Miami turned a competitive afternoon into a comfortable win Wednesday, riding big swings by Jazz Chisholm Jr. and Avisail Garcia to an eight-run ninth inning and an 11-3 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The second base position is not the deepest in baseball right now, though young stars like Ozzie Albies, Jazz Chisholm Jr., Jake Cronenworth, Jorge Polanco and Jonathan India are capable of making a major impact...
Welcome to the first edition of theScore's 2022 Most Valuable Player rankings, where we pick the top players from each league. Let's take a look at who's making a strong impression in the early part of the season. American League5. Wander Franco, Rays Mike Carlson / Getty Images Sport / Getty GP HR RBI R AVG/OBP/SLG WAR 21 4 14 15 .322/.341/.575 1.5 The 21-year-old wunderkind, who Rich Hill predicted would be a Hall of Famer one day, continues to amaze during his first full big-league season. There might not be a better pure contact hitter in the league, and it appears Franco is adding more power to his offensive repertoire. The sweet-hitting shortstop is also one of MLB's toughest outs, ranking 12th in the majors with a 11.0% strikeout rate.4. Anthony Rizzo, Yankees Dustin Satloff / Getty Images Sport / Getty GP HR RBI R AVG/OBP/SLG WAR 23 9 21 15 .256/.378/.634 1.0 Rizzo's swing looks to be a perfect match for the short right-field porch at Yankee Stadium. Seven of the 32-year-old's nine home runs have come at home. Rizzo could flirt with 40 homers for the first time in his 12-year career. Even while batting with the likes of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton in the Yankees' lineup, Rizzo is looking like one of New York's most consequential players.3. Byron Buxton, Twins Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty GP HR RBI R AVG/OBP/SLG WAR 15 7 12 14 .281/.339/.719 1.2 It's hard to argue that there's currently a more electrifying player than Buxton. The big issue for the 28-year-old, who's eclipsed 100 games played in a season just once in his career, has been staying on the field. If the outfielder can find a way to stay healthy this year, he should put up monster numbers as part of a talented Minnesota lineup and help the Twins return to their AL Central-winning form.2. Jose Ramirez, Guardians Diamond Images / Diamond Images / Getty GP HR RBI R AVG/OBP/SLG WAR 22 7 28 13 .341/.421/.707 1.8 Fresh off signing a long-term extension, Ramirez, as per usual, finds himself among the AL's top hitters. He leads the majors in RBIs and is second in OPS. The Guardians are still a long shot to make the postseason, but if Ramirez continues to lead an underrated lineup, Cleveland could make a surprise run up the standings.1. Mike Trout, Angels Tim Heitman / Getty Images Sport / Getty GP HR RBI R AVG/OBP/SLG WAR 20 6 11 17 .324/.459/.721 1.6 After playing just 36 games in 2021, Trout has put any health concerns to bed. The three-time AL MVP is off to a torrid start, reaching base in 17 of 20 games. Although he shares a dugout with reigning MVP Shohei Ohtani, Trout has been the story for the Angels, ranking second in the American League in FanGraphs' WAR.National League 5. C.J. Cron, Rockies Mitchell Leff / Getty Images Sport / Getty GP HR RBI R AVG/OBP/SLG WAR 22 8 21 13 .282/.326/.647 1.1 It appears the friendly confines of Coors Field suit the Rockies' slugging first baseman, as Cron looks well on his way to a career season. After registering a career-best 2.3 fWAR in 2021, the 32-year-old is off to a fast start in the season's first month, amassing 1.1 WAR. Cron's prodigious power could enable him to challenge for the NL home run crown in 2022.4. Jazz Chisholm Jr., Marlins Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty GP HR RBI R AVG/OBP/SLG WAR 18 4 17 10 .306/.357/.661 1.3 Chisholm is off to a fast start, helping lead the Marlins to a winning record in the early going. The 24-year-old is still striking out at a high clip (27.1%), but his explosive power and blazing speed have let him make the most of his batted balls. If he can continue producing offensively, Miami could surprise people in the NL East standings.3. Francisco Lindor, Mets Mary DeCicco / Major League Baseball / Getty GP HR RBI R AVG/OBP/SLG WAR 24 4 14 14 .269/.355/.452 1.1 Lindor's return to form is the biggest reason to be excited about the 16-8 Mets. Following a forgettable debut season in New York where he struggled through inconsistencies and injuries, Lindor is more closely resembling the player with a career OPS above .800. The magnetic four-time All-Star is also boasting his trademark combination of power and speed in the early part of the campaign.2. Manny Machado, Padres Rob Leiter / Major League Baseball / Getty GP HR RBI R AVG/OBP/SLG WAR 23 4 16 20 .375/.440/.591 2.2 Although expectations for the Padres were somewhat tempered following last season's implosion and Fernando Tatis Jr.'s preseason injury, Machado's play has ratcheted up the excitement surrounding the Friars. He leads