Believe it or not, we’re already a month into the 2022 season, and a lot has changed since Opening Day.
Only one of the six division winners from last season is currently in first place, and a handful of surprising clubs have put themselves in strong position to chase a postseason spot over the next five months.
Angels: +22.5 (44.7% to 67.2%)
The Halos have reached the postseason just once in Mike Trout’s career, way back in 2014, but there’s cause for optimism in Anaheim. Trout is back from last year’s calf injury and once again looks like the best hitter in baseball, and Taylor Ward is helping him carry the load while the team waits for reigning AL MVP Shohei Ohtani and Anthony Rendon to find their swings. Ohtani has looked unhittable at times on the mound, and the club’s pitching staff is deeper this year thanks to Patrick Sandoval’s breakout and the additions of Noah Syndergaard, Michael Lorenzen, Ryan Tepera and Aaron Loup.
Mets: +22.1 (67.8% to 89.9%)
After a busy offseason in which the team added Max Scherzer, Chris Bassitt, Starling Marte, Eduardo Escobar and Mark Canha, Jacob deGrom’s shoulder injury cast a pall over the Mets heading into the start of the season. However, Tylor Megill has helped the rotation withstand the loss of deGrom, and the Mets' offense is averaging 4.57 runs per game, up from 3.93 last season. Thursday’s stunning comeback from six runs down in the ninth inning against the Phillies gave New York a 19-9 record and a 5 1/2-game lead for first place in the NL East.
Twins: +12.5 (40.4% to 52.9%)
The Twins started out 14-28 last season en route to a last-place finish in the AL Central. It’s been an entirely different story this year. Carlos Correa, the team’s splashy offseason signing, hasn’t even gotten going yet, but the Twins have raced into first place behind Byron Buxton’s bat and outstanding pitching from a number of fresh faces, including new additions Dylan Bundy and Chris Paddack and rookies Joe Ryan and Jhoan Duran. Meanwhile, every other AL Central team is sitting below .500.
Brewers: +12.1 (81.3% to 93.4%)
After winning the NL Central crown in 2021, the Brewers have their sights on another division title -- and perhaps a deeper postseason run -- this season. Milwaukee is the only division winner from last season that is currently in first place. As expected, the club's pitching staff has been excellent, with reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes and All-Star closer Josh Hader continuing their dominance and Eric Lauer and Adrian Houser helping to cover for the struggles of Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta. What’s surprising, though, is that Milwaukee’s offense, led by Rowdy Tellez, Willy Adames and a rejuvenated Christian Yelich, has been equally as impressive. The trio has combined for 19 homers and 59 RBIs.
Rays: +11.4 (52.7% to 64.1%)
Coming off a 100-win season and an AL East title in 2021, the Rays had the fourth-best playoff odds in the division entering 2022, but they’ve continued their brand of winning baseball so far. Wander Franco is a budding superstar, and Shane McClanahan has taken up the mantle of staff ace with Tyler Glasgow on the shelf following Tommy John surgery. Meanwhile, the club’s top seven bullpen arms -- Andrew Kittredge, Jeffrey Springs, Jason Adam, J.P. Feyereisen, Ryan Thompson, Matt Wisler and Brooks Raley -- have combined to allow nine earned runs over 76 2/3 innings (1.06 ERA).
Next 5: Giants (+11.3), Yankees (+9.9), Cardinals (+8.8), Padres (+8.5), Astros (+4.6)
Red Sox: -30.2 (61.3% to 31.1%)
The Red Sox came within two wins of reaching the World Series last season, trouncing the rival Yankees and Rays along the way, but it’s been rough sledding in Beantown this year. Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers and J.D. Martinez have received little support from the rest of the team’s offense, free-agent addition Trevor Story included, putting a lot of stress on a pitching staff that lacks depth even with Michael Wacha’s great start. Boston needs to get going fast to avoid falling further behind the Yankees, Blue Jays and Rays.
Phillies: -28.7 (60.9% to 32.2%)
After signing Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber in the offseason, this was supposed to be the year the Phillies leapt into contention, but the club dropped to four games under .500 with Thursday’s epic ninth-inning collapse against the first-place Mets. Philadelphia’s offense has done its part, but its starting pitching has been inconsistent, with Zack Wheeler, Ranger Suárez and Zach Eflin combining for a 4.40 ERA in 15 starts. The Phils got a 2.95 ERA in 62 starts out of that trio in 2021.
Braves: -17.4 (87.7% to 70.3%)
Like the NL East-rival Phillies, the Braves are still searching for their groove in 2022. With Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, Marcell Ozuna and Adam Duvall all struggling at the plate and Ronald Acuña Jr. still finding his footing after returning from a torn ACL, Atlanta was tied with the Marlins for 11th in the NL in runs per game (3.96) entering Friday. And while Max Fried, Kyle Wright and Ian Anderson have combined to go 9-4 with a 2.84 ERA in 15 starts, the rest of the club’s starters have gone 2-9 with a 7.79 ERA. Of course, the Braves know a thing or two about digging themselves out of a hole. Atlanta went 12-14 in the first month last season and was below .500 as late as Aug. 4 before going on a run that resulted in a World Series title.
White Sox: -15.3 (72.2% to 56.9%)
The White Sox won the AL Central by 13 games in 2021, the largest margin of any division winner, but not much has gone right in 2022. Lance Lynn and Yoán Moncada have missed the entire season to date with injuries, and Eloy Jiménez will be sidelined until at least June after tearing a tendon in his right hamstring, leaving a hole in a lineup that was already scuffling. On the plus side, Dylan Cease, Michael Kopech and Andrew Vaughn look like legitimate stars, Liam Hendriks is back on track after some early hiccups and the underlying offensive metrics suggest a turnaround is on the horizon for Luis Robert, José Abreu and Yasmani Grandal.
Tigers: -8.4 (12.1% to 3.7%)
After a 9-24 start last season, the Tigers played .527 ball the rest of the way and entered manager A.J. Hinch’s second season with an eye on their first postseason appearance since 2014. However, offseason additions Javier Báez and Eduardo Rodriguez and top prospect Spencer Torkelson haven’t provided the jolt the Tigers expected, and young starters Casey Mize and Matt Manning both went on the IL with arm injuries in mid-April. The high point of Detroit’s season came on April 23, when Miguel Cabrera recorded his 3,000th hit and the Tigers topped the Rockies 13-0. In 11 games since, they've gone 2-9.
Next 5: Marlins (-7.9), Reds (-7.8), Rangers (-5.6), Royals (-5.6), Cubs (-4.5)