in

A Peek At The MLB Standings, Plus A Full Breakdown

We’re now a few weeks into the MLB season and a couple teams have shocked us, so we figured now was the perfect time to do a standings check. We know it’s way too early to predict playoff contenders or pretenders, but early overreactions are just too fun.

Here’s a full look at every division in baseball:

What to take from all this:

NL West

Let’s start in the National League. The Los Angeles Dodgers will win the NL West and we won’t really dive deep into this. The best offense in the league combined with an already dominant pitching staff have slingshot the boys in blue to an 8-2 start — and that’s all while Trevor Bauer remains on administrative leave. He’ll return and widen the gap between the Dodgers and any other team in that division. Oh, and they signed Freddie Freeman when they were already the best team. It’s a rough time for these other squads in the NL West.

But a pleasant surprise in the division is the Colorado Rockies going 7-3 over their first 10 games. The addition of Kris Bryant for seven years, $182 million perhaps set the tone for this organization. Well, apparently that message stuck because the Rockies seem to be trying. And I know it sounds ridiculous to praise teams for attempting to win ballgames, but tanking has been a huge issue in Major League Baseball. Plus, it’s obvious why the Rockies may feel compelled to tank when the Dodgers loom large in the division. Nevertheless, we’re happy to see Colorado come out swinging.

The San Francisco Giants at 7-2 really shouldn’t take anyone by surprise, considering they were a solid unit last year. Cy Young candidate Logan Webb is off to a hot start, having tossed 14 innings over his first two starts to an ERA of 1.29. And don’t get it twisted that Webb is carrying any type of load. MLB.com ranked the Giants’ starting rotation at No. 6 back in March with the pick up of left-handed flamethrower Carlos Rodon. The team also returned right-hander Anthony DeSclafani, who pitched one heck of a season in 2021. They are a more realistic contender to the Dodgers for the division, although they’re unlikely to unseat them. Instead, consider them a true dark horse for the Wild Card in October.

The San Diego Padres are dealing with the loss of superstar shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. and a few rough starts out of the rotation. Nothing major to freak out about except Tatis Jr. playing soccer in the outfield while he works back from injury. The 23-year-old All-Star underwent surgery back in March for a fractured wrist injured in a motorcycling accident that’ll sideline him a couple months. Not a good look when your $340 million player is more worried about looking like Ronaldo than he is returning to the baseball field. And we likely won’t take the Padres seriously until their best player begins to treats this like a job.

And last but also least, the Arizona Diamondbacks. They are off to a limping start, as expected. There’s just not much to that roster. At least they have a monster farm system that currently holds four of baseball’s top-100 prospects, according to MLB.com.

NL East

The New York Mets are off to the strong start they needed at 7-3. A spring training injury to ace Jacob deGrom hasn’t helped, but the signing of Max Scherzer made people forget that quickly. Now, the Mets are probably looking at deGrom as more of a mid-season signing, as they’re already reaping the benefits of signings like Starling Marte in center field and All-Star RHP Chris Bassitt. Looks like owner Steve Cohen’s deep pockets are paying off already.

Hovering around .500 are the Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves, so we can’t read too much into either squad yet. They’ve both played serviceable ball thus far, and most of their expected contributors have done their part. Marlins’ young stud at shortstop, Jazz Chisholm, is raking early, hitting .318 on the season with 10 RBI. The Braves notably replaced long-time first baseman Freddie Freeman in a monster trade to land Matt Olson from the Oakland A’s. That move seems to have steadied the tide until NL MVP candidate Ronald Acuna Jr. returns from a torn ACL, perhaps in July.

The Philadelphia Phillies have disappointed out the gate, losing seven of their first 11 contests despite a relatively light schedule. That offense is still deadly with additions of Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber, however they still didn’t do enough to address that pitching. Their starting rotation of Aaron Nola, Kyle Gibson, Zach Eflin, Zach Wheeler and Ranger Suarez have ERAs of 73, 132, 92, 44 and 70 respectively — league average is 100. Not enough, no matter how many runs you score.

Juan Soto and the Washington Nationals are rebuilding, so they won’t be factors in 2022. They’re more concerned with building prospects like Keibert Ruiz, Josiah Gray and Gerardo Carillo, whom they received in the blockbuster trade that sent Max Scherzer and Trea Turner to the Dodgers. Soto is set to become a free agent in 2025, and the Nationals know super agent Scott Boras already has his eyes on major markets in free agency. That means the Nationals have only a couple years left with the perennial All-Star before he darts. Either that or they ink the 23-year-old to an extension that league executives anticipate to hover around the 14-year, $550 million mark. Washington spends — they just might do it.

NL Central

Overall, no team stands out in the National League Central. The St. Louis Cardinals lead the division at 5-3, while everyone else hovers around .500. Our only real surprise is Chicago Cubs rookie Seiya Suzuki. He was tied for the league-lead in homers (4) this past weekend, which means a green light for the Cubs to start spending again soon. Nothing stops an owner from spending like a fizzling rookie phenom, so this bodes well for the future in Chi-town.