the majors in WAR and is second in the NL with a 1.031 OPS . The competition is as stiff as ever in the NL West, but if Machado can continue his early-season pace, the Padres should be able to stay afloat in the playoff picture until Tatis returns.1. Nolan Arenado, Cardinals Diamond Images / Diamond Images / Getty GP HR RBI R AVG/OBP/SLG WAR 21 6 18 12 .359/.432/.679 1.9 Arenado has been everything and more for the Cardinals. After a strong 2021 campaign in his first season away from Coors Field, the 31-year-old leads the NL in OPS and is second in the majors in WAR. The nine-time Gold Glove winner is also still one of the game's premier defensive players. If he can continue to produce with the bat, the sky is the limit for both Arenado and the Cardinals in 2022.Copyright © 2022 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.
We're nearly a month into the MLB season, which is just long enough to start believing in some early-season trends but too early to put complete faith in them. Here are our best bets heading into the first week of May:Diamondbacks-Marlins under 6.5 (even), 6:40 p.m.This total is tied for the lowest this season, but that's what happens when you pair two of the worst lineups in baseball with two of the most promising young arms.Marlins starter Pablo Lopez has made legitimate noise as a Cy Young candidate this year after hurling an MLB-best 0.39 ERA through his first four starts - posting a ridiculous 23-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 23 1/3 innings. He's blanked the Phillies, Cardinals, and Nationals in successive starts and should have little issue thwarting the Diamondbacks, who own the second-lowest wOBA (.275) in the majors.Zac Gallen has been strong on the mound, too, spinning a 0.60 ERA across 15 innings with an impressive 0.667 WHIP. The Marlins have surprised at the plate this year but likely won't get much from star bat Jazz Chisholm Jr. (illness), who saw one at-bat Sunday as he deals with a stomach issue.Twins -1.5 (+115) @ Orioles, 7:05 p.m.Speaking of early-season trends, at what point can we start to believe in Chris Paddack again? The former standout rookie had a campaign to forget in 2021, but he's been sharp this year with a 3.68 ERA and 13 strikeouts to just one walk in his first season with the Twins.Advanced metrics suggest he's been even better: His 1.72 FIP ranks 11th among starters with at least 10 innings pitched, while his high BABIP (.356) and low LOB% (66.7%) suggest there's more success on the way. That's due in part to his improved offspeed - he threw his curveball and changeup on 43 of 80 pitches in his last start and induced a combined four strikeouts with a 30-plus percent whiff rate on each offering.If he can continue to keep the ball in the park - which shouldn't be hard in the newly cavernous Camden Yards - he'll have his way with the Orioles' lineup, which ranks in the bottom five in slugging (.286) and OPS (.598) in their home ballpark. And with the way the Twins are hitting, this one shouldn't be close.Mets (-115) vs. Braves, 7:10 p.m.Are the Mets actually for real? It sure looks that way with New York (16-7) atop the NL standings following Sunday's dominant 10-6 win over the dangerous Phillies. Now this group gets a chance to beat up on the division rival Braves (10-13), who rank in the bottom 10 in run differential (-0.6/game) with a 4-6 record against teams with a .500 record or better.Atlanta's superstar slugger, Ronald Acuna Jr., is back in the lineup, but the 24-year-old has struggled in his return from injury, batting .154 with six strikeouts and zero extra-base hits through 14 plate appearances. He's unlikely to snap that slump against Mets starter Chris Bassitt (2.25 ERA), who has allowed one or fewer runs in three of four starts with at least six punchouts in all four starts.C Jackson Cowart is a sports betting writer at theScore. You can follow him on Twitter (@CJacksonCowart) or email him at [email protected] © 2022 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.
Welcome to the third edition of theScore's MLB Power Rankings for the 2022 season.1. Los Angeles Dodgers Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 14-7 6-4 +47 1 (-) Los Angeles has the best run differential thanks to arguably the most talented roster in baseball. The team is winning despite limited production from Mookie Betts, Trea Turner, and Max Muncy, which is a scary thought. Clayton Kershaw, the club's new all-time strikeout king, and Walker Buehler have dominated early. The duo allowed a combined 13 earned runs over 52 2/3 innings (2.22 ERA) with 56 strikeouts.2. New York Mets Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 16-7 7-3 +37 2 (-) Jacob deGrom who? The Mets' starters lead almost all major pitching categories, including wins (11), ERA (2.44), and fWAR (2.9) despite missing the two-time Cy Young winner. Max Scherzer leads the pack with a 2.61 ERA and 42 strikeouts over 31 innings. Tylor Megill has also been sensational, surrendered