Alright, class, what have we learned over the past six months of Major League Baseball?
For starters, never throw in the towel on a Hall of Famer pursuing 700 career home runs, assume until further notice that anyone Atlanta calls up is going to be an NL Rookie of the Year candidate and Cleveland has way more talent than anyone realized in the preseason.
Baltimore and Seattle have emerged as teams that could be contenders for years to come, Arizona might not be far behind them and, well, don't hold your breath in Cincinnati, Oakland or Washington.
And did you know Aaron Judge isn't the Yankees' top slugger?
We've put together a list of one key thing we've learned about every team in this 2022 MLB regular season.
Teams are presented in alphabetical order by location. Statistics current through the start of play on Sunday, October 2.
What We've Learned: They might just be a piece or two away from legitimately contending.
The Diamondbacks were supposed to be one of the worst teams in the majors, but they had a surprisingly competent 2022 campaign. If you take out games against the postseason-bound Dodgers and Padres—against whom Arizona went a combined 10-28—they actually had a winning record. This in spite of paying Madison Bumgarner a whole lot of money for little return on investment for the second successive season.
Center fielder Daulton Varsho and starting pitcher Zac Gallen both had major breakout seasons. First baseman Christian Walker racked up 62 extra-base hits. Recent call-ups Corbin Carroll (OF), Drey Jameson (SP) and outfielders Alec Thomas and Jake McCarthy are all in their age-24 season or younger and look like legitimate building blocks for long-term success.
It was a sub-.500 season, but a productive one. And basically everyone should be back in 2023. Even in a tough division, Arizona could be a contender as early as next season with just one or two semi-significant pickups in free agency.
What We've Learned: Farm-system rankings aren't exactly gospel.
Coming into the season, MLB.com had Atlanta listed as the 27th-best (fourth-worst) farm system in the majors, in large part because it had given up a couple of highly rated prospects (Cristian Pache and Sean Langeliers) in the Matt Olson trade.
Lo and behold, there are probably going to be NL Rookie of the Year ballots that exclusively consist of young stars from Atlanta.
Center fielder Michael Harris II and long-reliever-turned-ace-starter Spencer Strider are surely going to finish first and second in that ROY vote, while mid-August call-up Vaughn Grissom is at least worthy of consideration as the NL's third-best rookie, even with his minimal service time.
And that, my friends, is how you lose Freddie Freeman and get even better.