MLB 2022 First Impressions

The season is a week old, which is far too early to draw conclusions. But it’s certainly not too early to get some first impressions. The season is long and it’s possible, maybe even likely, that many of them won’t last. But there’s no doubt that each team had clear storylines and takeaways in that first week. Some good, some bad, but all plain and simple.

So let’s take a look at a major first impression of each team:

The Blue Jays have been so aggressive with additions, and they’ve had such groundbreaking performances from their young players, that you almost forget they announced their push for a major clash when they signed Springer in January 2021. Springer looked great in his first season in Toronto, but rarely, playing just 78 games. But he’s come out bright red so far, the best hitter on a team stacked with them.

Orioles: Now it’s the hitting that’s the problem

Even with all their losses over the past few years, the Orioles have had hitters, from Cedric Mullins to Trey Mancini to the emergence of Ryan Mountcastle. It was the pitch that was the major problem. But the pitching hasn’t been struggling so far, especially the bullpen. The O’s have scored just 12 points in their first six games. A bad sign: a ratio of nearly 6 to 1 strikeouts on points. It’s not great.

The whole Franco thing is how much older he looks than his age, especially when it comes to his beating eye. Well, so far he’s on base at a clip of .444 – sort of second on his team, behind the rocket ship that is Ji-Man Choi – and he’s second in the Majors in hits with 12**. **Here’s just another reminder that he’s only 21.

The Red Sox bullpen has been very strong so far, and that’s a good thing, because the no-sell team has had nothing but poor rotational performance so far. Only one pitcher went more than five innings and he (Nick Pivetta) allowed four runs. They have a 5.20 ERA in their first six starts. In other words: in 27 2/3 innings, the starters allowed 16 earned runs; in 25 1/3 innings, the relievers gave up eight.

You worried the Yankees might have relied a little too much on Hicks, who hasn’t played a full season since 2018 (and really, he’s only played two in his entire career). Could you really count on him, at the age of 32, to lead the center field for you all season? That remains to be seen, but he looks as present and healthy as he has in years. He could also find his power shot after Tuesday’s circuit.

Guardians: Steven Kwan changes the whole look of this team

He’s constantly making it to base, he’s only been taken out once, and he’s giving the whole Guardians team a whole new identity, especially in the outfield where they need it most desperately. It’s obviously a lot to ask for this all year, but the Guardians’ decision not to bring in someone to help their outfield seems wise so far.

Royals: Pitching is definitely a concern

Bobby Witt Jr. has made some electrifying plays, and it’s obvious he’s going to be the center of this team for a long time. But it won’t lead to many wins if they don’t fix that pitching, something we’ve all heard before. Royals pitchers have the worst ERA in baseball (6.80) and opposing batters are hitting .306 against them.

Tigers: Tork may need a little time

As much (justified) praise as the Tigers received for putting Spencer Torkelson on the Opening Day roster, they are reminded that rookies are, well, rookies. Torkelson started the year 3 for 17, with one home run and eight strikeouts, and looked overwhelmed at times. The good news? The much-heralded batting eye is here: he has three walks despite not hitting the ball with much authority so far.

Remember when Buxton, out of nowhere, started kicking the ball around early last year before his (inevitable) injury? This power seems even more evident this year. Buxton has three homers and two doubles in 23 at-bats. He hits a little more than you’d like, but Buxton’s transformation as a hitter is pretty remarkable to behold.

White Sox: Like last year, they realize it

The 2021 White Sox easily won AL Central despite widespread injuries to their roster. The 2022 White Sox look set to do the same despite the same issue, but with the rotation this time. Both Lucas Giolito and Lance Lynn are injured, but the White Sox still win. They don’t get many innings from their rotation — 23 in five games — but that rotation has allowed just six runs. Heck, even Vince Velasquez pitched well!

I joke, I joke, I joke, I don’t freak out, I’m just stupid. But it should be noted that Ohtani is batting .160 with no walks, eight strikeouts and no RBIs. (It’ll be fine. Promise.)

The wrist issues that plagued Bregman all last season — and took him from his MVP tier to a league average hitter — are behind him, and Bregman looks like his old self again. He’s hitting the ball everywhere right now. He has two top-five MVP finishes in his five full seasons. Is he on his way to a third this year?

Athletics: Olson does not miss them yet

Seth Brown was the obvious first choice to succeed Matt Olson after the trade to Atlanta, and he’s been blowing the ball so far: He’s third in the AL in home runs and RBIs so far. Equally heartening: he steps onto the base, a long-standing struggle for him. It’s early days, but so far Brown seems like a perfect fit there.

