Ryan Braun and the Brewers are becoming the most hated team in baseball, but that's what happens when all you do is win. Credit: Getty Images
1. Milwaukee Brewers (15-5, previous: 2) – It was a bit of a surprise for the Brewers to get off to such a hot start, but they have been able to maintain it. It was expected their offense would lead the way, but their pitching has actually carried them as they have the second-best ERA in the NL at 2.66. One potential issue: they could be looking at some suspensions this week following their brawl with the Pirates on Sunday.
2. Oakland Athletics (13-6, previous: 1) – Oakland has continued its impressive start to the season by winning seven of its last 10 games and has posted an AL-leading plus-31 run differential. They are hitting a portion in their schedule which has them playing the Rangers or Astros in 13 straight games.
3. Atlanta Braves (13-6, previous: 3) – The Braves haven’t done much offensively this year, scoring an NL East-low 76 runs, but their pitching and defense has been exceptional, having only allowing 51 runs in 19 games. With an improved division this year, they will need to get their offense clicking at some point as they cannot rely on just their pitching.
4. Texas Rangers (12-8, previous: 16) – The Rangers have won seven of their last 10 games to quickly move up the AL West standings right behind Oakland. They’ve averaged 4.30 runs per game, sixth in the AL, and have been able to go on this winning streak without Adrian Beltre, who is on the disabled list.
5. Los Angeles Dodgers (12-8, previous: 5) – Despite all the off-field distractions surrounding Yasiel Puig, the Dodgers haven’t let that have an impact on their play on the field as they’ve won six of their last 10. Their record could be even better if they didn’t have a below .500 record at home, but give them credit for going 8-3 on the road thus far.
6. St. Louis Cardinals (11-9, previous: 4) – With the players St. Louis has it’s no surprise the defending NL Champs are right back at the top of the rankings. Everyone knows what a great and young pitching staff the Cards have, but it’s their offense that might be worth watching as they are currently 12th in the NL, averaging 3.7 runs per game.
7. New York Yankees (11-8, previous: 11) – Although the Yankees are at the top of the AL East standings and have won seven of their last 10 games, the biggest question with them is can they stay healthy? If not, will their lack of depth become an issue? They’ve already had some players go down, but do get Mark Teixeira back in time for the mid-week series with the Red Sox.
8. San Francisco Giants (11-9, previous: 6)- After 20 games the Giants have averaged four runs per game, which is surprisingly good for just 11th in the National League. As the shape of the league begins to take place it will be interesting to see if they can keep it up and go toe-to-toe with the Dodgers in the NL West.
9. Washington Nationals (11-9, previous: 7) - Everyone who follows the game knows what a tremendous young rotation the Nationals have, but through the first three weeks of the season it has been their offense that has caught people’s eyes as they’ve averaged 4.40 runs per game, the third-best mark in the NL. If they can keep up this pace they will be right there with the Braves in the NL East.
10. Colorado Rockies (11-10, previous: 21) – Colorado has used Coors Field to its advantage as it has gone 7-3 at home. Overall, the Rockies have scored 114 runs, the best in all of baseball. With this team it is just a matter of whether or not they can get the pitching to complement their offense.
11. Toronto Blue Jays (10-9, previous: 10) – Toronto is hanging in there with the rest of the AL East after three weeks, despite just going 3-3 at home. Their pitching has probably been better than anticipated, posting a team-ERA of 3.85, just above the league average. Many aren’t giving the Blue Jays much longer at the top of the division.
12. Chicago White Sox (10-10, previous: 8) – Chicago has surprised many so far this season by scoring the most runs in all of the American League, but the issue remains their pitching as they’ve also allowed the most runs. Pitching ace Chris Sale is said to be going on the disabled list, which would be a huge blow.
13. New York Mets (10-9, previous: 15) – New York has gone 4-6 at home this season, but has won six of its last 10 games. The Mets haven’t had anything stand out for them, they’ve just played consistent baseball – something we haven't seen in Queens in several years.
14. Detroit Tigers (9-7, previous: 9) – For Detroit, a 9-7 start to the season isn’t all that bad, but its lack of offense is something that's a little concerning. After being at the top of the league last year, they’ve only averaged 3.94 runs per game, 11th in the American League. With starters Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, the pitching will surely be there. It is just the hitting which could become problematic.
