We are now almost two full months into the 2022 MLB season and the surprise first week teams have mostly been relegated to where they were expected (looking at you Cubs) but a few teams have started heating up. Let's take a look.
The Boston Red Sox
Well into the season, people were worried whether Trevor Story's six-year, $140 million contract was a huge mistake. Up until 2022, Story played his entire career in the hitting-friendly confines of Coors Field. Well, he's here to tell us all he's no high-altitude fluke.
Over his last seven games, Story has 7 home runs and slashed a .345/.394/1.069 slash line. He's crushing the ball. He's the hottest hitter on the Red Sox, right? WRONG.
J.D Martinez is a man on fire. Martinez isn't putting up his normal numbers of a lot of dingers with low hit totals otherwise—he's putting Wade Boggs kind of contact up there. His last 7 game slash line is .571/.618/.679 slash line. Martinez hits bombs in his sleep. It's encouraging to see Martinez have so much contact, and power or not, hitting over .500 for any period is ridiculous. His season slash is now .380/.430/1.029. He's on fire.
The Red Sox have 71 runs over a 10-game span. Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts have been hot all season. The biggest question mark (or pockmark) for the Red Sox is the pitching staff. They need to slug.
The Minnesota Twins
What idiot picked the Chicago White Sox to run away with the American League Central division? It was me, I was the idiot. They still can, but right now the AL Central belongs firmly to the Minnesota Twins. How? They're 15th in the league in runs scored, 15th in home runs, and 15th in slugging. They sit average in those categories. Oh, yeah.
The Twins are fifth in MLB in ERA and eighth in strikeouts. These aren't elite pitching numbers, the Twins are just getting it done where they need to. Seven of the nine starters in the Twins lineup have an OPS+ of over 100 (100 being the league minimum) so they're hitting just enough. They currently have a 4.5-game lead over the under-achieving Chicago White Sox. Is this sustainable? The numbers would say probably not, but the Twins don't care. They're winning games.
The Milwaukee Brewers
In the other central division, the Milwaukee Brewers got off to an inauspicious start early on. Their elite pitching staff was getting shelled. Panic set in and everybody knew the Chicago Cubs were going to walk away with the division. Just kidding. The Brewers are 7-3 in their last ten. They're eighth in MLB in runs scored, fourth in home runs, and 10th in OPS. On the mound, they have the fourth-best ERA in the majors, lead MLB in strikeouts, and are fifth in home runs allowed. The monster rotation of Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, Freddy Peralta, and reliever Josh Hader make them scary in October.
Almost Made It
These teams are heating up, but not quite enough to make the list.
The defending champion Atlanta Braves are 5-5 in their last 10, but they've been slowly climbing up the National League East standings. Their offense strikes out a lot. They lead the majors in strikeouts on the offensive side. They also mash, as they're sixth in the league in home runs. They're 17th overall in runs scored. That number is going to have to come up if they want to catch the red-hot New York Mets. Pitching-wise, they've been...not great. They're 20th overall in ERA, but sixth in strikeouts. Kyle Wright and Max Fried have been terrific, as has reliever Kyle Spencer. Kenley Jansen recently blew another save but overall he has been very good. Father time has officially caught up to Charlie Morton, but the real problem has been the underperforming offense. Only three players are posting an OPS+ over 100. Ronald Acuña is back and is mashing, and that should help, as well as the surprise bat from William Contreras. The upcoming easier schedule should help Atlanta, and this team is just too loaded not to play better.
Winning six of their last 10 helps, but they need more consistency before they make the "heating up list."
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