Kim O'Reilly, CBS Sports

As we head to Memorial Day, it's worth wondering how many 2024 Major League Baseball teams are actually in the top tier. It isn't a large group. There are a small handful of terrible teams, some sub-par teams, a sea of mediocrity, some pretty good teams and then our upper-tier group. 

I'd describe the criteria for the upper tier as teams that have looked great so far and are very likely to continue to be great. It's still very early, but they all feel like locks for the playoffs. I've got five. 

  • The Phillies have the best record in baseball and are currently on a run in which they've won 26 of 32. They were my preseason pick to win the World Series, so, yeah, I'd say I believe they have staying power. 
  • My pick for AL champion, the Orioles, has looked the part all season as well and they are certainly in this tier. 
  • The Yankees are 14-3 this month and have been playing good baseball since the start of the season. Now that Aaron Judge is hitting like he's capable, he forms a ridiculous 2-3 punch in the lineup along with Juan Soto. They've done all this without Gerrit Cole, who is now throwing bullpen sessions in his bid to return from a spring elbow injury. 
  • The Dodgers and Braves looked like the two best teams in baseball before the season started and have both been winning at a pretty high clip. They've had rotation injuries to deal with and the Braves have their hands full in filling the Spencer Strider void. They are capable of better on offense, too, but they are still playoff bound and definitely remain a top-tier team. 

That's where I draw the line. 

I'm sure fans of the Guardians, Royals and Brewers, along with a few others, would like to argue they fit in the top tier as well, but I've got a drop-off after a clear-cut top five. The Guardians in particular have looked like a great team for a sizable portion of the 2024 season and maybe they belong above the line, but I expect them to keep playing at a 13-11 pace (their record since April 23) rather than the torrid 17-6 start. 

The good news for the teams not in the top tier? Well, the Rangers and Diamondbacks weren't in it last year and they squared off in the World Series. The number of playoff teams in this current format means it's anyone's game once we get to October. We're just as likely to see something like the Guardians against the Brewers as we are the Dodgers vs. Yankees. 

And that is, yes, a whole lotta fun. 

Now let's rank 'em. As a reminder, we do these once a week. If a team is going well and then loses five straight starting on Tuesday, you don't get to yell at me on social media about how the team should've been ranked lower. It's a snapshot in time, not a set of predictions. 

