MLB season’s first 40 games: 10 things we learned and 5 execs’ takeaways

What a season. … Albert Pujols has finished as many games on the mound as Blake Treinen. … Anthony Rendon has hit more home runs left-handed than Austin Meadows. … A team learned it was somehow possible to allow no hits but not throw a no-hitter. … And maybe weirdest of all, the whole sport hit like a guy who was converted into a pitcher!

  • Baseball in 2022: .237/.309/.382
  • Anthony Gose’s career: .240/.309/.348

We saw all of that happen in the first quarter of this MLB season. And if you didn’t have columns like this to come to the rescue, you might not know what to make of any of it. But hey, you’re welcome! So here’s what we’ve learned in the first 40 games, now that all 30 teams have made it that far.

 

1. Lockout hangover is a real thing

Remember that lockout? You know you do. It ended a mere 76 days ago. It just feels like 76 years ago. But we spoke with executives from five teams for this piece, and they’re all still feeling the reverberations of the shortened spring and the bizarre offseason. How? We’ll tell you how.

SOME PITCHERS STILL AREN’T ALL THE WAY BACK — We knew a three-week spring training wasn’t long enough for many pitchers. What we didn’t know was that real games, in April and May, weren’t the ideal platform for them to finish their buildup back to where they’d normally be.

“The lazy narrative,” said a National League exec, “was that three weeks into the season, it would be the equivalent of every other year for most of these guys. I’m not sure it’s that simple. We’ve seen more challenges to it than we were expecting. We’ve seen it in injuries, but also in guys having a tougher time rebounding from outing to outing.”

 

IS THIS RADAR GUN BROKEN? Here’s more evidence of those same issues, from an American League exec who spent April looking at weird velocity readings, from standouts like Shane Bieber, Robbie Ray and Zack Wheeler, and wondering: What’s up with that?

“You watch this stuff,” this exec said, “and there’s this fear or panic, like what’s going on? I think it’s clear now we’ve seen unusual velocity patterns, because different guys handled the lockout time differently and the spring training time differently. So it’s been really hard to know what to make of players early.”

 

INJURIES — All teams worry about health. That’s true in every spring, every season. But especially this year. And not only because the spring was so short, but also because teams spent three months wondering whether their players were working out or working on their pitching wedge. The funny thing is, the injury info we’ve seen so far is mostly just confusing.

According to Derek Rhoads, who monitors injury data for Baseball Prospectus, the total number of players landing on the injured list is down from last year, when baseball was coming off the shortened 2020 season — but the average time they’ve spent on the IL is up, indicating many injuries are deeper and/or more significant.

Author: Lucy Green