15. Tampa Bay Rays (9-10, previous: 14) – Even without top starters Matt Moore and Chris Archer, the Rays are hanging in there with the rest of the American League East, which is separated by just 2.5 games. As always, Joe Maddon knows how to get his team ready to play, so expect Tampa Bay to be in it through September.
16. Pittsburgh Pirates (9-11, previous: 13) – Losers of seven of its last 10, Pittsburgh isn’t playing great baseball. The Pirates have been best known for their pitching, defense and ability to win close games, but that hasn’t been the case this year as they’ve allowed a division-leading 84 runs at this point in the season.
17. Cleveland Indians (9-10, previous: 17) – Cleveland has been led by its pitching in the past, but so far this year that hasn’t been the case as they have just the 11th-best ERA in the AL at 4.11 and find themselves in the cellar in the AL Central. It is very early, so this can certainly change, but with a deep division they can’t dig themselves too deep of a hole.
18. Minnesota Twins (9-9, previous: 18) – The rate at which Minnesota’s offense is producing is a bit surprising as it has averaged the second-most runs in the American League, 5.44 through 18 games. The AL Central should be fun to watch for the entire season as all five teams can make legitimate cases for coming out on top.
19. Philadelphia Phillies (9-10, previous: 19) – Aside from Cliff Lee, the Phillies pitching has been mediocre to say they least as they have the second-worst ERA in the National League, which also plays a role in their minus-14 run differential, the lowest in the NL East.
20. Kansas City Royals (9-9, previous: 27) – Winning five of its last 10 games has quickly moved Kansas City up the rankings, despite being in the bottom third in the AL in runs scored. This will obviously need to change for the Royals to contend in the AL Central.
21. Baltimore Orioles (9-9, previous: 20) – There is no question the Orioles can hit, as they have averaged 4.18 runs per game, and that is without Manny Machado, who is currently rehabbing in extended spring training. The issue for the O's remains their pitching, especially the bullpen, as they blew one game and nearly another against the Red Sox over the weekend.
22. Los Angeles Angels (9-10, previous: 22) – Being three games below .500 at home hasn’t done the Angels any favors to open the year. They have averaged the third-most runs per game in the AL at 5.32, but will need their pitching to come together as they hope to challenge the A’s and Rangers in the AL West.
23. San Diego Padres (9-10, previous: 23) – Scoring 2.8 runs per game isn’t going to cut it, but surprisingly the Padres have still won nine games, so it shows that their pitching has been there, at least.
24. Boston Red Sox (9-11, previous: 24) – The identity of the Red Sox is starting to form as they have started to play like they did last season, working opposition starters' pitch counts and taking advantage of bullpens to win games. Although they are near the bottom of the AL in runs scored it is something which should fix itself in the next week or so with the a few players returning from injury.
25. Miami Marlins (9-11, previous: 26) – The Marlins have yet to win an away game, going 0-7 on the road, but overall they have been performing well offensively, averaging 4.8 runs a game, which is the second-highest in the National League. As they’ve learned in the past, you need to get decent pitching to win games as offense isn’t everything.
26. Cincinnati Reds (8-11, previous: 28) – After a difficult first two weeks of the season the Reds have turned things around like many expected them to. They will get another boost when their No. 1 starter, Mat Latos, comes off the DL, which should be sooner rather than later.
27. Seattle Mariners (7-12, previous: 12) – The Mariners are in an early-season slump, losing seven in a row and nine of their last 10. Even with the signing of Robinson Cano, Seattle is at the bottom of the AL in runs scored, averaging 3.63 runs per game.
28. Houston Astros (6-14, previous: 25) – Bad offense has been one of the biggest reasons for the Astros' six wins as they only average 3.77 runs per game and their minus-36 run differential is by far the worst in the AL. It will be tough for Houston to build any momentum as it has four games against the A’s on tap this week.
29. Chicago Cubs (6-12, previous: 29) – Chicago has lost seven of its last 10 games and has scored an NL Central low 63 runs this season, leading to a minus-14 run differential - the only minus mark in their division.
30. Arizona Diamondbacks (5-17, previous: 30) – Having a pitching staff with an ERA over 5.00 just over three weeks into the season isn’t going to get it done, which is why the Diamondbacks currently have a MLB-leading 17 losses.
*All stats and records are as of Tuesday, April 22.
Follow Metro sports writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter@Hannable84