3 MLB players who have surprised so far in 2022

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Most of us expected Mike Trout to play like Mike Trout if he was fully healthy. and Corbin Burnes and Kevin Gausman to dominate.

The beauty of MLB comes from the unexpected stars that come out of nowhere.

These three players have taken a huge step forward and qualify as the most surprising performers in 2022.

3. Tarik Skubal, PS, Detroit Tigers

Detroit Tigers young ace Tarik Skubal made his 2020 debut, with a disappointing 5.63 ERA in 32 frames.

He took a step forward in 2021, going from ineffective rookie to solid MLB starter by throwing 149.1 innings with a 4.34 ERA.

However, it seems to have taken another huge leap forward in 2022: it looks like an ace.

So far, the tough southpaw with the funky delivery and big fastball sports a 2.22 ERA in 44.2 innings, validated by an incredible 2.00 Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP).

There are two major areas in which Skubal has improved: steps and circuits.

In his first two seasons in MLB, he allowed more than two homers in nine innings.

This season? It is at 0.40.

Moreover, his walking rate has fallen from 7.4% in 2021 to just 4.5% this year.

It blossoms into an ace before our eyes.

2. Taylor Ward, DE, Los Angeles Angels

28-year-old outfielder Taylor Ward shocked the baseball world with his early-season batting performance.

He’s become a star this season in unexpected ways: from .250/.332/.438 in 237 plate appearances last year, he’s .370/.481/.713 in 131 plate appearances in 2022.

It was a huge leap that made him the most productive hitter on a roster that also includes Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon and Shohei Ohtani.

Wow.

Ward has homered nine, scored 27 runs and driven 23 through Wednesday, and it’s a big reason the Angels are neck and neck with the Houston Astros for the AL lead. West.

The best thing is that Ward’s performance in the minor leagues validates his current success, so we’re probably talking about his ability to stay at his current level.

He was one hell of a find for the Angels.

1. Nestor Cortes Jr., PS, New York Yankees

If you look at Nestor Cortes Jr.’s build, size and fastball speed, you wouldn’t imagine he was the best pitcher in the New York Yankees rotation.

Still, here we are, and Cortes leads the Bombers starters in ERA (1.80), Wins Above Replacement (1.3) and Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP, with 2.58).

Yes, he had a 2.90 ERA in 93 innings last season, but not many people thought he was legit.

This year, he shows that you don’t need a 100 mph fastball to dominate at the major league level.

Cortes has upgraded his cutter and it has now become his most trusted weapon.

He relies on deception, shifting gears, funky deliveries, and different arm lunges and release points to confound and dominate his rivals.

His four-seam fastball averages 91 mph, but it’s one of the most valuable heating elements in baseball.

He knows how to throw, has a very good command and disrupts the timing of the hitters.

There’s no reason the Yankees’ unsung hero can’t continue to dominate.

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