Each MLB group’s most nice shock in 2022

September 17, 2022

Not the whole lot has gone good for each group this 12 months, as a result of hey, how may it? Someone’s obtained to win and lose each one in all these video games, in any case. However for all of the expectations — and all of the evaluation and prognostication — heading into the season, there are all types of issues that occur that nobody may have seen coming. The surprises are what make all of it enjoyable.
And every group has a participant who has surpassed even essentially the most optimistic situations. Whether or not it’s a younger participant who got here out of nowhere, a veteran who had struggled however discovered his stride this 12 months or an up-and-comer who made that massive leap ahead, someone has been the nice shock. Right here’s each group’s nice 2022 shock.

Blue Jays: Alejandro Kirk, C
Key stat: Has the 4th-lowest strikeout price amongst certified hitters (10.7%)
Final 12 months, the younger catcher hit .242 in 60 video games and had a best-case state of affairs of being the younger catcher who stored the seat heat for the younger backstop the Jays have been actually enthusiastic about. This 12 months, he was a slam-dunk All-Star.

Orioles: Anthony Santander, OF
Key stat: Workforce-leading 27 homers
You might actually go along with “the entire group” right here, however Santander was indicative of Baltimore’s leaps ahead this 12 months: A below-average hitter who grew to become a lineup mainstay this 12 months, goes to finish up with 30 homers and may simply be one of many younger gamers who sticks round some time.

Rays: Shane McClanahan, LHP
Key stat: Leads all starters with 26.9% Ok-BB price
He was a strong pitcher final 12 months — he completed seventh in AL Rookie of the 12 months voting — however even believers within the Rays’ pitching lab probably didn’t predict he would make a run at a Cy Younger this 12 months. Accidents might have value him that trophy, however for a lot of the 12 months, he was the favourite.

Pink Sox: Michael Wacha, RHP
Key stat: Profession-best 2.69 ERA
The 2013 postseason hero had been dropped by the Rays and Mets and appeared to be making his final profession cease with a corporation that badly wanted pitching. Now he’s 11-1 with the bottom ERA of his profession. 31 is the brand new 21.

Guardians: Andrés Giménez, 2B
Key stat: Ranks 4th amongst place gamers in bWAR (6.4)
The centerpiece of the Francisco Lindor commerce spent most of final 12 months in Triple-A. However he has tapped into all that potential this 12 months, and his breakout season may simply be the first cause the Guardians may win the AL Central.

Royals: Vinnie Pasquantino, 1B
Key stat: Amongst high 35 hitters in BB/Ok price and hard-hit price (min. 200 PA)
He’s by no means spent any time on any high 100 prospects record, however he has stored hitting and hitting and hitting … and it hasn’t stopped since he made it to the Majors. Is he now the Royals’ first baseman for the subsequent decade?

Tigers: Eric Haase, C
Key stat: Tied for ninth amongst catchers with 115 OPS+
The Tigers haven’t had many positives, stunning or in any other case, this 12 months, however Haase sneakily changing into one of many best-hitting catchers within the Majors is certainly one in all them.

Twins: Jose Miranda, 1B
Key stat: Leads AL rookies with 32 RBIs since All-Star break
How lengthy till folks begin going as much as the creator of Hamilton and asking him if he’s associated to the superior hitter for the Twins? Quickly, proper?

White Sox: Dylan Stop, RHP
Key stat: Allowed solely 6 ER over 14-start span from Could 29-Aug. 11
There was optimism that Stop may make a step ahead this 12 months, however nobody noticed him as a Cy Younger contender this shortly. The White Sox have had all types of points, however beginning pitching hasn’t actually been one in all them, significantly these days.

Angels: Taylor Ward, OF
Key stat: Had MLB-best 206 wRC+ by June 3 (min. 150 PA)
You might additionally go along with “Shohei is healthier than he was final 12 months” right here, however Ward, for the primary two months of the season, was matching teammate Mike Trout swing for swing. The truth that Ward, who slumped within the second half, is the reply right here, exhibits you that it has been a tricky 12 months for the Angels total after Ohtani and Trout.

Astros: Justin Verlander, RHP
Key stat: Leads all certified starters with .227 wOBA and career-best 1.78 ERA
He had pitched one recreation over the past two seasons. Now he may win his third Cy Younger.

Athletics: Sean Murphy, C
Key stat: Leads AL catchers in fWAR (4.7)
He has been an excellent participant earlier than, however he’s by no means been the very best participant on his group. That’s precisely what he has been this 12 months, although.