AL East

The New York Yankees sit at .500, but given their owner’s expectations, it’s not enough. It looks like the same ol’ team — an epic pitching staff that hasn’t been supported by their offense the past few years. Aaron Hicks, refreshingly, has returned to 2017 form thus far and even earned a lineup promotion to lead off. Still hasn’t been enough when starters Joey Gallo, Josh Donaldson, Gleyber Torres and Anthony Rizzo haven’t contributed. Aaron Judge has been just okay after turning down a $230 million extension, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. The bats better wake up before the division passes them by.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has proven himself to be a triple crown threat in the American League. His start is almost exclusively why the Toronto Blue Jays stand at the top of this division thus far. Contributions from left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and George Springer returning to the leadoff spot have also helped. Easily the best lineup in the division that can assure themselves a division title if their starting rotation holds up. Not exactly a given since the Blue Jays lost Cy Young winner Robbie Ray to the Seattle Mariners.

Boston also sits at .500 (5-5) that seems to be in no man’s land as an overall unit. The Boston Red Sox inked former Rookie Trevor Story to a six-year, $140 million contract that would suggest they’re buyers who fall short on extending homegrown studs like Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers. Neither player agreed to a new deal this past offseason, despite the organization being in close contact with both. Still, a juggernaut of an offense that, like the Philadelphia Phillies, will struggle to get outs. A rib injury to ace Chris Sale won’t help. Where they head this season and these next couple of years is a mystery to us all.

The Baltimore Orioles are still refusing to spend with their $35 million payroll, so we’ll wait to take them seriously when that’s remedied. And last but certainly not least: the Tampa Bay Rays. They always somehow manage to do more with less and it wouldn’t leave us scratching our heads if they managed to hoist another American League East banner. They just know what they’re doing in Tampa, however they will have to navigate the loss of outfielder Austin Meadows, who’s already raking in Detroit. They will — simply defying the odds every year.

AL Central

The Chicago White Sox are the class of this division that pitches well and has essentially mastered the art of old school hitting. Contact-first approaches up and down that lineup that begins with star shortstop Tim Anderson. But don’t let the contact fool you. They’re still 11th in home runs as a team and striking out less often than all but two teams in baseball. That’s how you kick off a season and set the tone for what’s to come in the remaining six months.

Every other team in this division hasn’t shown much, so we’ll discuss what’s going on. Minnesota Twins star Carlos Correa, who missed most of spring training in contract negotiations and over the lockout, is off to a frigid start hitting just .176. And that’s after a two-hit night last night. It’s been that type of launch to his season. But they’ll be fine as an offense that needs to get outs. Due to the ban last year on spider-tac, many rotations have taken a step back, so getting outs has been a challenge for most teams. We expect the Twins to contend for the division at some point, but more likely as a wild card to lose to the Yankees, per usual.

Jose Ramirez recently inked a seven-year, $141 million deal with the Cleveland Guardians that finally got him the pay he deserves. Cleveland, again, has groomed top-notch starting pitching that seems to be never-ending. Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac, Cal Quantrill, Aaron Civale and Triston McKenzie headline that starting rotation that’s held their own so far. They always pitch well, so it’s really a matter of the Guardian offense finding its way around Jose Ramirez. Luckily, rookie sensation Steven Kwan has been unreal the first couple weeks of the season, hitting .385. He’s hitless in his past 11 at-bats — that’s how good the 24-year-old outfielder was the first couple weeks…

AL West

Somehow, some way, the Houston Astros are at the top of the American League Central. Yes, it’s early but Houston continues to rake at the plate. Makes sense when you look at that lineup, even after losing George Springer to the Blue Jays a couple years ago and Carlos Correa to the Twins.

Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Tucker, Michael Brantley…do we need to go on? They’ve put on a masterclass in developing offensive talent, and it’s clear they have a surplus of bats. Ace RHP Justin Verlander also just returned from Tommy John surgery and he’s been sensational. They’re in first place where they’ll likely stay if healthy. Unfortunately, Jose Altuve did come out of last night’s 8-3 home win over the Angels with a strained hamstring.

The Los Angeles Angeles, despite making a few additions to their bullpen, are mostly the same team. They’re 6-5 currently and already dealing with multiple missed games from an injured or sick Mike Trout and third baseman Anthony Rendon. Two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani is off to a slow start, both on the mound and at the plate. If the Angels want any chance to keep pace with Houston, they’ll need both their MVPs to be available and play with their hair on fire. That and recently signed flamethrower Noah Syndergaard needs to provide a punch on the mound. Don’t count on it.

The Seattle Mariners are another 5-5 squad except they hold some promise. Another slow start from Jared Kelenic, who’s starting to find his footing these past couple games. The arrival of future star Julio Rodriguez will also make a difference this year. The fact that their offense is showing some signs of life while that pitching staff that brought in AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray could mean a wild card berth, worst case. We honestly hope so, too, because they haven’t played in the playoffs since 2001. It’s time.

Having said all of this, it’s much too early to push the panic button on any of these teams. Some hitters need a month to get going, while other teams need time to get healthy. All types of factors make this way-too-early peek at the standings a waste of time, but we did it anyway because we love baseball. Cheers to a healthy campaign for all these players.

We’ll do another one of these in a month or so.

 

 

 

 

Written by Gary Sheffield, Jr

Gary Sheffield Jr is the son of should-be MLB Hall of Famer, Gary Sheffield. He covers basketball and baseball for OutKick.com, chats with the Purple and Gold faithful on LakersNation, and shitposts on Twitter. You can follow him at GarySheffieldJr

Leave a Reply

to comment on this post. Not a VIP? Signup Here