The 2022 season is here, and I could not be more excited. My favorite team is actually trying, and even though it is likely to end in tears, it is a welcome change to have a real chance to win it all once things are said and done. I like to look at all of the teams around the sport because I love the game. Having said that, here are impressions for each of the teams as the season begins.
National League East
Atlanta Braves: The defending world champions are not going to drop off. I addition of Matt Olson will cushion the loss of Freddie Freeman. The return of Ronald Acuna is great for the game of baseball. Seeing Kenley Jansen in an Atlanta uniform will take some getting used to.
New York Mets: The Mets are really going for it this year. Picking Max Scherzer, Starling Marte, Eduardo Escobar, Chris Bassitt, and Mark Canha will keep the Mets competitive. Jacob deGrom starting the season on the injured list could mean the race for the division title is already over. It is a welcome sight to see Buck Showalter at the helm to keep the ship going in the right direction.
Philadelphia Phillies: The worst bullpen ever (no really) undid the Phillies last year. I am not sure adding Jeurys Familia, Brad Hand, and Corey Knebel is the way to solve the problem. Bringing Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber means the team will score close to 800 runs, so reigning MVP Bryce Harper cannot say he is all alone in the lineup. The back of the rotation and questionable defense will likely sink the team in the end.
Miami Marlins: A team fronted by some of the most exciting young pitching in baseball is a good place to start. Sandy Alacantara, Trevor Rogers, and Pablo Lopez are quietly a formidable trio. The problem here is the offense. Avisail Garcia and Jorge Soler are not enough to carry the team to the heights they hope to reach. Historically, this team struggles to score and I don’t see this season being any different.
Washington Nationals: The teardown is nearly complete in Washington. This team is Juan Soto and not much else. Stephen Strasburg may have been consumed by injuries. Patrick Corbin is inconsistent and injured. The prospects are still a ways off, so it figures to be a long season. At least the team added Nelson Cruz in an effort to keep Juan Soto from approaching the record for walks in a season.
National League Central
Milwaukee Brewers: They have possibly the best rotation in baseball. Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Freddy Peralta will keep the team in the race the entire way. The bullpen, anchored by Devin Wiliams and Josh Hader, is a strength as well. A name to remember is Aaron Ashby. Andrew McCutcheon is not enough to fix their problem scoring runs. It is make or break time for Keston Hiura.
St. Louis Cardinals: The Cardinals look to be about the best defensive team in the National League. This will be useful because there are age and injury concerns throughout the pitching staff. Adam Wainwright is over 40; Miles Mikolas and Jordan Hicks are returning from injury. Alex Reyes is currently injured. What do they have in Drew Ver Hagen? New manager Oliver Marmol will have a lot on his plate in his rookie season.
Chicago Cubs: This is a perfectly average baseball team. The Cubs will be able to beat up on the teams at the bottom of the standing, but not be able to hang with the teams at the top. Frank Schwindel and Patrick Wisdom, the stars 0f 2021 are older than people realize. Both could be moved at the trade deadline Marcus Stroman and Kyle Hendricks will give them solid innings at the top of the rotation.
Cincinnati Reds: Another team where the rebuild is in full swing. Exciting young pitchers Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo will start the season on the team so they can have their growing pains away from prying eyes. The landing spot and eventual return for Luis Castillo in a trade will be a thing to watch for this season. Joey Votto wants to hit for more power, so let us marvel at what we have while he is here.
Pittsburgh Pirates: It is what is in Pittsburgh. The perpetual rebuild continues. Mitch Keller and Ke’Bryan Hayes are nice young players. Oneil Cruz might come up and win the Rookie of the Year award. There is an outside chance the first overall pick in the 2021 draft, Henry Davis, makes an appearance this season. This club is still in the sorting phase as they are deciding who their keepers are.
National League West
Los Angeles Dodgers: The prohibitive favorites in the National League added Freddie Freeman to an already stacked lineup. There is a question of depth within the pitching staff as they are relying on Clayton Kershaw and David Price to contribute. Andrew Heaney and Tyler Anderson provide some depth, but not top-end production. This team could score 1000 runs, so the pitching might not matter much in the end.
