We're just about one third of the way into the 2022 MLB season, just enough of a sample size to take an aerial view of how things are taking shape. Both New York teams and the Dodgers have the best records in baseball to this point while the Twins are vying for the early "surprise" team of 2022, leading the AL Central by 5 games over the initially favored White Sox (who have dealt with injuries.)
The Angels were a good story early on but have cooled off recently, now trailing the Astros (Houston and Verlander are still here) by 5 games in the AL West. Corbin Burnes and Josh Hader's elite pitching have helped lead the Brewers in the NL Central, 3 games ahead of the Cardinals who just won last night on a Pujols walkoff.
This season, Major League Baseball added a third Wildcard team in each league. If I had to make early picks it would be Cardinals, Padres, Giants in the National League and the Blue Jays, Rays, and White Sox in the American League.
The D'Backs (25-26), Pirates (21-27), and Orioles (21-30) were mostly thought to be three of the worst teams in baseball and have respectively hung in there to this point. On the flip side, the Mariners, Red Sox, Braves, and Phillies have been disappointing.
As far as the individual players, Paul Goldschmidt is having a renaissance season (over 1.000 OPS) as is Manny Machado (.347/.426/.562) and Aaron Judge is going to make himself a ton of money in the offseason as he's leading the league in HRs with the slash-line and defense to match. Guys like CJ Cron and Ty France have good numbers so far and are looking to establish themselves as All-Stars this year it seems.
Shane McClanahan has thrown the ball extremely well for the Rays, but on the pitching fronts and really overall, it is "Nasty" Nestor Cortes of the New York Yankees who has been the best story in baseball this season.
After bouncing around from the Yanks' farm system to the Orioles and then Mariners, New York brought him back last season and he started to figure out his cutter, 4 seam fastball mix which has led to major success. He's currently 4-1 with a 1.70 ERA in 9 starts. He's surrendered only 33 hits in 53 innings pitched and has a sub-1 WHIP. This is a guy who had an ERA over 15.00 in 2020. He's known for changing the pace of his delivery and arm slot, but he hasn't needed to use the gimmicky approach as much as of late as hitters seem to pick up the ball very late.
Kravitz and I discuss some of these themes in the podcast clip below.