We’ve seen just about one-quarter of the MLB season (don’t say “quarter pole,” though, because horse racing fans will torch you like Early Voting on the home stretch). There are so many takeaways.
First off, to so many different fan bases: Don’t you dare give up. Just ask the last two full-season World Series champs.
- Through 40 games last year, the Braves were 19-21.
- Through 40 games in 2019, the Nationals were 16-24.
A good 2022 observation to this point is how strong the NL West has been. The division as a whole had all five teams above .500 into the middle of May. Hell, they aren’t far off right now as we approach June.
The Dodgers remain the easy NL favorite and get the Yankees by a nose on odds to win the World Series. They’ll have ups and downs and that’s the beauty of baseball. One of the many impressive things about this team is its ability to weather the proverbial storm and immediately bounce back with a vengeance. They lost their first series of the season, but then won seven straight. They lost three of four to the D-Backs and Tigers to close April, but then ripped off six straight wins. They lost a series to the Pirates and then three straight to the Phillies last week, but then won six in a row. They’ll keep doing this all season.
The Giants might not quite have the magic they had last season, but they aren’t to be taken lightly. Even after having lost six of their last eight right now, the Giants are on pace to win 89 games. They are in third place. As a reminder, 89 games was good enough to take the NL East last season and we know how that team fared in the playoffs.
The Diamondbacks and Rockies appear ticketed for the final two spots in the division, but they have been rather formidable bottom-division teams. Both have hovered around .500 for a bit and were recently over. When they aren’t stuck playing within the division, the Diamondbacks are 16-13 and the Rockies are 15-13.
That leaves the Padres. I saved them for a reason. They just finished a 7-2 road trip to Atlanta, Philadelphia and San Francisco, sweeping the Giants in a statement series. They now trail the Dodgers by just a half-game and that’s for the best record in the entire National League. They are playing at a 107-win pace.
Now, the Padres can’t erase the collapse they put together in the last six weeks last season until they get through September this time around. Surely they know this. They also have one of the best managers in baseball in Bob Melvin, the rotation is in a lot better place and Manny Machado is playing like an MVP. They already made a huge in-season acquisition in closer Taylor Rogers, who leads the majors with 16 saves. I’m also pretty confident that no one is going to add a player the caliber of Fernando Tatis Jr. in front of the trade deadline this season. Expect a Tatis return around the All-Star break. This time, the Dodgers won’t be able to swoop in like they did last year with Max Scherzer.
Can the Padres perform their own theft and take the NL West from the Dodgers? We’re going to have another 75ish percent of the season to find out, but it’s sure going to be fun out west.
|In dropping the doubleheader to the White Sox on Sunday, that’s just second Yankees series loss of the year and the first since they were 5-5. It happens.||—||29-12|
|In his last 10 games, Mookie Betts has 11 extra-base hits, including five home runs.||3||27-13|
|I mentioned how good a place the rotation is in above, and to illustrate the point: Mike Clevinger just went on the injured list and the Padres still have six viable starters.||3||27-14|
|Jose Altuve’s last 17 games: 24 for 67 (.358) with five doubles, eight home runs, 11 RBI and 18 runs.||2||27-15|
|Remarkably consistent, the Mets haven’t won more than three straight games all season, but they haven’t lost more than two in a row. They haven’t even lost two straight since April 10-11, giving them a streak of 14 consecutive wins after a loss.||1||28-15|
|They have now only played five games against teams currently .500 or above (they’ve gone 2-3 in those games). They can turn some heads this week, visiting the Padres and Cardinals.||3||26-15|
|It was a bummer to see Royce Lewis play so well and get sent right back down when Carlos Correa was back off the IL, but he’ll be back. And the Twins didn’t miss a beat.||3||25-16|
