After two months of the season, we have started to see what or who has done well this year. Some players have been a surprise early on, with young players taking the league by storm or others coming back from poor play in previous seasons.
On the other side of the ball, we have seen players brought up as top prospects and not be productive, or even big names come in from trades or free agency and not bring the same level of play to their new teams.
There can be multiple options to apply to each of these two areas with every team. I will mention some of them if I feel it was a close race and wanted to bring attention to more than one player, but it is all just from my perspective, and you might see it differently … especially if you are a fan of a specific team and watch these players on a more regular basis.
Let me know of any other potential players who could have been included in this article in the comment section. I would love to have a conversation with anyone who reads this article about baseball.
We will start in the American League East with the biggest surprise and disappointment for every team.
Surprise: Austin Hays
Hays has come into the season, hitting much better than in previous years. He currently has the highest OPS+ on the team, bumping it up 23 points compared to his last season. Hopefully, he can get his defense back to his 2020 form, but that might be difficult with the new wall in left field. It would be interesting to see if they look to extend him.
Disappointment: Cedric Mullins
In 2021 Ceddy really broke out for the O’s, making the All-Star team and finishing the season with a Silver Slugger award and ninth in American League in MVP voting. This season has not gone as well, losing his stroke at the plate to only being about an average hitter and not performing as well defensively. He looked like he might be a cornerstone for Baltimore but, at the moment, seems more like an average player.
Boston Red Sox
Surprise: J.D Martinez
Martinez has been a fantastic hitter for several years now, but I do not think anyone expected him to be as good as he has been. He is currently fourth in all of MLB in OPS at 1.020 and tied for second on his team in bWAR, which is impressive for a guy who only plays designated hitter. It is a contract year, so that might be some additional motivation for him.
Michael Wacha has also been great this season, but I don’t see it lasting, so I went with Martinez instead.
Disappointment: Bobby Dalbec
I considered going with Nathan Eovaldi here, but his underlying numbers look strong enough to see a future turnaround.
Dalbec was more of a clear choice as he has been awful at the plate after a solid rookie campaign. Sometimes these things can be predictable, especially for a young player with little experience. However, he actually underperformed expected numbers last season, so I figured his numbers would look pretty similar if he were to regress. Boston might have to swap him out for top prospect Triston Casas pretty soon.
New York Yankees
Surprise: Luis Severino
Gleyber Torres was definitely an option here as he completely turned his play around. Still, I think Severino has to be the choice after all his injuries and basically not playing since 2018. Sevvy has returned and looked almost exactly like the pitcher he was four years ago, a rotation leader once again.
Disappointment: Kyle Higashioka
There are some other names to consider for this in Gallo, Hicks, and Loaisiga, but I have reasons for not choosing them. Gallo and Jonny Lasagna have solid underlying numbers to suggest a potential turnaround. And I don’t think Yankee fans expected much out of Hicks anyway for him to be that disappointing.
Higgy has shown promise on the plate, with him underperforming in previous seasons to suggest he could even be better at the plate than he has been. However, he has gone the other direction, losing all production he had with the bat.
Tampa Bay Rays
Surprise: Shane McClanahan
After a promising rookie season, Shane has turned it up a notch. While writing this, he has a 2.06 ERA and 2.52 FIP, also leading the league in strikeouts, with his expected numbers matching up well. His xFIP and SIERA actually look even better at 1.86 and 2.05. The Rays have found yet another stud pitcher to lead their rotation.
Disappointment: Mike Zunino
What a year he had in 2021, eh? Over 30 home runs, a .860 OPS and 4.5 FanGraphs WAR. He has been the antithesis of that season so far in 2022. A .536 OPS with only four home runs, and even his typically great framing has been worse based on Baseball Savant. Francisco Mejia has been solid in covering up for Zunino. Still, him even being an average hitter would help out this lineup.
Toronto Blue Jays
Surprise: Santiago Espinal
Last season he finished as a surprise, and he seems to be doubling down. His numbers are relatively similar regarding his slash line at the plate, but the underlying numbers show the difference. He has already matched his total for doubles and home runs to last season in 49 fewer games. Changing it to be on par or slightly above his expected numbers from overperforming last year. On top of his plus defense, the Jays have a lock at second base.
Disappointment: Jose Berrios
I am sure this is not the type of production Toronto was expecting when they signed Berrios to a seven-year extension. He is currently sitting at a 4.75 ERA and 4.51 FIP, with expected numbers looking about the same. He has been solid in his past two outings, so hopefully, that is a sign he is starting to get back on track.