Braves vs. Athletics: Who Is the Early Favorite for Best Team in MLB?

Gary Ousdahl@@GaryOusdahlCorrespondent IIApril 18, 2013

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 17: Mike Minor #36 of the Atlanta Braves pitches against the Kansas City Royals at Turner Field on April 17, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

According to's weekly Major League Baseball power rankings, the Atlanta Braves and the Oakland Athletics are the two top teams at this early point in the 2013 season.  So who is the better team, and who will continue to excel as the season goes on?

The Braves are currently hitting and pitching just as good, if not better, than any team in baseball.  Led by the offense of outfielder Justin Upton, catcher Evan Gattis, infielder Chris Johnson and infielder Juan Francisco, the Braves are currently ranked fourth in Major League Baseball in slugging (.458), 10th in runs (68), 16th in batting average (.254) and 14th in on-base percentage (.324).  And though these stats as a team don't seem extraordinary, it's really the Braves pitching that is currently at the top of its game.

Led by the magnificent pitching of Paul Maholm (3-0, 0.00 ERA, 20 K's), Mike Minor (2-1, 0.95 ERA, 16 K's), Kris Medlen (1-1, 1.42 ERA, 9 K's) Tim Hudson (2-0, 2.50 ERA, 13 K's) and closer Craig Kimbrel (6 saves, 0.00 ERA, 7 K's), the Braves lead the majors in ERA (1.77), WHIP (1.00) and opposing batting average (.206). 

Not only that, but the team is 12-2 on the season with a 6-2 record at home and a perfect 6-0 record on the road. 

Oakland, on the other hand, is tearing the cover off the ball in the American League West. Led by outfielder Seth Smith, shortstop Jed Lowrie, outfielder Coco Crisp and first baseman Brandon Moss, the A's lead the majors in runs scored (96), are second in on-base percentage (.354), third in slugging percentage (.464) and sixth in batting average (.269).

Great offensive stats to start off the 2013 year. But is their pitching fairing as well?

The team is leading the majors in quality starts (11), is eighth in ERA (3.55), 13th in WHIP (1.27) and 17th in opposing batting average (.252).  All quality numbers for any pitching staff and good enough to be ranked so high up in the power rankings.

The A's are also 12-4 on the season with a 6-4 home record and, like the Braves, a perfect 6-0 record on the road.

So who is the better team, and who will continue playing the way they currently are?

My bet would be with the Braves. 

This team looks way too complete offensively, defensively and in pitching, and I don't think it will slow down any time soon. Not only that, but all of their younger players are playing their hearts out and are contributing more than some of the teams' veterans. 

But the A's are also a fantastic team that have proven time and time again that money doesn't buy championships. But if we were to explore this same question a few weeks down the line, I still have a strong feeling that you will see the Braves at the top of the list with the A's dipping down to somewhere around five or six in the power rankings.

What do you think? Who should be at the top of this list, and who is the most powerful team right now in baseball?