|They faced some adversity with their longest losing streak of the season — especially given the way in which that eighth inning unfolded on Tuesday (IYKYK). They bounced back to close the week with a pair of wins, though. This Angels team has a different feel for sure.||5||26-17|
|Among qualified starters this season, only Dylan Cease strikes out more batters per inning than Shane McClanahan. McClanahan has now made 33 starts in his career, so roughly one season, and struck out 206 hitters in 169 2/3 innings.||2||24-17|
|Nolan Gorman in just three games so far: 5 for 10, two doubles, two walks, four runs, an RBI and just one strikeout.||1||23-18|
|That was a 4-2 week, but it was against the Mariners and Reds at home and overall the offense is still struggling.||1||22-19|
|I mentioned their “magic” in the intro, but I wonder as the season progresses how much they really do miss Buster Posey both in the lineup and clubhouse.||4||22-18|
|What a great response on Sunday night, Tim Anderson. Nice work.||4||21-20|
|Here they come? That’s five in a row, eight of 10 and they have regained their swagger.||7||19-22|
|Ronald Acuña, Jr. is only three off the NL lead in stolen bases. He’s 8 for 8 in just 15 games and that’s after coming off ACL surgery. He’s such an incredible athlete and I maintain that he’s actually underrated.||1||19-22|
|After such a great road trip, they came home and lost four of six. At least they managed to come back and pull a rabbit out of Max Muncy’s hat with the Sunday walk-off.||3||19-22|
|Fun fact: Josh Rojas has three home runs all season and they all came in the same game.||1||21-22|
|The Rangers went 6-14 in their first 20 but 12-8 in their next. It’s an incomplete team, no doubt, but not a terrible one.||4||18-22|
|They’ve had six rainouts in three homestands this season and surely it’s preventing them from feeling like they can get into a rhythm.||4||17-20|
|There have only been seven complete games all season, now that Sandy Alcantara added his name to the list with Sunday’s excellent effort.||—||18-22|
|The Rockies have now dropped 10 of their last 13. They even just went 3-6 on a homestand. Is nothing sacred anymore?||2||19-21|
|What a brutal week after a big series win over the Mets last weekend. Perhaps a silver lining is that the Mariners finally get to return home. Only the Reds have played fewer home games this season. And the Mariners are 9-7 in T-Mobile Park.||4||17-25|
|If you didn’t watch the Adley Rutschman triple, go find it. It was the first big-league hit for a likely future star, yes, but also watch it for the crowd excitement. The Orioles haven’t contended since 2017 and they’ve been one of baseball’s worst teams since the start of 2018, but the crowd was electric for a bases-empty triple down 5-0 in the seventh. LOVE IT.||4||17-25|
|The A’s are 6-14 at home, which is a .300 winning percentage. Their worst full-season home win percentage since moving to Oakland is .383 (31-50 in 1979).||—||17-26|
|You know who I really like, is this guy Christopher Morel. He has got a very likable way about him. OK, so I took a Michael Scott quote and just changed the name in there, but that’s how exciting Morel’s debut was.||—||16-24|
|Tarik Skubal is now working on a 19-inning scoreless streak and has been one of the best starters in the AL.||—||14-26|
|Andrew Benintendi resembles his 2018 self. He’s a free agent at the end of the season, too, which is good timing for his financial well-being but also means he’s a trade candidate before the deadline.||1||14-26|
|Remember in 2019 when Josh Bell (then with the Pirates) was one of the best hitters in baseball for a stretch and then bottomed out? He’s now 0 for his last 22. Uh oh.||1||14-28|
|I’m going to assume pretty much every other ranker out there mindlessly put the Reds 30th again. After all, they have the worst record. Here’s my thought process: It’s only a four-game difference. The Pirates have a worse run differential. The Reds have gone 9-5 since that brutal start and in that time, they’ve gone 4-3 against the Pirates. More succinct: I just think the Reds are a better team right now.||1||12-28|
|That run differential stat in the Reds comment above, it’s true even if we remove the 21-0 loss to the Cubs. The Pirates have the worst run differential in baseball by 24 runs. They’ll have the worst record soon enough.||7||16-24|