I've very confident are better right now. 

It know it sounds simplistic and surface-level, so I'll go a bit deeper. 

First off, they are 6-1 against the A's. I know the A's aren't as atrocious as last year, but they aren't a good baseball team, either. The Guardians are also 2-1 against the hapless White Sox, meaning half of their wins are against two of the worst teams in baseball. They have some impressive series wins, such as in Seattle (well, maybe not too impressive with the way the Mariners have been playing), in Minnesota (well, maybe not too impressive with the way the Twins are playing) and in Boston. 

In terms of personnel, I don't see much reason to change my tune. The rotation isn't going to hold up much longer. Shane Bieber is hurt, Triston McKenzie has more walks than strikeouts and his velocity is down. Carlos Carrasco is 37. Tanner Bibee hasn't been overly good and Logan Allen isn't good. Offensively, yeah, José Ramírez is better than he's been playing and he'll get hot soon enough, but Josh Naylor and Steven Kwan are due to regress, and I still find the group as a whole uninspiring. 

So, sure, I'll reward the Guardians by moving them up based on body of work, but I'm not buying them long-term this season. If you look up to the 2023 records I posted above, the Guardians are my vote to be this year's Pirates. And while it seems like we've been watching a lot of baseball, the Guardians have still only played 13.5% of their season (roughly the equivalent of being early in the second quarter in the third game of an NFL season). 

I do have some advice for Guardians fans who might be strenuously objecting right now: Ignore people like me and enjoy your team. I could totally be wrong about them, anyway. It wouldn't be the first time and it won't be the last. 

Biggest Movers
9 Phillies
15 Pirates
1 Braves Several key members of the offense (Ronald Acuña Jr., Austin Riley, Matt Olson) are capable of much better and the Braves still keep winning. Marcell Ozuna is a big part of that, leading the majors with nine homers and 27 RBI. 1 26-16
2 Orioles The Orioles have won six of their last seven games and have outscored the opposition 46-29 in doing so. 4 29-15
3 Yankees In putting them at the top last week, I noted the strong possibility that they'd only be there one week. Sure enough, they lost three in a row. Still, they haven't fallen apart or anything and won a series over the Rays at home to conclude this past week. 2 33-15
4 Phillies Here they come? Hmm ... That's a six-game winning streak, but it was all at home against the Rockies and White Sox. Good teams take care of business like that, but it's hard to tell if they are truly hot or were just beating up on weaklings. We'll go with "both." They haven't lost a series since April 3. 9 34-14
5 Guardians After hosting the Red Sox for three games, the Guardians hit the road to take on the Braves and Astros. If they steamroll through this portion of the schedule, I might start becoming a believer. 3 30-17
6 Brewers You cannot praise the Brewers enough for how they've handled adversity since the beginning of spring training. The latest would be the injury of Christian Yelich. They are 5-3 without him, so far. 2 27-19
7 Cubs They're in perfectly fine shape, as they are playing at a 96-win pace. That's including closer Adbert Alzolay turning four wins into losses. You can't assume perfection, but even if he was 5 for 7 in saves instead of 3 for 7, the Cubs would be 15-7. The entire bullpen is thin, too. Jed Hoyer must address this. The rest of the team is too good to see their wins wiped away. -- 26-22
8 Dodgers Since that 7-2 start, the Dodgers have won one series and lost four of them, including at home to the Nationals. This is, however, the exact same record they had last season at this point and that team won 100. 5 32-17
9 Rangers The schedule is relatively weak for the next month or so. My hunch is they're going to get hot and build a nice lead in the AL West. 1 24-24
10 Blue Jays The Jays have won six of eight, and how about José Berríos? Not only is he back to All-Star form, he might be the All-Star Game starter right now. 7 20-25
11 Mets Remember when the Mets were 0-5 and getting no-hit in the second game of a doubleheader? Since then, they've gone 12-4. Their situational hitting has been impressive, especially with runners in scoring position and two outs (.314 before Sunday's blowout loss). 9 21-25
12 Royals This is curious: The Royals are 6-1 against the White Sox and 7-8 against everyone else. 3 29-19
13 Rays The top of the order has to come around soon, right? Yandy Diaz is hitting .221/.265/.295 with Randy Arozarena slashing .157/.231/.241 right behind him. It's hard to win many with the top two spots in the order floundering like that. 1 25-23
14 Red Sox This pitching is ridiculous! The Red Sox have a staff ERA of 2.52, easily the best in baseball. 2 23-24
15 Padres They certainly don't miss Josh Hader. Robert Suarez has been amazing and is 7 for 7 in save chances. -- 24-24
16 Mariners The Mariners just went nine scoreless innings in Coors Field on Sunday. A contender has got to hit better than that. Still, they had a good week overall. 8 25-22
17 Reds Elly De La Cruz and Spencer Steer have been crushing the ball, but overall the Reds are capable of much more, offensively. And yet, they are 12-9. 5 19-28
18 Tigers Surely they'll start hitting for more power, right? The Tigers only have 15 home runs all season. -- 23-23
19 Diamondbacks Ketel Marte is putting up monster numbers, but Corbin Carroll is hitting only .216/.330/.273. He'll get it going soon enough. For now, consider the Snakes lying in the weeds before freeing themselves in the coming weeks. 8 22-25
20 Pirates It didn't take long to unravel that 9-2 start. They've lost six straight. 15 22-26
21 Astros We're getting into the range where it's gotta be at least a little bit concerning. The Astros are now 7-16 and just lost a series to the Nationals. They are 4-9 at home and 3-7 on the road. 2 21-26
22 Cardinals The biggest issue last year was starting pitching. This season, they've already lost five games in which their starters allowed two or fewer runs. 1 20-26
23 Twins The Twins are in the ballpark for the most disappointing team of 2024 to this point. The offense is putrid. They are hitting .195 as a team. 1 24-22
24 Nationals Taking series over the Dodgers and Astros in one week is pretty damn impressive -- and rather funny, considering they just lost a series to the A's. Baseball! 2 20-25
25 Giants Patrick Bailey has now played in only 114 career major-league games. He's underrated, nationally, and appears to be a top-tier catcher already. 2 23-25
26 Angels They were 7-6 at one point. The Halos have lost seven of nine since then. Right on schedule, depressingly. 3 18-29
27 Athletics They didn't win their eighth game until May 6 last season. They had 26 losses at the time. Progress! 2 19-30
28 Marlins You know who looks really impressive? Right-handed reliever Calvin Faucher, who has now worked 5 2/3 scoreless innings with eight strikeouts, zero walks and only three hits allowed. 1 15-33
29 Rockies The Marlins started 0-9 and the White Sox are historically bad. Just don't lose the Rockies in the shuffle. They are pretty atrocious in their own right. 1 15-31
30 White Sox How embarrassing. Good lord, they are pathetic. -- 14-33