By Brady Kas, IUPUI Sport Management and Analytics Undergraduate Student
The 2022 MLB season has officially wrapped up, as the Houston Astros have defeated the Philadelphia Phillies to claim their second title in six years. As it is with every season, there were highs and lows for every team. For example, the Phillies were seven games under .500 when they fired Joe Girardi in early June. Nobody would’ve predicted the run they would eventually go on in October to make the World Series. Staying in the NL East, the Mets had their best season in a long time winning 101 games in the regular season, yet it still wasn’t enough to win their own division. To wrap up the season, I decided to dig into the numbers, and find one stat for each team from this past season, that best summarized their performance in 2022. To begin, let’s start in the American League East.
New York Yankees (99-63): 62
Could it be anything else? Aaron Judge had one of the greatest offensive seasons in MLB history and is likely on his way to claiming his first MVP award. Take a look at the chart below that details the most home runs in one season in MLB history.
It’s well documented the all the players above Judge have been accused of using PEDs throughout their career, and that’s why I put the asterisk next to their names. While Judge did not reach those numbers, this season was nothing short of spectacular, and he’ll cash in this winter as he’s a free agent for the first time in his career.
Toronto Blue Jays (92-70): 1.52 HR/9
This was a season full of promise for fans up north, but the Blue Jays never really seemed to get going. Sure, 92 wins is nothing to be ashamed of, but their pitching staff really let them down this year, and that all started with their ace Jose Berrios. Berrios had a 1.52 HR/9 inning this past season, which tied him for the most in MLB among starting pitchers. Simply put, he had a hard time keeping the ball in the yard. Berrios needs to step up for the Jays moving forward after signing a 7yr/$131 million contract last offseason.
Tampa Bay Rays (86-76): 666
The Rays had their worst season since 2017, as they won just 86 games, and lost to the Guardians in the postseason. The pitching was good this year, and did it’s best to carry the team, but the offense was just too inconsistent to make any serious noise in the postseason. They were able to score just 666 runs this season, which ranked in the bottom ten in the MLB, and they were the only team in the bottom ten to make the playoffs this season. Look for the Rays to try and sign a couple bats for cheap this winter to improve that offense.
Baltimore Orioles (83-79): 31
No team in MLB surprised the league more than the Baltimore Orioles in 2022. After winning just 52 games in 2021, they won 83 in 2022. That 31-win improvement from season-to-season is remarkable and was predicted by nobody in the industry. Even though they finished fourth in their division, they were no longer the laughingstock of the AL East – or MLB for that matter. Adley Rutschman is better than expected, and more young guys will be coming next year to bolster that team. If I’m the GM of O’s, the time is now, and I’m going all in to try and bring a championship back to Baltimore within the next five years.
Boston Red Sox (78-84): 8.5%
As exciting as the Orioles were this past season, no team was more disappointing than the Boston Red Sox. There’s a lot of things that went wrong this past season for the Red Sox, but the pitching staff was getting rocked all season. For this stat, we need to understand a key term, and that’s barrel percentage. Barrel% is another advanced metric, and all it’s really measuring is how square the hitters are hitting the ball. As you might suspect, the squarer the batter hits the ball, the harder it’s hit, and the farther it goes. Now, back to the Red Sox. The pitchers for the Sox allowed a barrel% of 8.5% this season– which was the highest in the league in 2022. For a team with playoff aspirations before the season started, this is unacceptable. For a team paying over $75 million to its pitchers, this number must go down next season if they want to compete.
Cleveland Guardians (92-70): 26.1
The Guardians were a fun mix this past season of old school and new school baseball. They stole 119 bases and had 74 sacrifice hits this past season, both ranking top three in baseball. They were also the youngest team in baseball with an average age of 26.1. They play in the worst division in baseball, but the Guardians still were not expected to be this good this year. They have a great manager in Terry Francona, and as long as he’s around, expect the Guardians to be competitive.
Chicago White Sox (81-81): .500
Average. That’s the one word to describe this past season in Chicago. The White Sox were expected to run away with this division in April, but that never happened. Take a look at this table below:
|Last 50 Games||
|Last 70 Games||
|Last 120 Games||
|Last 150 Games||
|Last 170 Games||
|Last 190 Games||
Like I said, this was the most average team in baseball. They were the definition of consistent, but that just wasn’t good enough on the South Side this season.
Minnesota Twins (78-84): 2,363
It’s tough for a season to ever get going when injuries affect every part of the team, and that was exactly what happened this year up in Minnesota. Injuries happen to every team, but the Twins were hit harder than most. They had a combined 2,363 days on the IL this season, which was the second most in baseball, only behind the Reds. From Carlos Correa to Sonny Gray to Byron Buxton, everyone seemed to get hurt, and the main focus of this offseason for the Twins has to be health.
