Even though the 2022 MLB regular season is more than halfway finished, the league continues to deliver on unexpected outcomes. In fact, most of the drama preceded the season start as the MLB and its Players’ Association struggled to rehash a new bargaining agreement. Since then, there’s been almost non-stop thrills.
Rookies like Jake Burger (White Sox) and Brendan Donovan (Cardinals) have caused excitement with stellar (and unexpected) first-year performances. Meanwhile, the Phillies, Angels, and Blue Jays all cut ties with their team managers in June and July. Toss in a wild race for the AL Central and the 2022 MLB season has all the hallmarks of an unforgettable year.
At the moment, analysts are eyeing the Dodgers or the Astros to swipe the World Series. However, the Yankees and Mets aren’t far behind as their World Series championship odds continue to shorten. For now, it’s too early to predict how the season will conclude—especially with so many curveballs this year. Instead, let’s look back at four of the MLB’s biggest stories so far.
The Fallen Angels
Above, we mentioned that the Angels were one of three teams to cut ties with its general manager. Joe Maddon was in the midst of his third season with the Angels when Phil Nevin replaced him after a twelve-game losing streak. But by the time Nevin took the reigns in early June, the Angels’ season had already been lost.
Though things looked up for the Angels at the start of the season, with strong performances by Mike Trout, Taylor Ward, and Shohei Ohtani, the momentum quickly fizzled out. What began with a 27-17 start quickly descended into a 12-36 streak, sending the Angels’ season straight into a tailspin—and seemingly out of nowhere.
The Mets, Matt Scherzer, & Jacob DeGrom
Like the Angels this year, the Mets 2021 season started off strong before slipping away into another playoff-less year. However, the Mets looked to change their luck after signing on Hall of Fame caliber pitchers in both Matt Scherzer and Jacob DeGrom.
Unfortunately, injuries quickly took both Scherzer and DeGrom off the mound. But what’s more surprising than losing two leaders early on in the season? The fact that it hasn’t stopped the Mets from holding first place in the AL East. In fact, the Mets have stood at the top of their division since mid-April.
Three True Stats Take a Nosedive
For those uninterested in sabermetrics, the MLB’s ‘three true outcome’ stats relate to homeruns, strikes, and walks. Typically, the MLB has seen a steady incremental increase in the number of three true outcome stats each year. In fact, according to one study from The Athletic, these numbers haven’t shown a season-on-season decline since 2005.
That is, until this year. So far, the rates of homeruns, walks, and strikeouts have declined from their 2021 numbers. At the moment, many analysts are pointing to the MLB’s rule shift related to sticky substances, which is likely affecting the traction on the ball. Still, it will take further analysis and crunch the numbers post-season to determine a likely cause for the decline in three true outcome stats.
Padre Juan Soto
The MLB’s trade window, like most major league sports, is full of surprises. Most fans keep a lookout for major trades before they dive into rookie drafts. They try to predict the biggest deadline deals by studying players with upcoming ends in their contracts. The bigger the player, the more attention given.
But not many, if any, MLB fans had their eye on a Juan Soto trade. Sure, some were keeping an eye on the Washington Nationals; the team is in the midst of a franchise sale and a total rebuild of its farm system. But who would have thought the Nationals would trade a budding star at the start of his career and with two All-Star selections under his belt?
But right at the trade deadline, the deal was announced, and Soto packed up his bags and headed cross-country to the San Diego Padres. The Nationals got a slew of young players to bolster their roster… but none are likely to contribute the same star power and consistent performance that Soto has offered.