San Francisco Giants: The whole is better than the sum of the parts. Adding Carlos Rodon into the rotation will be a boost, assuming his shoulder holds up. Alex Cobb found a few miles per hour this offseason, I am curious how this will play. There is a lot of pressure on Joey Bart to replace the future Hall of Famer Buster Posey. The Giants will need another big season from Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt, and the surprising Lamonte Wade Jr. in order to come close to their success from last year.
San Diego Padres: Starting the season with Fernando Tatis Jr. likely ends the divisional title race before it starts. C.J. Abrams has a real chance to show what he can do in the absence of Tatis. The pitching staff has enough depth to absorb some injuries and ineffectiveness. Taylor Rogers might be a useful arm in the bullpen. Luke Voit will get regular at-bats and should be productive. The mystery here is what to do with Eric Hosmer he has become a bit of an albatross around the neck of the team.
Arizona Diamondbacks: They are not as bad as their 110 loss season last year. Zac Gallen and Luke Weaver are solid, but not spectacular rotation arms. Christian Walker is a functional major league hitter, but older than he appears. In Dalton Varsho, the centerfield/catcher combo is something. A healthy Ketel Marte will really help things here. Their next wave of talent is still a ways off.
Colorado Rockies: Adding Kris Bryant can’t be a bad thing. Adding him after sending Nolan Arrenado out the door makes it less of a good thing. Losing Trevor Story and Jon Gray for nothing is a bit of negligence on the part of the front office. Charlie Blackmon, C.J. Cron, Ryan McMahon, and Brendan Rodgers are the sort of guys that give me an expansion team vibe, even though it isn’t one. German Marquez is their low-key good number one starter.
American League East
Toronto Blue Jays: This team is loaded. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, George Springer, and the rest of the gang should be the class of the American League. A full season of Jose Berrios in the rotation will offset the loss of Robbie Ray. Kevin Gausman will be another big pickup for their rotation. Alek Manoah will become a discussed piece of the pitching staff. They also have one of the top catching prospects in Gabriel Moreno close to joining the team.
New York Yankees: An MVP-level performance from Aaron Judge in his free agent walk year will really be needed to keep pace in the division. The improved defense will be important for the Yankees. Isiah Kiner-Falefa in the infield and the defensive upgrades behind the plate were needed. Luis Severino will need to maintain his health to solidify the rotation. What they will get from Gleyber Torres is another big question the answer to which could shape their season.
Boston Red Sox: J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, and newly acquired Trevor Story make for a strong offensive core. The questions with this group are in the pitching staff. Chris Sale cannot be relied upon any longer. Nathan Eovaldi is good on his day, but it comes and goes with him. Tanner Houck and Garret Whitlock will have to contribute big innings for this team to make another playoff run. I am curious to see what they get, if anything, from Tristan Casas this season
Tampa Bay Rays: I don’t foresee them winning 100 games again this season, but I wouldn’t be amazed if they did. The trades Austin Meadows to Detroit, but have his replacement in-house with Josh Lowe being ready to go. A full season from Wander Franco combined with a strong sophomore season from Randy Arozarena will keep them viable in a competitive division. I expect Shane Baz to jump into the spot vacated by Tyler Glasnow, who is out after undergoing Tommy John Surgery. Shane McClanahan is a solid arm in the rotation who is underappreciated.
Baltimore Orioles: This rebuild is taking longer than expected. Adley Rutschman will be in the major leagues this season, so the first big piece of the next stage will have arrived. Grayson Rodriguez will be called up at some point this year as well, so their ace-in-waiting will be on the big stage too. Cedric Mullins was exciting as a 30/30 outfielder, but it has to ring a bit hallow with this ballclub. I want to see if there is growth from Ryan Mountcastle because he could become an important player for the Orioles.