Biggest Movers
9 Astros
7 Nationals
1 Phillies Alec Bohm now has 42 RBI, which puts him on pace for 142 this season. Forget about the single-season club record, though, because Chuck Klein drove home 170 in 1930. -- 49-25
2 Dodgers The Dodgers have now won 20 of their last 26 games and have the best run differential in baseball. They have a great argument as the best team in baseball, but the Phillies just aren't losing. 1 46-30
3 Yankees The Yankees are 15-7 against teams .500 or better, giving them the most wins against such competition in the majors. 2 51-25
4 Orioles They still haven't been swept in the regular season in over two years (May 13-15, 2022). Of course, note the "regular season" caveat, because their most important series was a playoff sweep at the hands of the eventual champs last year. 2 48-25
5 Braves The 2023 Braves were the first team in MLB history to slug at least .500. This year, they rank 19th in runs scored. If this doesn't rectify itself here in the coming weeks, the Braves would drop off the first tier. They absolutely have to slug. 1 41-31
6 Guardians That was one hell of an impressive week, taking two of three from the champs in Texas before manhandling the previously hot Twins. 2 45-26
7 Royals After a breakout season in 2022 and then falling apart last year, Brady Singer might just be putting everything together this year. The former first-rounder is 4-2 with a 2.70 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 56 2/3 innings. They actually have quite a nice rotation in K.C., especially with how lights-out Seth Lugo has been. -- 41-34
8 Brewers The only Brewers player to ever win a batting title is Christian Yelich (2018 and 2019). Only four catchers have ever won a batting title. William Contreras is hitting .341 right now. 2 44-30
9 Mariners Julio Rodríguez is slugging .333 with only 14 RBI. You'd like to see a lot more from the offense as a whole, but it's gotta start with the superstar. He needs to shake his early season woes and get it going with an extended hot streak. In his last seven games, he's 12 for 28 (.429), so maybe this is it. 3 44-32
10 Rays The Rays just finished a 5-2 road trip and have a workable, nine-game homestand on tap. They could sure use more consistent work with the stick from Randy Arozarena. 6 35-39
11 Cubs The Cubs have now gone 9-13 since their 17-9 start. During that hot start, their bullpen blew a good number of games, too, and at the time I noted that it could come back to bite them. Banking those extra wins before this downturn would've been nice. 2 36-39
12 Twins In the grand scheme of things, how the wins and losses happen doesn't matter. The complete 162-game record is the record and any context behind it doesn't matter. When we're looking at the Twins right now, though, we've gotta look at them kinda sideways, right? They started 7-13, then went on a 17-3 run. Ten of those wins came against the White Sox and Angels. They won home series against the Red Sox (eh) and Mariners (pretty good!). They won on the road against a possibly broken Blue Jays team. And this week, the Twins were embarrassed by the Yankees and Guardians. As things look right now, their record actually might just be inflated by the beating up of weak teams, right? 6 41-33
13 Padres The Padres won two tough series last week and then got swept at home by the Rockies. Sorry, the Road Rockies. Pathetic. And now they've won the first two games in their series against the Braves. Mix in some consistency, Fathers. 2 38-40
14 Rangers After Sunday's loss to the Angels, the champs are now 12-14 against teams under .500. With that in mind, I suppose it's good news that they hit to road to deal with the Phillies and Twins this week? 1 34-40
15 Astros IT'S ALIVE! Left for dead by some misguided folks, the Astros have now won nine of their last 11. 9 34-40
16 Red Sox Rafael Devers has homered in five straight games. The MLB record is eight, held by Dale Long (1956), Don Mattingly (1987), and Ken Griffey Jr. (1993). 2 40-35
17 Tigers Before Friday, Javier Báez was 21 for 126 (.167) with five extra-base hits and 13 RBI in 37 games. In the next two games, he was 7 for 9 with four doubles and six RBI. It won't last, but it was fun to see a glimpse of the Javy of old for a quick second. 2 34-40
18 Giants I have to admit, I really didn't think moving Jordan Hicks into the rotation was a good idea, but he's 4-1 with a 2.38 ERA so far this season. 2 36-39
19 Diamondbacks It's May 20 and Corbin Carroll is hitting .191/.281/.272. He must get things going for the D-backs to have a successful season. -- 36-38
20 Pirates No more first-game jitters and Paul Skenes was easily the best player on the field. What an incredible performance. And they let him get to 100 pitches! Get excited, Pittsburgh. 3 36-38
21 Blue Jays Very encouraging outing from Alek Manoah on Sunday. Maybe his career is salvageable after all. I'm not so sure about the 2024 Blue Jays, though. -- 35-39
22 Mets Is this really the 2019 version of Edwin Díaz? He has completely fallen apart again. 5 35-38
23 Reds With 30 steals in 47 games, Elly De La Cruz is on pace to top the century mark. We haven't seen a 100-steal season since 1987. That would be amazing. C'mon Elly! 2 35-39
24 Cardinals They've won five of seven and are actually only 2.5 games out of playoff position. It's a good illustration of how much easier it's gotten to make the playoffs these days. 2 36-37
25 Nationals The Nats have now lost seven of eight. 7 36-37
26 Angels The Halos have won three of four and just took a series in Arlington. Good for the fans to get a brief glimmer of fun here in what'll be yet another lost season. 1 29-45
27 Athletics A few weeks ago, I got excited about the possibility of the A's rallying around a hatred for ownership, not unlike the movie Major League. They even jumped up to .500 for a quick second. They've now lost 13 of their last 15, however. The dream appears to be dead. 5 28-48
28 Rockies The seven-game winning streak -- that was unsurprisingly followed with three losses and counting -- was the Rockies' longest since they took eight straight in 2019 (May 26-June 2). 1 26-48
29 Marlins The Marlins have won five of seven and there's been an awful lot of winning this last week-plus from the dregs in some sort of weird coincidence. 1 25-49
30 White Sox The White Sox are actually not too bad at home, where they've gone 10-14 this season. On the road, however, they are a pitiful 4-19. 2 20-55