Sunday, May 22, 2022

Batting Around: What’s been the biggest surprise so far of the 2022 MLB season?

We are now a full month into the 2022 MLB regular season. The sample sizes aren’t so small and fan bases are gaining and losing hope with each passing day. That said, there is still a lot — A LOT — of season to play, and plenty of teams are still vying for a spot in the new 12-team postseason format.

Throughout the season the CBS Sports MLB experts will bring you a weekly Batting Around roundtable breaking down pretty much anything. The latest news, a historical question, thoughts about the future of baseball, all sorts of stuff. Last week we discussed the slumping White Sox. This week we’re going to tackle the biggest surprises of the early season.

What has been the biggest surprise so far this season?

R.J. Anderson: The Reds. No one expected them to be good this season, but it was reasonable to think they could avoid 100 losses. Instead, they’ve been so dreadful as to produce some eye-popping tidbits, including the fact that it’s May and they’re on pace for 20 victories. What’s more is they have a run differential of minus-82, or more than 40 runs worse than any other club. Given how wretched some of these rosters are — largely by design — it’s always a surprise when a team that had, uh, more modest goals, let’s say, ends up being the worst of the worst. 

Matt Snyder: The Reds are probably the pick since they are on pace to lose more than 140 games, but since RJ beat me to it, I’ll go elsewhere. How about the Diamondbacks? Many, including myself, had them ticketed for one of the worst records in baseball and instead they are just about a series away from the last wild card spot. This comes after a 3-8 start, too. They have three starting pitchers with an ERA in the 1s in Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly and Madison Bumgarner

Mike Axisa: The Twins‘ rotation. I can’t say I had high hopes for a group that includes Dylan Bundy and Chris Archer, but Minnesota’s rotation has been nothing short of outstanding a month into the season. Their numbers going into Wednesday’s action:

  • ERA: 2.63 (3rd in MLB)
  • FIP: 3.38 (7th)
  • Opp. batting average: .210 (5th)
  • Opp. slugging percentage: .352 (6th)
  • WAR: 2.3 (7th)

And that’s with Sonny Gray being limited to two starts by a hamstring injury. Joe Ryan has been excellent, Chris Paddack’s new gyro-slider seems to have gotten him on track, and others like Bailey Ober and Josh Winder have contributed as well. I’m not 100 percent sold on the Twins truly having one of the seven best rotations in baseball, but they have for the first month of the season, and it’s helped them jump out to a nice lead in the AL Central.

Dayn Perry: While I figured they’d be good, the Padres‘ 16-8 start without one of the best players in baseball in the lineup (that would be Fernando Tatis) is a surprise. To be sure, they’ve have a somewhat soft schedule to date, but the start they’ve gotten off to is impressive in light of Tatis’ injury. Eric Hosmer, Manny Machado, and Joe Musgrove have all been huge for Bob Melvin’s club thus far.

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