Detroit Tigers (66-96): 22
The Tigers offense this year was awful. There’s no other way to put it, the Tigers offense put up one of the worst performances ever, and that was shocking considering the prospects they had, and the signing of Javy Baez this past offseason. Detroit was shut out 22 times last year, a modern-day record, but their struggles go much deeper than thought. They hit the fewest homers, scored the fewest runs, and had the highest strikeout percentage in the league. Fortunately for Tigers fans, the offense can only get better, but this was a very disappointing year in Detroit.
Kansas City Royals (65-97): -19 DRS
The Royals weren’t necessarily expected to compete for a championship, or even a playoff spot this season, but they were expected to show improvement. That did not happen. Bobby Witt Jr. showed out during his rookie year, but he struggled on the defensive side. This isn’t uncommon for young players, and looking back at history, there’s plenty of really good players who struggle on defense early on in their career, but Witt’s -19 DRS was the worst in baseball this season. We’ve seen flashes of the glove, but now it’s time for the consistency to improve for Witt and his team.
Houston Astros (106-56): 0
This has to feel good for Astros fans. Yes, there will always be doubt about the 2017 championship, but there is zero doubt about this year. The Astros were simply the best, and most consistent team in the sport this year, which ended with a championship going back to Houston. Taking a step back, it’s really amazing to see what Houston has accomplished over the last six years. They’ve won two championships, four AL pennants, and averaged 102.4 regular season wins over the last five full seasons (excluding the COVID shortened season). Dynasty is a term thrown around a lot, but Houston is no doubt the dynasty of this generation.
Seattle Mariners (90-72): $470 million
$$$. The actual value of Julio Rodriguez’s deal is 12yr/$209.3 million but could be worth $470 million with incentives. Nevertheless, Rodriguez is a superstar in this league, and he led the Mariners back to the playoffs for the first time since 2001. The M’s play in a tough division with the Astros, but they certainly look like the team of the future in that division. They have an aggressive President of Baseball Operations in Jerry Dipoto, and an owner who’s shown he’s willing to spend. It’s an exciting time to be a Mariners fan.
LA Angels (73-89): 1 and 2
I cheated a little bit with this stat, but there’s no other stat I could’ve used to describe the Angels. Heading into the season, MLB Network does a ranking each year where they rank the top 100 players in the sport. The two players at the top of this list were teammates, Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout, both of whom play for the Angels. Despite this, the Angels finished 16 games below .500, and missed the playoffs again. LA can’t seem to figure out the rest of the roster outside of these two generational players, and their time with both of them might be winding down as Ohtani is a free agent in 2024.
Texas Rangers (68-94): 19
You could make a case that Marcus Semien was the MVP of the Rangers team this year, however, you could also make an argument that his start to the season is what cost them any chance of making the postseason. The biggest change for Semien, was his performance against the fastball this season compared to the 2021 year. Take a look at the chart below.
|Stats off Fastball||
Now, I understand these stats are very basic, and some might consider them outdated, but their still relevant. Semien struggled this year against the fastball, and you just don’t see that very often from elite players. This will be a major focus point for the Rangers and Semien this offseason.
Oakland A’s (60-102): 9,973
The A’s were expected to be bad this year, and that they were. They were one of the worst teams in baseball the entire year, and that’s disappointing considering the fanbase they have out in Oakland. With that being said, the Athletics averaged 9,973 fans at their home games this year – lowest in the league. I understand there are a lot of factors and variables that went into this number, but this is brutal. It looks like the team will be moving to Vegas soon, and hopefully by then the team will be competitive.
Atlanta Braves (101-61): 70%
While the season didn’t end the way the Braves wanted it to, this season was still a positive one in Atlanta. After winning it all in 2021, the Braves got off to a slow start at 24-28 but finished the year going 77-33 over last 110 games to finish with the record that’s shown above. In those last 110 games, they had a winning percentage of 70%, thanks in large part to Dansby Swanson and Austin Riley in the infield, as well as Max Fried and Spencer Strider on the mound.
New York Mets (101-61): 175
What a brutal year for the Mets. A year that started off so well came to a crashing end in the Wild Card game against the Padres. New York overcame so much this year, rather it be injuries to Jacob deGrom or Max Scherzer, this team felt different than other Mets teams in recent years. The Mets lead this division for 175 days during the season, and it’s not like they really played bad at any point. The Braves just played that good. Take a look at the race chart below, and you can see why this season was so devastating for Mets fans.
