Exactly one month ago today, the 2022 Major League Baseball season finally began after a protracted lockout and a shortened spring training.
We don't know everything about all 30 of the league's teams just yet, but we know a lot more than we did before. As such, it's a good time for some initial takeaways.
I didn't have a carefully defined strategy in putting together this list, save for wanting to talk about early trends that are generally interesting. Some concern specific players, while others more so concern team-wide matters that are surprising. Or in some cases, not surprising.
Let's go division by division, starting in the American League East and ending in the National League West.
American League East
Baltimore Orioles (10-16): Jorge Lopez Is Really Good at His New Job
As their ERA is down two full runs from 2021, the Orioles' pitching is a heck of a success story in its own right. But if there's one hurler in particular who deserves the spotlight. It's this guy:
Before this season, Jorge Lopez was a middling starter with a good yet unexceptional fastball. Now he's chucking it up there around 100 mph as Baltimore's closer and shoving accordingly with a 1.32 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 13.2 innings.
Boston Red Sox (10-17): Not Much Has Changed Since the End of Last Year's ALCS
Remember when the Red Sox darn near went to the World Series in 2021, only for their bullpen and offense to let them down in the last three games of the American League Championship Series? Well, suffice it to say that nothing has really changed thus far in 2022. This doesn't mean the Red Sox can't possibly contend this season. But if they do, it'll only because they opted not to stick with what wasn't working.
New York Yankees (18-7): Early Rumors of Their Demise Were Greatly Exaggerated
Including by yours truly, who was spooked by how the problems the Yankees were having amid their slow start looked a lot like the issues that dogged them throughout 2021. An 11-game winning streak promptly followed, and it was all the more impressive for how well the Yankees played in all facets of the game.
And now for the part where I do my best Kill Bill impression: I overreacted.
Toronto Blue Jays (16-11): Three Pitchers Have Stolen the Show
Yeah, yeah. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., George Springer and so on. But the most impressive players on the Blue Jays right now are actually starters Kevin Gausman and Alek Manoah, who have a 1.87 ERA between them, and closer Jordan Romano, who already has 12 saves. All the more reason why the Blue Jays could be a terrifying postseason matchup if they get there.
Tampa Bay Rays (17-10): Shane McClanahan's Breakout Is Ongoing
There are all sorts of nice things to say about all sorts of Rays, up to and especially including hard-throwing lefty Shane McClanahan. He was something of a hidden gem in 2021, and now he's out there with a 3.06 ERA and 47 strikeouts through 32.1 innings. Plus, he's getting called and swinging strikes at a higher rate than reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes.