The season is one week old, which is way too early to draw any conclusions. But it is definitely not too early to have some first impressions. The season is long, and it’s possible, perhaps even probable, that a lot of these won’t last. But there’s no question that each team has had some clear storylines and takeaways emerge in this first week. Some good, some bad, but all clear and plain.
So let’s take a look at one major first impression from each team:
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays: George Springer looks healthy
The Blue Jays have been so aggressive with additions, and they've had such breakthrough performances from their young players, that you almost forget that they announced their push for major contention by signing Springer in January 2021. Springer looked great in his first season in Toronto, but rarely, playing only 78 games. But he has come out red hot so far, the best hitter on a team stacked with them.
Orioles: Now it’s the hitting that’s the issue
Even with all their losses over the past few years, the Orioles have had hitters, from Cedric Mullins to Trey Mancini to the emerging Ryan Mountcastle. It has been the pitching that has been the major issue. But the pitching hasn’t been struggling so far, particularly the bullpen. The O's have scored only 12 runs in their first six games. A bad sign: a nearly 6-to-1 strikeouts-to-runs ratio. That’s not great.
Rays: Wander Franco is in no danger of a sophomore slump
The whole Franco thing is how much older he seems than his age, particularly when it comes to his batting eye. Well, so far he’s getting on base at a .444 clip -- somehow 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.
Red Sox: Chris Sale can’t get back fast enough
The Red Sox bullpen has been very solid so far, and it’s a good thing, because the Sale-less team has had only ugly rotation performances so far. Only one pitcher has gone more than five innings, and he (Nick Pivetta) gave up four runs. They have a 5.20 ERA in their first six starts. Put it this way: In 27 2/3 innings, the starters have given up 16 earned runs; in 25 1/3 innings, the relievers have given up eight.
Yankees: Aaron Hicks may be back
You worried that the Yankees may have been counting a little bit too much on Hicks, who hasn’t played a full season since 2018 (and really, he has only played two of them in his entire career). Could you really rely on him, at the age of 32, to man center field for you all season? That remains to be seen, but he looks as present and healthy as he has in years. He might just have his power stroke back, too, after homering on Tuesday.
Guardians: Steven Kwan changes the whole look of this team
He gets on base constantly, he's only struck out once and he gives the whole Guardians team an entirely new identity, especially in the outfield, where it most desperately needs it. It’s obviously a lot to ask for this all year, but the Guardians’ decision not to bring in someone to help their outfield looks wise so far.
Royals: The pitching is certainly a concern
Bobby Witt Jr. has made some electrifying plays, and it’s obvious he’s going to be at the center of this team for a long time. But it won’t lead to many wins if they don’t get this pitching fixed, something we’ve all heard before. Royals pitchers have the worst ERA in baseball (6.80) and opposing hitters are hitting .306 against them.
Tigers: Tork may need a little time
As much (justified) praise as the Tigers got for putting Spencer Torkelson on the Opening Day roster, they’re being reminded that rookies are, well, rookies. Torkelson has started the year 3-for-17, with one homer and eight strikeouts, and at times has looked overmatched. The good news? The much-heralded batting eye is there: He has three walks despite not hitting the ball with much authority so far.
Twins: Byron Buxton's power has manifested itself
Remember when Buxton just out of nowhere started smashing the ball early last year before his (inevitable) injury? That power looks even more evident this year. Buxton has three homers and two doubles in 23 at-bats. He’s striking out a little bit more than you’d like, but Buxton’s transformation as a hitter is rather remarkable to behold.
White Sox: Just like last year, they’re figuring it out
The 2021 White Sox won the AL Central easily despite widespread injuries to their lineup. The 2022 White Sox look well on their way to doing the same thing despite the same problem, but with the rotation this time. Lucas Giolito and Lance Lynn are both hurt, but the White Sox are winning anyway. They’re not getting many innings out of their rotation -- 23 in the five games -- but that rotation has only given up six runs. Heck, even Vince Velasquez pitched well!
Angels: Oh my gosh is Shohei Ohtani OK?
I kid, I kid, I kid, I’m not panicking, just being silly. But it is worth noting that Ohtani is batting .160 with no walks, eight strikeouts and no RBIs. (It’ll be fine. Promise.)
Astros: Alex Bregman is back
The wrist issues that plagued Bregman all of last season -- and brought him down from his MVP level to a league-average hitter -- are behind him, and Bregman looks like his old self again. He’s pounding the ball everywhere right now. He has two top five MVP finishes in his five full seasons. Is he en route to a third this year?
Athletics: They don’t miss Olson yet
Seth Brown was the first and obvious pick to take over for Matt Olson after the trade with Atlanta, and he’s booming the ball so far: He’s third in the AL in homers and RBIs so far. Just as encouraging: He’s getting on base, a longtime struggle for him. It’s early, but so far, Brown looks like a perfect fit over there.