Mariners: Kids may need time

We were as excited to see Julio Rodríguez on the opening day roster as anyone, but like his phenomenal teammate Jarred Kelenic last year, he didn’t rip the lid off the ball. He’s 1 for 18, with strikeouts in more than half of his at-bats. All kinds of Mariners are struggling at home plate, including Kelenic, who is himself 1 for 15.

Seager is hitting well, but Rangers’ problem remains exactly what you thought: they have a 5.52 ERA per team. Jon Gray, now on the IL, was also hit hard on his first start.

Braves: The offense still doesn’t miss Freddie Freeman (or for that matter Ronald Acuña Jr.)

It’s crazy that the Braves are missing a clear past MVP and future MVP from their roster and still lead the National League in points scored. Olson has been fantastic so far but Marcell Ozuna, after missing most of last year, has come to his senses in 2020, scoring 0.643 so far.

Marlins: Jazz may be setting it all up

The Marlins offense got off to a slow start, but Jazz Chisholm Jr. was electric, both on the field and at home plate, where he begins to throw the ball with power that belies his size.

Food: Megill, Bassitt and Carrasco are good surprises

Yeah, yeah, have fun with all your LOL-Mets if you will, but for those of you who thought the only way this team would fight was if they had Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom for 60 starts, well… Tylor Megill, Chris Bassitt, Carlos Carrasco and Taijuan Walker (now out with his own injury, of course) have 0.37 ERAs in their five starts combined. When he returns, are we Of course deGrom can break this rotation? (Just kidding, kidding. But still!)

Nationals: Josh Bell looks like serious trade bait in July

Nationals pitchers are struggling. But despite all the rumors that Nelson Cruz will get a bonus at the deadline, it is Bell who looks particularly sharp, both on the pitch and on the plate. Someone is really going to want a power hitter in July.

Phillies: Alec Bohm is the Phillies, for better or for worse

The “I hate it here” game is Bohm, and the 2022 Phillies, in a nutshell. Truly poor defense, unnecessary drama, a fun attack driven comeback, everyone ends up laughing and having fun until the defense raises its head and the cycle repeats itself. This year is going to be wild, one way or another.

Brewers: The Big Three are not doing well yet

Much of the optimism about the Brewers revolves around their big three at the top of the rotation of Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta and Brandon Woodruff. But it looked tough the first time around: 13 earned runs in 12 1/3 innings (though Burnes rebounded in his second start Wednesday night against the Orioles). I bet the Brewers won’t make the playoffs if these three have an ERA above nine!

Cardinals: The rotation indeed lacks depth

So far, the Cardinals lead the Majors in slugging despite playing in one of the most repressive baseball fields in the big leagues. And they had to manage like that, because the rotation after Adam Wainwright was a mess. None of the other three Cardinals starters (Miles Mikolas, Steven Matz and Dakota Hudson) have gone more than four innings yet, and they have allowed a total of 12 earned runs. The bullpen has saved them so far, but this team is going to run out of innings if the starters don’t find out soon.

He’s charismatic, he’s strong, he’s savvy and he’s exactly what the Cubs dreamed of. He’s been the avatar of the Cubs’ good start so far, and because he’s signed for a while, bodes well for an even brighter future.

Keller, as he did in spring training, was pitching much harder in his first start, but he still didn’t find much success, giving up four runs in four innings and walking two batters. Keller is the kind of piece the Pirates need to move forward, but so far it’s more or less the same.

Reds: With Joey Votto and Hunter Greene, the Reds will be very fun to watch

It’s not the same as saying they’re going to win the division. But the Reds are extremely watchable, despite their off-season moves, and that’s no small thing.

D-backs: they need bats

If you miss the pitchers with the emergence of the designated hitter in both leagues, well, look at the D-backs: they hit like pitchers. Their .140/.286/.246 line so far would make Zack Greinke blush.

Urías pitched 185 2/3 innings last year, a leap of 130 innings for a guy in his early 20s. What is 1986? We may already be seeing the aftermath of this: Urías was knocked down on his first start, but what was more worrying was the speed he lost. The Dodgers’ rotation was already their major concern. And Urías is someone they relied on.

Giants: they really look like a team that is already there

It’s obviously early days, but the Giants are getting value from guys you didn’t expect — again. Alex Cobb. Dominique Leon. Joc Pederson. Wilmer Flores. John Brebbia. Soon, it could be me… or even you!

After an offseason of a seemingly endless number of trade rumors, Hosmer rocked them all early on, hitting .381 with three doubles. It’s a way of blocking out the noise.

Rockies: They look brave!

It would be surprising if the Rockies, in defiance of all conventional wisdom, had been fantastic this year. They certainly were in week one: Kris Bryant, CJ Cron, Elias Díaz and Connor Joe all smash the ball, but the real eye-opener was the throwing, especially the bullpen. The Rockies have a 2.54 ERA so far! The wonders never cease.

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