Most of the top free agents are already under contract, so we already have an idea of what each major league team will look like when the regular season starts on April 7. And, based on FanGraphs projections, there are several clubs that are expected to be much better than they were a year ago.
Focusing exclusively on teams projected to finish .500 or better in 2021 (sorry, Rangers), these are the teams expected to make the biggest jumps (in terms of aggregate wins) in 2022 – and maybe even make noise in the postseason fights.
Marlins: +15 wins
Record in 2021: 67-95 | Projected record for 2022: 82-80
After finishing 29th in the major leagues in runs scored (623) last season, the Marlins have spent the past few months making moves to beef up their lineup, signing two free agent outfielders, Avisaíl García and Jorge To usually do. They also acquired catcher Jacob Stallings in a trade with the Pirates. Those additions, combined with the continued development of youngsters like Jazz Chisholm Jr. and Jesus Sanchez, could give Miami a much stronger offense in 2022.
Once again, the Marlins are expected to have a solid rotation that will include Sandy Alcántara, Trevor Rogers, and Pablo López and Elieser Hernández in the top four spots. A variety of prospects from the past (Peruvian-Venezuelan Jesús Luzardo) and present (Dominican Edward Cabrera, Max Meyer) provide enough depth to overcome the absence of Sixto Sánchez, who had to suspend his baseball activities after experiencing discomfort in operated right shoulder. The NL East is shaping up to be one of the most competitive divisions in Major League Baseball, but Miami has at least placed it in the conversation.
Mets: +13 wins
Record in 2021: 77-85 | Projected record for 2022: 90-72
Drastic changes were needed after the Mets finished eight games under .500 in Steve Cohen’s first season as owner. New York has a new manager in Buck Showalter and a new general manager in Billy Eppler. The club’s roster looks very different from when the 2021 campaign concluded. Michael Conforto, Marcus Stroman, Puerto Rican Javier Báez, Rich Hill, Noah Syndergaard, Jonathan Villar, Kevin Pillar, Brad Hand, Dominican Jeurys Familia and Aaron Loup remained outside. Max Scherzer, Dominican Starling Marte, Chris Bassitt, Mark Canha, Venezuelan Eduardo Escobar and Adam Ottavino arrived, giving the Mets one of the most expensive rosters in the Major Leagues.
The result? A team FanGraphs projects the Mets will have the third-best record in the National League, though they would fall within two games of the reigning World Series champion Atlanta Braves. For all the pieces they’ve added, the Mets’ chances of overtaking Atlanta could hinge on the contribution of two returning stars, ace Jacob deGrom and shortstop Francisco Lindor. deGrom posted a 1.08 ERA last season, but dealt with elbow problems and threw just 92 innings. Lindor, for his part, lost 37 games and was close to the league average in batting (OPS + of 101).
Parents: +9 wins
Record in 2021: 79-83 | Projected record for 2022: 88-74
The Padres entered 2021 with big goals and for much of the year, everything went off without a hitch. After beating the Marlins on Aug. 10, San Diego was 67-49 with a five-game lead in the race for the second NL Wild Card. However, the Friars went 12-34 the rest of the way and finished under .500 for the 12th time in the last 14 seasons, so manager Jayce Tingler was fired and Bob Melvin was hired to replace him.
San Diego was quiet over the winter and will spend more than two months without All-Star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. as the Dominican is recovering from surgery to repair a broken wrist. But FanGraphs still projects the team will finish with nine more wins than in 2021. For that to be the case, the Padres will need to see better performances from Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Trent Grisham, Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers, plus a good return of Mike Clevinger after Tommy John surgery.
Twins: +8 wins
Record in 2021: 73-89 | Projected record for 2022: 81-81
After claiming the AL Central title in consecutive seasons, the Twins finished 16 games under .500 last season and appeared intent on rebuilding when they sent Puerto Rican ace José Berrios to the Blue Jays in July. and they also heard trade offers for outfielder Byron Buxton.
However, the Minnesota ninth gave Buxton a seven-year, $100 million extension in November, acquired in a trade for right-hander Sonny Gray and, after parting with the remainder of Josh Donaldson’s salary in a trade with the Yankees , stunned the baseball world by signing luxury shortstop Carlos Correa to a three-year, US$105.3 million contract that gives the Puerto Rican two chances to get out of the deal.
Phillies: +6 wins
Record in 2021: 82-80 | Projected record for 2022: 88-74
Although in 2021 Bryce Harper was recognized as the Most Valuable Player of the National League and Zack Wheeler finished in second place in the voting for the Cy Young Award of the Old Circuit, the Phillies went 82-80 and fell out of the playoffs for the 10th straight season. This is the second-longest postseason drought in the Majors, behind the Mariners, who have been in the 20-year mark. Now that they’ve added Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos for a combined $179 million, Fildelfia will try to end that streak with pure hits.
Philadelphia’s sluggish defense hasn’t improved, but the Phillies have a terrific offense, while Wheeler and Aaron Nola could make a formidable duo at the front of the rotation. On the other hand, there is the bullpen, which has been remodeled after another campaign to oblivion. Philadelphia’s bullpen had the worst ERA in the majors (7.06) in 2020 and the sixth-worst (4.60) last season. Whether replacing Hector Neris, Archie Bradley and Ian Kennedy with Corey Knebel, Brad Hand and Jeurys Familia will make a difference remains to be seen.
Angels: +5 wins
Record in 2021: 77-85 | Projected record for 2022: 82-80
The Angels have Shohei Ohtani, the reigning AL MVP. They have Mike Trout, who has won three AL MVP awards. And there’s Anthony Rendon, who finished third in the 2019 NL MVP voting. The problem is that there have been few times the Angels have had all three at the same time. Over the past two seasons, Ohtani, Trout and Rendon have been in the lineup together in just 50 of the Angels’ 222 games, including just 18 of 162 games in 2021, when Los Angeles-Anaheim missed the playoffs for a seventh season. consecutive.
Another problem? The Angels have struggled to put together a reliable starting rotation. Dating back to 2016, just 11 pitchers have made 20 or more starts for the Angels in a season. None have done it more than once in that span. Most of the team’s attempts to beef up the starting staff have failed. (Check out Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill in 2019, Colombian Julio Tehrán in 2020, and countryman José Quintana in 2021.)
This year, the club will try to make things work with Syndergaard, who has pitched just two innings since the end of the 2019 season, and Michael Lorenzen, who has made just five starts since the start of 2016. On the plus side, Patrick Sandoval, 25, and José Suárez, 24, showed potential last year, while Reid Detmers (the 21st MLB prospect) could be ready to take the next step after posting a 7.40 ERA in 20.2. innings in his 2021 debut. The team has also bolstered its bullpen by re-signing Cuban closer Raisel Iglesias to a four-year deal and adding Ryan Tepera, Loup and Bradley. Top of Form Pattern
But even if the Angels’ staff doesn’t noticeably improve this year, the fact that they have Ohtani, Trout and Rendon in their lineup would make them a threat. It’s just a matter of keeping those three stars healthy.
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Six teams that would make a big leap now