We are at the beginning of 2022. While Major League Baseball is starting the year in the middle of a lockout. Having said that, the game will return soon enough, and I am interested to see what the year has in store for the clubs. Last week on the Dingers and K’s podcast, Jeremy and I mentioned something we hope to see for each of our clubs this year. That discussion, and our general manager conversations, had me looking at the entire league and some things I would like to see for each of the clubs. The things can be tangible to things that have intrinsic value. The one thing I will avoid is saying a team needs a new owner because that is unlikely to happen for any of the clubs for the foreseeable future.
National League East: The Atlanta Braves won the World Series, so in a way, they have what they would want. A speedy recovery for Ronald Acuna makes the game better because the game is always better when the best players are on the field. For the Miami Marlins, a real power hitter or two would really help jump-start things. Adam Duvall was tied for the team lead in homers with 22, even though he finished the season in Atlanta. The New York Mets could use a starting left-handed pitcher. David Peterson is the best one they have, and that isn’t good enough. In 2022, the Washington Nationals should wish for a Carlos Rodon level free agent to shore up the rotation. The Philadelphia Phillies are obviously and perpetually in the market for relief help. Kenley Jansen in the City of Brotherly Love?
National League Central: A return to an MVP level for Christian Yelich would do wonders for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2022. This is another example of the game being better when the best players play their best. The St. Louis Cardinals would really benefit from Jack Flaherty returning to his 2019 form. An in-house ace could be the difference between good and great for this team. The Chicago Cubs are in a rebuilding phase right now, but starting pitching will move things along. It is more than a little problematic when every pitcher who made at least ten starts had an ERA of 4.58 or worse. A team that has been rebuilding forever is the Pittsburgh Pirates. I would love to see them sign some credible major leaguers and not just take home the revenue-sharing dollars. Since they are restructuring their payroll, the Cincinnati Reds have to chips to cash in. Getting a strong return for Luis Castillo and anyone else they can move will be paramount.
National League West: As discussed on the podcast, the Arizona Diamondback needed to address the bullpen. As he will be 38 before opening day, it is imperative Mark Melancon has some gas left in the tank after saving 39 games last year. It is known I have my doubts about Cody Bellinger. The Los Angeles Dodgers will need him to be similar to his MVP version, rather than the injured and ineffective version he was last season if they are to get where they want to go. The San Francisco Giants overperformed expectations in 2021. I hope to see Logan Webb back up a strong season with another one. His FIP was better than his ERA, so there is room to grow. The San Diego Padres underachieved, hence their new manager. In 2022, a Blake Snell resurgence to approximate his Cy Young season would make them a real threat in NL West. The Colorado Rockies need a real leader in their baseball operations department. Seeing Trevor Story and Jon Gray leaving town for nothing makes no sense.
American League East: The Toronto Blue Jays have the tough task of replacing a Cy Young Award winner in Robbie Ray and a top 5 MVP finisher in Marcus Semien. Seeing them add Kevin Gausman addresses the first issue, but I am curious to see how they will fix the second one. The Baltimore Orioles were their own brand of bad in 2021. In 2022 I would love to see them add a few functional major league players. The movie Major League was supposed to be fiction. Shane Baz can be another one of those Tampa Bay Rays arms that average fans aren’t aware of who then shoves it down the throats of their favorite team. I am looking for a strong season from him and the team. The Fenway faithful will need a repeat of 2021 out of Nathan Eovaldi if the Boston Red Sox are to reemerge as a playoff team again. He is another guy who outpitched his FIP, so there is a real chance it happens. For the New York Yankees, it is a similar tune. The starting pitching after Gerrit Cole is a huge question mark. I am looking forward to seeing if Nestor Cortes can weave his brand of magic again this year.
American League Central: For a team built around starting pitching, the unit for the Cleveland Guardians underperformed. If the group of Shane Bieber, Triston McKenzie, and Zach Plesac don’t perform to their expected level, then they will have a major uphill climb. The thing I hope to see the most for the Kansas City Royals will likely be in Omaha on opening day most likely. Bobby Witt Jr. is one of the most exciting prospects in the minors, but he should make his debut in 2022. The Detroit Tigers look to be a sneaky decent team. They too have a prospect who could come up and make an impact this year in Spencer Torkelson, the first pick of the 2020 draft. Outfielder Riley Greene is another player who can give them a boost. The thing I want to see for the Minnesota Twins is an obvious one in the name of Byron Buxton. While he is seemingly made of glass, his talent is undeniable. 150 games of Buxton could have fans seeing what experts have been salivating for since he was drafted out a Geogia high school ten years ago. The Chicago White Sox are in win-now mode, so I would like to them go all in. Finding another second baseman and possibly unleashing Michael Kopech can help them take another step forward.
American League West: The pitching issues of the Los Angeles Angels are well documented. The addition of Noah Syndergaard can provide some help in the rotation. Maybe this is the season Thor puts it all together for a full complement of 32 starts. The Houston Astros are the defending American League champs, so they aren’t completely broken. Losing Carlos Correa might hurt, so I am wanting to see if the crew of Lance McCullers, Luis Garcia, Framber Valdez, and Jose Urquidy step up to take a bit of pressure off of what should still be a very good offense. The Oakland Athletics are in a similar place as the Reds; they have players to move and no one is truly off-limits. They have gone through this before, so I am curious to see which clubs are able to make a deal for their impact players, such as Matt Olson and Matt Chapman. The pitchers such as Frankie Montas and Sean Manaea could be leaving town as well. A playoff drought is the old friend of the Seattle Mariners. Adding Robbie Ray will help end that. I just want to see the continued development of their young core. I am looking forward to seeing Jarred Kelenic make the adjustments after his rough first exposure to major league pitching. No team made more noise ahead of the lockout than the Texas Rangers. Spending $500 million on a middle infield does make hopeful they can get closer to 75 wins. Josh Jung should arrive soon and move things along even more. They even got a real arm in Jon Gray.
I hope 2022 is an exciting season. I am looking forward to good baseball. I am not actively rooting against anyone, so may the best team win!