With the first month of Major League Baseball in the books, the sport’s landscape is beginning to take shape.
From the two New York teams dominating early on, to former and current top prospects breaking out on teams across the league, there have been a few standout storylines early on.
Here is a look at the three biggest surprises so far.
3. The Yankees’ Moves Paid Off
After a shaky start that left New York Yankees fans asking for more, the team has turned it around in the last two weeks.
This was punctuated by their 10th straight win, this time coming against the division rival Toronto Blue Jays.
The Yankees seemed to be losers this offseason after missing out on big free agents like Carlos Correa, Corey Seager and Freddie Freeman.
Instead, they made lower profile moves to improve defense and balance their lineup.
These have paid off early in the season.
Shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa is hitting above .300 and has been more valuable than both Correa and Trevor Story.
Anthony Rizzo, who returned to the team as a cheaper alternative to the other first basemen on the market, is leading the league with nine home runs.
Anthony Rizzo is the home run leader with #9! pic.twitter.com/Z6HYK5KZ8a
— Cubs Zone ™️ (@CubsZone) April 30, 2022
These two have been joined by Aaron Judge who appears to be on an MVP projection to bolster a lineup that has been putting runs on the board.
However, their pitching has truly stood out.
Gerrit Cole seems to have figured it out after two rough outings to start the year, while the return of Luis Severino and continued success of Nestor Cortes help round out the rotation.
Meanwhile, the bullpen has been the league’s best.
Michael King has led that, seeming to be the team’s new breakout star.
Mike King this season:
2 G, 9.0 IP, 3 H, 4 BB, 7 SO, 0.00 ERApic.twitter.com/Bw7totdOib
— The Short Porch (@short_porch) April 17, 2021
Put this all together and the Yankees have the best record in baseball.
2. Taylor Ward’s Redemption Arc
Taylor Ward was the Tampa Bay Rays’ first-round draft pick in 2012.
However, he never lived up to the potential that he showed early in his career after making his debut with the Los Angeles Angels.
Now, in his fifth MLB season, he seems to have figured it out.
In 15 games he is leading the league with a .390 batting average and .493 on-base percentage.
Taylor Ward – Los Angeles Angels (5) pic.twitter.com/zaPvn94rIf
— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) April 29, 2022
Along with that, Ward has slugged five home runs and become the Angels’ leadoff hitter.
He has helped boost a lineup that sees a healthy Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, and Anthony Rendon.
This has pushed the Angels to an early lead of the AL West, something that may surprise some fans early in the season.
1. What Happened To The Baseballs?
Beyond the stories of individual players or teams getting off to shocking starts, there is one looming question.
Why are the baseballs dead?
Early in the season, there have been many cases of balls not flying quite as far as they used to.
Implementing a dead ball will gain more fans in baseball! https://t.co/YVQk8FOqMn pic.twitter.com/oHqPXcy2CN
— Kev (@OnePursuitTakes) April 28, 2022
This has led many to speculate that the league deadened the baseballs, reducing the number of hits and home runs.
Will this continue as the weather begins heating up across the country?
If numbers continue to be down across the league, fans will become restless with the sudden change in the balls.
Expect, then, more information to come out surrounding what exactly has happened to them.
Until then, this remains arguably the biggest surprise in MLB at this point in the season.