Is the curse of the top spot in the rankings back? I fear it might be and I have no idea how to properly harness my karmic powers.
For those unaware, back in 2016 the juggernaut Cubs held down the top spot with relative ease through the middle of June. They then lost six of seven before three wins and then lost nine of their next 10. They obviously relinquished their top spot during the first part of the bad stretch. What happened for the following six weeks was amazing. I’d promote a different team to the coveted top spot and said team would then go through a dreadful week and lose the spot. No team spent more than a week atop those rankings in 2016 except the Cubs, who took it back for good in August.
It might be happening again.
I started the Red Sox at the top of our offseason rankings. They are now 6-10 and stinking of a heavy hangover.
I had the Yankees in the top spot coming into the regular season. They have a startling lineup on the injured list and sit a not-so-nice 6-9.
After the first week, I had the Phillies at the top. They’ve gone 5-5 since their 4-0 start.
Last week, I had the 8-2 Dodgers at the top and felt pretty good about it. A six-game losing streak ensued.
Putting aside my tongue-in-cheek curse powers, it is interesting that nearly every expected contender has had a bad stretch. I just mentioned four of them. How about:
- The Indians were just swept by the Royals.
- The Astros started the season 2-5.
- The A’s have already had a four-game losing streak.
- The Mets have gone 4-5 since their 5-1 start.
- The Nationals started 1-3.
- The Braves started 0-3.
- The Brewers were swept in Anaheim.
- The Cardinals started 1-3 and then 3-5.
- The Cubs started 1-6.
- The Rockies are 4-12.
The Rays started the season with a seven-game homestand against two 2018 playoff teams and went 5-2. They went to the West Coast and took two of three from the Giants before a cold-weather sweep on the South Side of Chicago and then winning two of three north of the border.
At 12-4, the Rays have the best record in baseball. Perhaps best of all? They haven’t lost two games in a row all season. Only once did they even lose two games within a three-game span. They have the best ERA in baseball, an offense performing above average and they’ve seen what figures to be their two chief competitors in the division get off to terrible starts. They also seem to even be developing a swagger.
At some point, the Rays will face adversity this season. It’s inevitable. Every team does. The biggest test on the young season is coming sooner than they might have imagined. They get to stare down the dreaded Snyder Power Rankings curse here heading to April 15.
Yes, Rays, you are No. 1. We’ll see how long you can avoid the backslide.
Fans in the Tampa region can stream Rays games via fuboTV (Try for free).
|The Red Sox haven’t looked good at all, but they have a lot of talent. The Rays play those Red Sox six times before the end of the months and that presents the boys from St. Pete with quite the opportunity.||3||12-4|
|That’s now nine in a row since they first returned home and Alex Bregman said it was a clean slate and they were actually 0-0 and not 2-5. His logic worked.||3||11-5|
|OK, so that was quite the disheartening weekend in Seattle, but they still lead the majors with 13 wins. They aren’t the Astros, but everyone should have already known that.||7||13-5|
|Last week I praised Zach Eflin and this week he got torched by the Marlins. Good call, Matt!||1||9-5|
|Their staff ERA is 5.27. With Corbin Burnes in the rotation while Jeremy Jeffress and Corey Knebel are hurt, you have to worry about the shape of the bullpen in front of Josh Hader, too.||3||10-6|
|Winners of six of their last seven, the Cardinals now have a chance to take first place from the Brewers in head-to-head fashion in Milwaukee.||9||9-6|
|The rotation will start to settle in and they’ll end up holding down first place with relative ease soon enough. What a weirdly placed six-game losing streak, though. Makes you think, right? [Insert Snyder’s evil laugh]||6||9-8|
|The Braves should just point out that March games shouldn’t count. They are now 9-3 in April.||6||9-6|
|Jacob deGrom’s last two starts: 9 IP, 13 H, 9 ER, 5 BB, 5 HR. Uh oh.||2||9-6|
|Byron Buxton — who has the tools to be the best defensive and baserunning player in the league — is hitting .324/.378/.559. Giddyup!||2||8-4|
|The first-place Padres have already gotten five homers from phenom Fernando Tatis Jr. This is all kinds of fun.||2||11-6|
|They could probably stand to stop giving Joakim Soria high-leverage spots for a bit, no?||1||10-9|
|The Nats are now 1-3 in Max Scherzer’s starts this season.||1||7-7|
|That was a 3-2 week with much better pitching overall, both in the rotation and bullpen. They’re still playing inconsistent baseball, but we’ve seen enough to know this isn’t a bad team. Now we need to see if they can show they are a good team. Six games this week against the Marlins and Diamondbacks should help. Less than four wins isn’t acceptable if this is a good team.||3||5-9|
|They could sure stand to see a reliever other than Felipe Vazquez prove to be effective. The rotation looks great.||4||8-6|
|They lost five in a row and then won six in a row.||7||8-7|
|Being swept in Houston is one thing. Losing two of three at home to the White Sox is quite another. It’s not all injuries, either.||11||6-9|
|After being swept by the Royals, the Indians now have to deal with the Mariners (three times), Braves (three) and Astros (four) before the end of the month. Gulp.||9||8-7|
|The Red Sox lost their 10th game last year on May 8. This year? April 13.||3||6-10|
|Elvis Andrus has become a wrecking crew after watching his buddy Adrian Beltre retire. The shortstop is hitting .414/.433/.655 right now.||—||7-7|
|That 4-1 week had to make them feel better, but now comes a tough seven-game trip to Los Angeles and San Diego. Time to step up and make good on the upside that had many picking this squad for a breakout.||9||5-9|
|This week’s version of team toughest to read: The D-Backs have won series against the Red Sox and Padres while having lost series to the Dodgers and Padres. They split with the Rangers. Good luck figuring out how good these guys are just based on that.||1||7-9|
|As a team, the Giants are hitting .208/.268/.328. OH WAIT, that was the line *before* they were one-hit by German Marquez on Sunday.||4||7-10|
|The descent with this group was going to happen. It was a matter of when, not if. They’ve now lost four of five so I’m thinking the answer is “now.”||6||8-7|
|They had lost 10 in a row before pulling off a sweep of the Indians. Baseball is weird.||4||5-10|
|Eloy Jimenez hit his first two career homers last Friday night. Now the floodgates should open, no?||1||5-9|
|Through 10 starts combined, Marcus Stroman (1.99), Aaron Sanchez (1.69) and Matt Shoemaker (0.92) all have a sub-2.00 ERA and this team is still 5-11.||1||5-11|
|Dreadful. Just dreadful. At least they have German Marquez taking another huge step forward.||6||4-12|
|Since that 4-1 start, the Orioles are 2-9. Some things do make sense.||5||6-10|
|The Marlins have dropped 10 of their last 12. Right on schedule.||2||4-12|