The Tenth Inning
 The Tenth Inning Blog
Periodically, I will post new entries about current baseball topics.  The posts will typically be a mixture of commentary, history, facts, and stats.  Hopefully, they will provoke some  of your thoughts or emotions. Clicking on the word "Comments" associated with each post below will open a new dialog box to enter or retrieve any feedback.
Early musings about the 2022 MLB season

A lot has already happened in the first six weeks of the 2022 seasons. There have been broken records, impressive debuts, disappointments and surprises, old-timers and newcomers. Here are some of my observations about the season so far.

In my pre-season projections back during the first week of April, I predicted Buck Showalter would need a full season to right the ship with the New York Mets. He’s proven my wrong; his Mets currently lead the NL East by 7 ½ games over the Braves. His pitching staff has really come on strong, ranked in the top five in most pitching categories. We knew newcomer Max Scherzer would bring stability to their starting rotation, especially with Jacob deGrom on the Injured List. But other Mets pitchers have stepped up, too. It now looks like Mad Max will join deGrom on the Injured List for 6-8 weeks due to an oblique strain suffered last week.

Boston second baseman Trevor Story was supposed to add another big bat to the lineup. He was a highly-prized free agent during the off-season, with the Red Sox shelling out some big dollars to sign him. But he didn’t hit his first home run until May 11, and a lot of BoSox fans began to wonder just what did they get? Then he hits three homers at Fenway against Seattle on May 19 and another on May 20. Red Sox Nation is feeling a little better now.

The St. Louis Cardinals have four potential Hall of Famers on their roster this year. They re-acquired Albert Pujols, who is a sure-fire first ballot electee. In his 19th Cardinals season, catcher Yadier Molina merits Hall of Fame induction for both his offense and defense. Nolan Arenado is the premier third baseman in baseball with the glove, having won nine consecutive Gold Glove awards. Not too shabby with the bat either, Arenado’s a four-time Silver Slugger Award winner. If first baseman Paul Goldschmidt can add a few more banner years, he’ll be a solid candidate for the Hall. And I’m not counting pitcher Adam Wainwright, who’s been in the top 3 for Cy Young Award in four seasons. Wainwright and Molina have been batterymates 307 times in their careers (third place on the all-time list).

Twins pitcher Jhoan Duran threw the fastest recorded pitch of 2022 at 103.3 miles per hour. Reds pitcher Hunter Greene broke the record for most 100+ mph pitches in a game with 39. Remember when we used to gawk at pitchers who could throw consistently in the mid-90s?

39-year-old Justin Verlander has found the Fountain of Youth. It looks like the Tommy John surgery that kept him out of the 2020 and 2021 seasons is working. He’s 5-1 with a 1.38 ERA and WHIP of 0.679. Can he pitch until he’s 46 years old, like the original Tommy John did in the 1980s?

Will Mike Trout finally make it back to the post-season this year? It’s been eight years since he and the Los Angeles Angels made a playoff appearance. They are trailing the division-leading Astros by only 1 ½ games. Trout and two-way star Shohei Ohtani are leading the way for the Angels. Outfielder Taylor Ward is having a breakout season, leading the AL in all categories of the slash line with .370/.481/.713.

The Yankees look impressive with the best record in the AL, 28-10, as of Friday. However, if you look more closely at their schedule, 12 of their wins have come from the lowly Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers, and Kansas City Royals. The only Yankees opponent currently with a winning record is Toronto. They haven’t played second-place Tampa Bay yet. The verdict is still out on whether the Yanks can maintain their lead. The good news is that they have a healthy roster for a change. Look for Joey Gallo (.176/.294/.333) to get dumped by the Yankees.

In 2021 it was Chicago White Sox rookie Yermin Mercedes who took MLB by storm at the start of the season. After the first month, he had a slash line of .415/.455/.659 with 5 homers and 16 RBIs. In 2022, Mercedes started the season in the minors. Cleveland rookie Steven Kwan was the talk of the town during the first month of this season for having not swung and missed until his 40th at-bat of the season. At the end of April, he was batting .354/.459/.500, and now he’s at /.265/.374/.373. Is he just a flash in the pan, too?

The award for “Worst MLB Team of the Year” so far goes to the Cincinnati Reds. They are officially in “tanking” mode, so it’s no surprise. Besides having the worst record in both leagues, they rank near the bottom of the NL in practically every hitting and pitching category. Future Hall of Famer Joey Votto is in the worst funk of his career, batting only .122 with no homers and three RBIs in 22 games before a 15-game absence due to COVID-19 diagnosis. He returned to the lineup this week.

Dusty Baker won his 2,000th game as a manager. In his 25th year as skipper that has included stints with the Giants, Cubs, Reds, Nationals, and now Astros, he is making his way to the Hall of Fame. The 73-year-old is proving that “old school” managers can adjust to “new school” thinking and win.

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