(Graph from erikberg.com)
As I said above, the Mets led for 175 days this season. They didn’t play bad after May – the Braves just played better.
Philadelphia Phillies (87-75): 65
What a ride it was this season in Philly. Things started off slow, and things eventually took a turn for the worse. It was reported that reigning MVP Bryce Harper had torn his UCL, and that he would be out an extended period of time. Not too long after, Joe Girardi was relieved of his duties as manager, and that’s when things began to change. Rob Thomson took over for the Phillies, and guided them to a 65-46 record, which is good enough for a 95-win pace over a regular 162 game schedule. Kyle Schwarber, or Schwarbs, as most people like to call him, smashed a career high 46 home runs in 2022, and the teams’ young players, Alec Bohm and Bryson Stott stepped up when needed to in the second half of the season. Philadelphia should be an exciting team to watch next season.
Miami Marlins (69-93): 228.2
Not much went right for the Marlins this season, but rather than dwell on the negatives, I want to talk about the positives. The pitching staff for the Marlins was decent all year, in large part because of the likely NL Cy Young Award Winner Sandy Alcantara. Alcantara pitched a whopping 228.2 innings this season – which was over 23 innings more than the next closest player. He was a workhorse for Miami all year and threw six complete games in his 32 starts. Miami needs to get their offense figured out, but the pitching staff is exactly where you’d like it to be.
Washington Nationals (55-107): 5
It’s hard to believe that just three years ago in 2019 the Nationals were World Series champions. Their team looks a lot different now, and that’s evident by their record this season of just 55-107. At the trade deadline, GM Mike Rizzo decided to trade his franchise player Juan Soto, and got back five really good young players, as well as veteran Luke Voit from the San Diego Padres. This trade will define how good the Nationals are for the next 10-15 years, and if they end up winning another championship in that window, you can guarantee that those five players will play a huge role in that. It’ll be another long season next year for Nationals fans, however, at least you have some exciting prospects to look forward to down the road.
St. Louis Cardinals (93-69): 703
The St. Louis Cardinals had not one, but two Hall of Famers retire this offseason. Longtime catcher Yadier Molina and DH/1B Albert Pujols called it a career after the 2022 season. For this post, we have to focus on what Pujols did in the second half of the season because it’s truly remarkable. Here a few stats that compare Pujols’ first half, to his second half.
I mean these numbers right here are just absurd for any player, yet alone someone who’s 42 years old. Using this insane second half, Pujols was able to become just the fourth player in MLB history with 700 home runs, and he finished his illustrious career with 703.
Milwaukee Brewers (86-76): 16.7%
The Brewers struggled down the stretch this season, and their season ultimately ended in disappointment. The one thing I keep asking myself when I watch this teams is what happened to Chistian Yelich? He was so good for the Brew Crew just a couple years ago but can’t seem to get it figured out now. Digging into the stats, I found his fly ball% to be really interesting, and this measures how often Yelich is hitting the ball in the air. This is something that I’ve been tracking and looking at since Yelich got to Milwaukee in 2018, and immediately became an MVP player. I think this is best explained by looking at a line graph, so here it is below:
As we can tell by looking at the chart, Yelich has never been able to re-establish that 28.10% he had in his fifth year back in 2018, or even the 22.60% he had in his sixth season. The only thing I can think of is the injury Yelich sustained in 2019 where he broke his kneecap is still affecting him today. He’s not able to get out in front, or underneath, the ball like he once did a couple years ago, and that is why we’ve seen the struggles from the former MVP.
Chicago Cubs (74-88): 1901
This one is a little crazy, so stay with me. At the trade deadline, the Cubs traded reliever Scott Effross to the Yankees, in exchange for a minor league pitcher named Hayden Wesneski. Being a Cubs fan, I was a little surprised and shocked to see us trade a reliever who had been really good for us this year and had so many years of control left on his contract, for a minor league player, who I had honestly not heard much about. That all changed when Wesneski was called up towards the end of the season. His stuff was electric, and his slider was devastating to hitters. In his MLB debut, Wesneski threw five shoutout innings in the win, struck out eight batters, and gave up zero runs – something that had not been done by a Cubs pitcher since 1901. Fans on the North Side are no longer happy being called the “Loveable Losers,” so expect Jed Hoyer to be aggressive this offseason and sign multiple players to big deals.
Cincinnati Reds (62-100): 3
The Reds got off to one of the worst starts in MLB history starting the year 3-22. The Reds became just one of three teams in the modern Major League history to win three or fewer games in their first 25 contests, before correcting their ship, and going 41-41 over their next 82 games. However, their season was already over, and there was no recovering from that start. The Reds were one of the worst teams in baseball last year, and that doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon.