American League Central
Chicago White Sox: This lineup really has no holes. The Cuban contingent of Jose Abreu, Luis Robert, Yasmani Grandal, and Yoan Moncada all do damage. Tim Anderson is a solid shortstop. Lucas Giolito will lead the rotation, but I have questions with the bullpen; losing Garrett Crochet will be a big blow. I am looking forward to a full season of Michael Kopech. They will need to make up for the injury to Lance Lynn.
Detroit Tigers: They are just about ready to be back in the playoff mix. Tarik Skubal and Casy Mize appear to have learned their lessons on the big league level. The Eduardo Rodriguez addition will keep them from getting too much work too soon. Michael Fulmer has become a decent relief arm as well. Spencer Torkelson is ready to supplant Miguel Cabrera as the lynchpin of their lineup. Riley Greene will be up once he returns from his injury. And yes, Javier Baez is in Detroit too.
Minnesota Twins: This team has a deeper lineup than one thinks. Adding Carlos Correa was an unexpected get for the Twins, even if it is only a one-year deal. Byron Buxton was showing he can be a top 10 player until he got hurt (again). This is the year he plays 150 games. Dylan Bundy and Sonny Gray will keep the workload manageable for Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan. This might be the year the playoff losing streak ends.
Cleveland Guardians: The return of a healthy Shane Beiber is the key thing here. Cal Quantrill was good for them and can make the rotation more solid. I expect a big season from Triston McKenzie. I question the offense outside of Jose Ramirez. Steven Kwan will be a low power/high contact contributor; Tyler Freeman might be a second one. I still remember when Amed Rosario was a top prospect.
Kansas City Royals: The Bobby Witt Jr. era is upon us. He will be on the team from opening day and is a strong bet for Rookie of the Year. The young arms still are maturing in Kansas City. Daniel Lynch, Jackson Kowar, and Brady Singer are about where the Detroit Tigers’ arms were at this point last year. Asa Lacy might have the best stuff of the bunch, but the command is questionable. Can Salvador Perez repeat his 2021? How long until Nick Pratto is ready?
American League West
Houston Astros: The American League Champions a still formidable. Losing Carlos Correa will be noticeable. Jeremy Pena has a burden of expectation that might be too much to carry. Having Justin Verlander back in the mix will help mitigate the year after effect for the Luis Garcia, Framber Valdez, and Jose Urquidy trio. Kyle Tucker is a great player who isn’t mentioned enough. Alex Bregman should be healthy and back to his prior levels of production. Yordan Alvarez is still in town. This team will be fine.
Seattle Mariners: The rebuild is just about complete. They won 90 games last year and added Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray. Julio Rodriguez is another exciting rookie. Logan Gilbert went through his growing pains and is ready to take a step forward. Two names to file away are George Kirby and Emerson Hancock. I think Jarred Kelenic might be a post-hype guy who will become what was projected for him a year ago.
Los Angeles Angels: Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout are two of the best foundational pieces any team has ever had. I question the lack of depth in the team overall. They don’t have a pitcher I would trust for 150 innings this season. Using a six man rotation or not, the staff is thin. Jo Adell will have to be another post-hype guy for the Angels; his path to playing time was cleared once Justin Upton was let go. There is pressure on Brandon Marsh as well for the same reason.
Texas Rangers: They splashed the cash to come away with the best middle infield in baseball. Corey Seager and Marcus Semien are great players, but they are only 22% of a lineup. Adolis Garcia and Nathaniel Lowe looked fine last year until they didn’t. Jack Leiter will be up at some point to be the savior for the starting rotation. Jon Gray will have to show his problem was Colorado and not his right arm.
Oakland Athletics: Another rebuild in full swing. Frankie Montas is the last one standing for now. His lease is month-to-month because there is no way he finishes the season on the A’s. Once Ramon Laureano returns from his steroid suspension he will be leaving town too. We will find out if Brett Honeywell Jr. will have a major league career after all. A.J Puk is another guy in Oakland hanging around the last chance saloon. This club will be a rough one to watch in 2022.
All in all, 2022 shapes up to be a fascinating year with the exciting rookies; the expanded playoff field; the new faces in new places, and the universal designated hitter. The first pitch cannot get here fast enough.