Rangers: Martín Pérez
Key stat: 4th amongst certified starters with 0.58 HR/9 price
The onetime Rangers prospect has returned to Arlington — albeit in a brand new stadium — and has taken a really circuitous path to fulfilling all of the promise they as soon as had for him.

Braves: Michael Harris II, OF
Key stat: 1 of three gamers with .300 AVG, 15 HR, 15 SB (Aaron Choose, Trea Turner)
The Braves have been enthusiastic about him, however largely due to his defensive expertise. However he has remodeled the lineup as properly and may simply win the NL Rookie of the 12 months for his troubles.

Marlins: Sandy Alcantara, RHP
Key stat: Has extra full video games (4) than another group
He was already considered Miami’s ace, however you didn’t see his identify atop very many Cy Younger boards heading into the 12 months. Now he’s obtained an excellent likelihood to win this franchise’s first one.

Mets: Edwin Díaz, RHP
Key stat: Leads MLB with 49.3% strikeout price and 17.18 Ok/9
Look, Díaz was good final 12 months. He has been good virtually his complete profession. However c’mon. You didn’t see any trumpets coming into this 12 months. Who thought he was able to being this?

Nationals: Joey Meneses, 1B
Key stat: .323 AVG leads all rookies with 150+ PA
The profession Minor Leaguer lastly obtained an opportunity to play within the Majors every day as soon as the Nats traded Juan Soto and Josh Bell, and he has rewarded his group by being its finest hitter since.

Phillies: Seranthony Domínguez, RHP
Key stat: 1.57 ERA getting into Friday ranked 4th amongst NL relievers with 40+ IP
He had thrown precisely one inning since 2019. This 12 months — earlier than permitting 5 runs in two-thirds of an inning on Friday evening to lift his ERA to 2.51 — he had given up solely eight runs in his first 45 innings and helped enhance probably the most famously cursed bullpens in baseball.

Cardinals: Albert Pujols, DH
Key stat: With 19 HR this season, now ranks 4th all-time with 698
There have been some actual surprises in St. Louis this 12 months, from Brendan Donovan to Lars Nootbaar to Andre Pallante. However seeing Pujols out of the blue flip into the MVP of 15 years in the past has been one of many craziest issues I’ve ever seen in sports activities.

Cubs: Christopher Morel, UTIL
Key stat: 1st Cubs rookie with 10+ HR and SB since Kris Bryant in 2015
By no means thought of one of many Cubs’ high prospects, he has electrified the group since arriving. He’s one man you by no means take your eyes off when he’s on the sphere.

Pirates: Oneil Cruz, SS
Key stat: 122.4 mph single on Aug. 24 is hardest-hit ball in Statcast period
All of us knew he is likely to be good. We didn’t know he was going to interrupt so many Statcast metrics.

Reds: Alexis Díaz, RHP
Key stat: 1 of 8 relievers (together with Edwin) with sub-2 ERA and 75+ Ok
Yeah, it seems Edwin has a brother who’s virtually nearly as good as he’s. Good to know!

D-backs: Daulton Varsho, CF
Key stat: Tied for lead amongst MLB outfielders with +13 Outs Above Common
He can hit, we suspected that, however who knew how properly this former catcher may play the sphere?

Dodgers: Evan Phillips, RHP
Key stat: 1.30 ERA is 2nd-lowest amongst relievers with 50+ IP
As if the Dodgers wanted the rest, they obtained a dominant reliever season out of … Evan Phillips. (Tyler Anderson and his 15-3 document with a 2.62 ERA is one other acceptable reply right here.)

Giants: Alex Cobb, RHP
Key stat: Fastball velocity is up 1.9 mph in 2022 (93.2 mph to 95.1 mph)
The Giants’ signing of the veteran righty has paid off, as Cobb has made 24 begins with a 3.48 ERA and his most strikeouts in a season (133) since 2014.

Padres: Ha-Seong Kim, SS
Key stat: +5 Outs Above Common as shortstop
Not all of the surprises in San Diego have been nice this 12 months, however studying that Kim can maintain down shortstop for a complete 12 months was positively one they very a lot wanted.

Rockies: Daniel Bard, RHP
Key stat: Profession-high 30 saves tied for 4th in NL
Query the contract extension if you’d like, however no group in baseball desires to face Bard within the ninth inning proper now.