Mariners: The kids might need some time
We were as excited to see Julio Rodríguez on the Opening Day roster as anyone, but like fellow phenom teammate Jarred Kelenic last year, he hasn't ripped the cover off the ball. He’s 1-for-18, with strikeouts in over half of his at-bats. All sorts of Mariners are having a hard time at the plate, not least of which is Kelenic, who is 1-for-15 himself.
Seager is hitting well, but the Rangers' problem remains just what you thought it was: They have a 5.52 team ERA. Jon Gray, now on the IL, got hit hard in his first start, too.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Braves: The offense doesn’t miss Freddie Freeman (or for that matter Ronald Acuña Jr.) yet
It is wild that the Braves are missing a former MVP and a clear future MVP from their lineup and are still leading the National League in runs scored. Olson has been fantastic so far, but Marcell Ozuna, after missing most of last year, has returned to his 2020 self, slugging .643 so far.
Marlins: Jazz may be putting it together
The Marlins' offense is off to a slow start, but Jazz Chisholm Jr. has been electric, both in the field and at the plate, where he’s starting to launch the ball with power that belies his size.
Mets: Megill, Bassitt and Carrasco are pleasant surprises
Yeah, yeah, have all your LOL-Mets fun if you want, but for those of you who thought the only way this team was contending was if it had Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom for 60 starts, well … Tylor Megill, Chris Bassitt, Carlos Carrasco and Taijuan Walker (who is now out with his own injury, of course) have put up a 0.37 ERA in their five combined starts. When he returns, are we sure deGrom can crack this rotation? (I kid, I kid. But still!)
Nationals: Josh Bell looks like some serious trade bait come July
The Nationals’ pitching has been struggling. But for all the talk that Nelson Cruz would fetch a bounty at the Deadline, it’s Bell who looks particularly spry, both in the field and at the plate. Someone’s going to very much want a switch-hitting power hitter this July.
Phillies: Alec Bohm is the Phillies, for better or worse
The “I hate it here” game is Bohm, and the 2022 Phillies, in a nutshell. Some truly subpar defense, some unnecessary drama, a fun comeback driven by the offense, everybody ultimately laughing and having fun about it until the defense rears its head and the cycle repeats. This year is going to be wild, one way or another.
Brewers: The Big Three is not OK yet
So much of the optimism about the Brewers revolves around their big three atop the rotation of Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta and Brandon Woodruff. But it sure looked rough the first time through: 13 earned runs in 12 1/3 innings (although Burnes rebounded in his second start Wednesday night against the Orioles). Here’s betting the Brewers aren’t making the playoffs if those three have an ERA over nine!
Cardinals: The rotation is indeed lacking depth
The Cardinals are leading the Majors in slugging so far despite playing in one of the most offense-suppressing ballparks in the bigs. And they’ve had to slug like that, because the rotation after Adam Wainwright has been a mess. None of the Cardinals' other three starters (Miles Mikolas, Steven Matz and Dakota Hudson) has gone more than four innings yet, and they’ve given up 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 figure this out soon.
Cubs: Seiya Suzuki is all they could have hoped for
He’s charismatic, he’s strong, he’s savvy and he’s exactly what the Cubs dreamed of. He has been the avatar of the Cubs’ pleasant start so far, and because he’s signed for a while, an augur of an even better future.
Pirates: The Mitch Keller resurgence has not shown up yet
Keller, as he did in Spring Training, was throwing a lot 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 sort of piece the Pirates need to figure out moving forward, but so far, it’s more of the same.
Reds: With Joey Votto and Hunter Greene, the Reds are going to be very fun to watch
This is not the same thing as saying they are going to win the division. But the Reds are extremely watchable, in spite of their offseason moves, and that’s not nothing.
D-backs: They need some bats
If you miss pitchers batting with the emergence of the designated hitter in both leagues, well, just look at the D-backs: They have been hitting like pitchers. Their .140/.286/.246 line so far would make Zack Greinke blush.
Dodgers: Should we worry about Julio Urías?
Urías threw 185 2/3 innings last year, a jump of 130 innings for a guy in his early 20s. What is this, 1986? We may be seeing the aftereffects already: Urías got knocked around in his first start, but what was more worrisome was how much velocity he has lost. The Dodgers' rotation was already their major concern. And Urías is someone they were counting on.
Giants: They sure look like a team figuring it out again, already
It’s obviously early, but the Giants are getting value from guys you wouldn’t have expected -- again. Alex Cobb. Dominic Leone. Joc Pederson. Wilmer Flores. John Brebbia. Soon, it could be me … or even you!
Padres: Eric Hosmer would like to stay
After an offseason of a seemingly endless number of trade rumors, Hosmer has shaken them all off in the early going, hitting .381 with three doubles. That’s one way to block out the noise.
Rockies: They look spunky!
It would be surprising if the Rockies actually, in defiance of all conventional wisdom, were fantastic this year. They certainly were in the first week: Kris Bryant, C.J. Cron, Elias Díaz and Connor Joe are all crushing the ball, but the real revelation has been the pitching, especially the bullpen. The Rockies have a 2.54 ERA so far! Wonders never cease.