Pittsburgh Pirates (62-100): 97.8 MPH
While the Pirates might have lost 100 games last season, you’re starting to see the rewards for losing all those years in younger players making their debuts in the league. Ke’Bryan Hayes is a young, but promising player for the Pirates, who was finally able to stay healthy this year, and put together a really productive years for Pittsburgh. However, no player had a bigger debut this year than Oneil Cruz. Cruz, who stands at 6-7 and weighs 220lbs, graced the middle infield for the Pirates, and dazzled fans across the country with his right arm. Consistency was an issue for him this year, but his glove provided the highlights, including the fastest throw from an infielder in the Statcast era, which measured at 97.8mph.
LA Dodgers (111-51): 52.1%
The Dodgers had another wildly successful season, and while they say money can’t buy you happiness, LA is proof that it can. Sure, they got bounced out earlier in the postseason than they expected to, but with a payroll of over $275 million Dave Roberts led his team to the most wins in franchise history. With all that being said, the one stat I chose to talk about has nothing to do with payroll, but rather something that’s going away next year, and that’s the shift. For those who don’t know, MLB announced some rule changes for the 2023 season, and one of those included limiting shifts for teams. No other team will be impacted more by this than the Dodgers, as they shifted the most in baseball at 52.1%, however, I don’t think this change will impact their win total a lot in 2023 and beyond.
San Diego Padres (89-73): 20
We talked about it earlier for the Nationals, but the Padres went all in this season trading away most of their top prospects for Juan Soto. This is a team that already included stars such as Manny Machado and Yu Darvish, but they were lacking that superstar player that Soto is. Unfortunately for San Diego, they already had that superstar player, however, he missed all of last season because of an injury sustained in a motorcycle accident before the season began, and then as he was rehabbing in the minors, he tested positive for PEDs. That players is of course Fernando Tatis Jr., and he still has 20 games remaining on his PED suspension that he needs to serve to begin next season. The Padres are a team that has the talent to win it all, but they can’t do it without Tatis. He signed a massive $340 million contract not long ago, and it’s time for him show San Diego he deserves every penny he’s owed over the next 12 years.
San Francisco Giants (81-81): 15.7 oWAR
If we’re being honest, the Giants overachieved in 2021. Everything that could go right, seemed to go right for San Francisco, and none of us should have been surprised to see them fall back down to .500 this year. When looking through the stats, the one thing that struck me was just how much worse their offense was this year compared to last year. First off, we need to explain what oWAR means. This is a stat similar to WAR, that looks at all aspects of a hitter. WAR looks at all things on defense and offense, while oWAR, looks at just the offensive statistics. Essentially, oWAR is measuring how valuable of an offensive player you are. As a team in 2021, they had an oWAR of 31.0 – which helped them win 107 games and the NL West, compared to this year, where they had an oWAR of just 15.7. Honestly, there wasn’t one guy who struggled this year that caused this decrease, but rather every player regressed this season. Also, another thing I must add that the stats can’t show, I think this team really missed Buster Posey this year, who retired last offseason. He brought so much to a team besides just being a great catcher, but his leadership and presence in the clubhouse was missed this season.
Arizona Diamondbacks (74-88): 31.5 ft/second
The Diamondbacks became one of my favorite teams to watch in the second half of the season. Things began to click, and the team began to win more and more games. This was in large part because of their younger prospects they called up, including Corbin Carroll. Carroll only appeared in 32 games this season for the D-backs, but he was electric in those 32 games. He brought a spark to that lineup that had been missing, however, his best attribute is his speed. Carroll clocked in at 31.5 ft/sec running around the bases this year – the fastest in the Statcast era. Again, Arizona is a team who’s done a lot of losing the last few years, but it looks like that could be changing here soon.
Colorado Rockies (68-94): 504ft
Finally, let’s talks about the Rockies. To be completely honest, I have no idea what Colorado is doing right now. I thought they were going to rebuild after trading Nolan Arenado and letting Trevor Story walk in free agency. However, they went out and signed Kris Bryant to a $182 million deal, only for him to play 42 games for the Rockies this season. Nevertheless, C.J. Cron had a pretty solid year in 2022, and that included hitting the second longest home runs tracked in the Statcast era at 504 ft. It was a bad season in Denver, but at least they got to see Cron destroy some baseballs at Coors Field.
That wraps up this article, and I hope you enjoyed reading it. The MLB season is full or twists and turns, and the 2022 season was no different. As we say goodbye to one year, we say hello to another, so stay on the lookout for another article from me in the next week or so, detailing one free agent each team should sign this offseason.