just six earned runs over 28 innings.3. New York Yankees Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 16-6 9-1 +41 10 (+7) The Yankees are the hottest team in baseball, but we might have to take their success with a grain of salt. They haven't squared off against a playoff-caliber opponent lately, racking up wins against the likes of the Orioles, Tigers, Guardians, and Royals. Despite the soft schedule, the Yankees are receiving big contributions from Anthony Rizzo and Nestor Cortes, which could pay big dividends as the season rolls on. Aaron Judge is off to a torrid start with eight homers. Vaughn Ridley / Getty Images Sport / Getty4. Toronto Blue Jays Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 15-8 7-3 +1 4 (-) Teoscar Hernandez is, in many ways, the unsung hero of this team. Without him in the lineup, other hitters' shortcomings come to light. Over the past two weeks, the lineup posted a wRC+ that's below league average (96), buoyed by eight combined homers off the bats of George Springer, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and Santiago Espinal. Other than that, though, it's been tough sledding, with everyone else - including Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette - combining for another eight dingers. Still, Toronto continues to win games during what will be its toughest part of the schedule this season.5. San Francisco Giants Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 14-8 6-4 +34 5 (-) While suffering blowout losses to the lowly Nationals in two out of three games isn't ideal, San Francisco has put up wins without any legit stars. Joc Pederson was off to a monster start, going deep six times with a 1.127 OPS before he got injured. Carlos Rodon is also showing his 2021 wasn't a fluke. The All-Star left-hander has 38 strikeouts over 23 innings - a team record for a pitcher in their first four starts.6. Milwaukee Brewers Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 15-8 7-3 +19 12 (+6) The big question surrounding the Brewers heading into the season was whether the lineup would score enough to support one of the best pitching staffs in the league. Over the past two weeks, Milwaukee ranks inside the top four in runs scored and home runs. The rotation continues to be rock solid with Eric Lauer looking like a real presence behind the sterling trio of Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Freddy Peralta. The Brewers are one of two teams with a pitching staff boasting a K/9 above 10 over the last two weeks.7. Los Angeles Angels Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 15-8 7-3 +21 15 (+8) The biggest reason to be excited about the Angels is the return to health of Mike Trout, who's already been worth 1.8 WAR. Shohei Ohtani has yet to find his offensive form, but the Angels haven't suffered too much with Taylor Ward and Brandon Marsh both picking up the slack. The acquisitions of Michael Lorenzen and Noah Syndergaard to bolster the rotation have worked out splendidly.8. San Diego Padres Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 15-8 7-3 +20 14 (+6) After some early season adversity, the Padres are rolling. They possess the best offense by fWAR over the past two weeks - a direct result of Manny Machado playing like an MVP candidate while Eric Hosmer and Ha-Seong Kim perform almost at the same level. The trio combined for nine homers, 26 runs scored, and 29 RBIs over the final 12 games in April. For context, the entire White Sox roster has 10 homers, 29 runs, and 25 RBIs over the same span.9. Minnesota Twins Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 13-9 9-1 +23 16 (+7) It feels like 2021 was the outlier for the Twins. Opening Day starter Joe Ryan hasn't allowed a single run over his last 17 innings, racking up 18 strikeouts and two walks since a solo homer from Alex Verdugo on April 15. Chris Paddack, Dylan Bundy, and Bailey Ober - prior to landing on the injured list - all seem to have found something, while Byron Buxton and Max Kepler play like MVP-caliber players. Mike Carlson / Getty Images Sport / Getty10. Tampa Bay Rays Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 12-10 6-4 -3 6 (-4) The Rays falling down the table a little bit here is less an indictment on them and more an endorsement of the other clubs. Their offense has been exceptional, posting a 117 wRC+ over the past two weeks. Their pitchers have been predictably great, authoring an impressive 3.48 FIP. Drew Rasmussen and J.P. Feyereisen - who both came over in the Willy Adames trade - have stood out over that span. Over 16 innings, the pair of righties allowed two runs on six hits and four walks while striking out 20.11. Seattle Mariners Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 12-10 5-5 +20 13 (+2) Shockingly, the Mariners have the best offense over the past two weeks, according to wRC+. And that's despite star prospect Julio Rodriguez continually getting inexplicably called out on strikes from pitches outside the zone. There have been almost no weak spots up and down the lineup, but the club could certainly start seeing more contributions from Jarred Kelenic, who's hitting .141/.211/.297 with two homers and three steals.12. St. Louis Cardinals Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 12-9 5-5 +19 11 (-1) It's hard not to be excited about Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado's start. The nine-time Gold Glove winner is in the 94th percentile in Baseball Savant's defensive outs above average and is raking offensively. St. Louis is missing right-hander Jack Flaherty's presence in the rotation, but Miles Mikolas is doing a tremendous job in his stead, boasting a sparkling 1.52 ERA through his first five turns in the rotation.13. Houston Astros Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 11-11 5-5 -4 8 (-5) It's an understatement to say the opening month has been disappointing. The Astros have a negative run differential and are in a dead heat with the Athletics and Mariners in their own division - two teams they should easily be better than. The run scoring has, for the most part, been there, with Jeremy Pena, Alex Bregman, and Yordan Alvarez leading the way. The run prevention has been an issue, though. Jake Odorizzi continues to get kicked around with a 6.00 ERA and might begin losing starts to Cristian Javier. Luis Garcia is also having a sophomore slump (4.15 ERA and 5.13 FIP) while Jose Urquidy is getting shelled too.14. Atlanta Braves Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 10-13 4-6 -14 7 (-7) Now we can really get a good sense of who the Braves are. The defending champions received quite a shot in the arm with Ronald Acuna Jr.'s ahead-of-schedule return. The dynamic star is still easing his way back into the fold, but his presence alongside the likes of Ozzie Albies, Matt Olson, Marcell Ozuna, and Austin Riley should have the Braves tearing the cover off the ball. On the pitching side, the Kyle Wright breakout appears to be real and spectacular. The right-hander is off to a torrid start with a 1.13 ERA and 12.75 K/9 through his first four starts.15. Philadelphia Phillies Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 11-12 6-4 +8 17 (+2) Philadelphia has been treading water, with Bryce Harper and Zack Wheeler clearly failing to fire on all cylinders. The reigning NL MVP owns an .810 OPS over 23 contests due to an elbow injury, while the latter allowed 12 earned runs over 18 2/3 innings after logging an MLB-high 213 1/3 innings in 2021. Patrick Smith / Getty Images Sport / Getty16. Boston Red Sox Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 9-14 3-7 -9 9 (-7) It's been "Love on the Rocks" for the Red Sox through the first month, and it's going to take a hot streak before Boston can say "Hello Again" to the other top contenders in the AL East. Sure, the Red Sox played well enough to make the postseason last year, but that's "Yesterday's Songs." They recently added Franchy Cordero, who's likely saying "Play Me" in an effort to turn around the team's fortunes. Rich Hill stuck around for one more year in hopes of winning a ring but, if this keeps up, he'll leave midseason to spend "Forever In Blue Jeans," "If You Know What I Mean."17. Miami Marlins Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 12-9 8-2 +6 22 (+5) The Marlins won seven of their last eight and are one of seven teams ranked in the top 12 in both position player and pitcher fWAR. Jazz Chisholm Jr. has been incredible and is one of two players with at least four homers and four steals. Pablo Lopez leads the Senior Circuit with a sterling 0.39 ERA and has yet to allow a homer over 23 1/3 innings. Miami needs more long-term consistency to move up our rankings, but it's an encouraging start.18. Chicago White Sox Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 8-13 2-8 -24 3 (-15) To say it's been a rocky start on the South Side of Chicago would be an understatement. A number of key players have missed time to injury, while the ones in the lineup are struggling to produce. The defending AL Central champion's bullpen needs to find its form, as it ranks in the bottom third in the league in ERA over the last two weeks. Despite the sluggish start, it's far too early to break into a panic.19. Colorado Rockies Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 13-9 5-5 -6 20 (+1) Colorado has been a lot better than expected in an ultra-competitive division. C.J. Cron quietly leads the Senior Circuit with eight homers, while Randal Grichuk possesses a .912 OPS after coming over in an offseason deal with the Blue Jays. However, Kris Bryant's start is somewhat concerning. He's on the IL with a back injury and doesn't have a home run in 15 games. Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty20. Chicago Cubs Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 9-13 3-7 0 18 (-2) Lost amid the hype surrounding Seiya Suzuki's start to the season is outfielder Ian Happ's strong performance. The switch hitter is producing from both sides of the plate while cutting his strikeout rate (19.5%) and increasing his walk percentage (15.6%). After a slow start, right-hander Marcus Stroman twirled a gem Sunday against the Brewers. The Cubs need him to be consistent and give them a chance to win every time he takes the ball.21. Detroit Tigers Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 7-14 3-7 -20 21 (-) After a great offseason, many expected a lot more from the Tigers. The club's offense has hit an MLB-low 10 homers and is close to the bottom in almost all significant hitting categories. At least fans got to enjoy Miguel Cabrera's 3,000th career hit.22. Cleveland Guardians Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 10-12 3-7 +7 19 (-3) Cleveland swept Oakland over the weekend to recover from a seven-game losing streak. The club scored just 14 runs in the losses after a torrid start offensively. While Jose Ramirez has been a monster - accruing seven homers with 28 RBIs and a 1.128 OPS - Franmil Reyes is struggling mightily. The slugger has struck out a whopping 38 times over 79 at-bats (48%).23. Oakland Athletics Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 10-12 3-7 -3 23 (-) The A's hover around .500 thanks to solid starting pitching. The trio of Paul Blackburn, Cole Irvin, and Daulton Jefferies allowed a combined 19 earned runs over 67 innings to start the campaign. Things could go south quick, though, as 16 of Oakland's next 20 games are against clubs with winning records.24. Texas Rangers Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 8-14 5-5 -6 24 (-) It isn't time to fully panic, but it's easy to be concerned about Marcus Semien's frigid start. After hitting 45 homers with the Blue Jays in 2021, he's yet to hit a long ball to start his career in Texas. The Rangers invested in Semien and Corey Seager to lead their team back to contention, but it appears there's much more work needed to make the club competitive again. The starting pitching remains weak, ranking 26th with a 5.03 ERA. Jayne Kamin-Oncea / Getty Images Sport / Getty25. Baltimore Orioles Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 8-14 4-6 -22 27 (+2) Despite losing John Means, the Orioles' pitching staff has actually been quite decent, led by breakout starter Bruce Zimmermann. The lefty owns a sterling 0.93 ERA and allowed earned runs in only one of his four starts. It's not as though those have come against pushover teams, either - two were versus the Yankees, against whom he pitched 9 1/3 shutout frames with 11 strikeouts. He's not working especially deep, but he's throwing competitive innings.26. Arizona Diamondbacks Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 10-13 5-5 -19 28 (+2) The D-Backs have been a pesky opponent thanks in large part to the improved performance of their starting rotation. The addition of pitching coach Brent Strom appears to be paying dividends. Arizona's starters rank third in ERA, fourth in opponent batting average, and sixth in WHIP. Unfortunately, the offense sits 25th in runs, 29th in OPS, and 30th in hits.27. Kansas City Royals Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 7-13 2-8 -34 25 (-2) Bobby Witt Jr. appears to be snapping out of an early-season funk with a nine-game hitting streak before missing Sunday's game with a sore wrist. Andrew Benintendi is quietly producing as one of the best hitters in the American League. The 27-year-old, who registered a five-WAR season for the Red Sox in 2018, leads the team with an .883 OPS, 26 hits, and 10 RBIs.28. Washington Nationals Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 8-16 2-8 -33 26 (-2) Josh Bell is off to a solid start despite all the losing. The slugging first baseman is slashing .351/.457/.506 with two homers and 15 RBIs. Meanwhile, Josiah Gray, one of the key pieces in the Scherzer-Turner trade, amassed a 3.12 ERA with 31 strikeouts over 26 innings. The rest of the rotation, however, has been terrible - Washington's starters rank 29th in ERA.29. Pittsburgh Pirates Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 9-13 4-6 -41 29 (-) Over the past two weeks, no team has been worse both by pitching and offense, according to fWAR. The position players have been especially poor, accruing an almost unfathomably bad minus-1.0 WAR since April 17. Jake Marisnick is on an 0-for-17 skid. Even Kevin Newman - now sidelined with a groin injury - struggled to provide defensive value, costing his team nearly two runs at shortstop. Without Oneil Cruz on the roster, there isn't much to watch.30. Cincinnati Reds Record Last 10 RD Previous Rank (Change) 3-19 1-9 -65 30 (-) "Where are you going to go?": The now immortal words of Reds president Phil Castellini to fans complaining about slashing payroll. Well, probably not to see Cincinnati play. The club is off to its worst start in franchise history, and Joey Votto has just nine hits in 74 at-bats.Copyright © 2022 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.