Batting Around: What team has been most surprising in 2022 MLB season — good or bad?

Throughout the season the CBS Sports MLB experts will bring you a weekly Batting Around roundtable breaking down pretty much anything. The latest news, a historical question, thoughts about the future of baseball, all sorts of stuff. Last week we detailed what we’d want in exchange for a milestone baseball. This week we’re going to discuss 2022’s biggest surprises.

Which team surprised you the most this season, good or bad?

R.J. Anderson: There are several teams who fit the bill for me in either direction. I was too bearish on the Guardians and Orioles, and too bullish on the Twins, White Sox, and Angels. I suspect others will pick the Orioles and White Sox, so I’ll roll with the Guardians. I expected star-level performances from Shane Bieber and José Ramírez, of course, but I undersold their supporting cast — and I certainly didn’t see Andrés Giménez having this kind of offensive output. (Don’t get me started on Oscar Gonzalez.) Kudos to the Guardians players and their coaching and front office staffs for making me look more like a clown than usual.

Matt Snyder: With major props to the Guardians and snickers in the direction of the White Sox, I’m going with the Orioles. Heading into the season, the Orioles had a gambling over/under set at 62.5 wins. That was the lowest total in all of baseball, a dreadfully low number and those in gambling circles realize and a full eight wins below where it was set for the likes of the A’s and Nationals. Not only were they expected to be bad, but if we looked to the expectations of their peers, they had to deal with the strongest quartet of any division. They started off poorly, as expected, ace John Means had to undergo Tommy John surgery and it looked like another 100-loss season. Instead, they are going to go from 52-110 likely to a winning record despite one of the toughest schedules, statistically, in baseball. 

For me, if we’re looking at any other picks here, you could squint your way to the outcome we’ve seen unfold this season. With the Orioles, anyone predicting a winning record in 2022 back in the spring would’ve been outright ignored on the premise that this person has no credibility and there isn’t much reason to even argue. And yet, here we are. 

Dayn Perry: I, too, was very surprised by how good the Guardians and Orioles were, but I’ll go in the other direction and say the Giants. I certainly expected them to come back to earth in 2022 after winning 107 games last year, but I didn’t quite expect “get worse by 30 games” levels of regression. I think the lesson is you need frontline talent to compete in the non-Central divisions, and the Giants don’t have much of that. Coached-up retreads can take you only so far.

Mike Axisa: Yeah, the Guardians and Orioles are 1-2 for me, in that order. No. 3 is the Tigers. I didn’t expect them to be good, mind you, but I thought they would take a few steps forward and be a .500-ish team in that division after incorporating a few more young players into the lineup (i.e. Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene). Instead, they’re going to lose 95-plus games for the fourth time in the last five 162-game seasons (they played at a 98-loss pace in 2020 too). We all reference the Astros and Cubs as rebuild success stories and understandably so. This is the other side of the coin. The Tigers are a half-decade into their rebuild and still aren’t particularly close to contending. To backslide like this in 2022 is a major disappointment.

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