Ranking MLB's 10 Most Dangerous Offenses So Far in the 2022 Season
At this time of year, pitchers are typically still ahead of hitters in the MLB season. Offensive struggles are to be expected early on, but some teams stand out from the beginning.
Even this year, with a shortened spring training, there are offensive juggernauts worth recognizing.
That's what we'll do here, ranking MLB's most dangerous offenses so far.
The thinking behind these rankings considers both current performance and the expectations based on who's in the lineups.
Since there are only 10 spots here, we should recognize two other dangerous offenses that did not make the list: the San Francisco Giants and Houston Astros.
The Giants scored the third-most runs of any team through their first 609 at-bats, and their plus-45 run differential leads the league. It's an offense that's plenty dangerous.
The Astros are underperforming, but they still have some of the game's best hitters in Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Tucker and Michael Brantley, with Jose Altuve expected to return soon from a hamstring injury.
But there could only be 10 here, so let's dig in.
10. Colorado Rockies
The Rockies are one of the surprises of the season so far. Through 17 games, they ranked third in OPS (.747) and tied for sixth in home runs (19).
Their lineup helped Colorado to a 10-7 record, which includes series wins at home against the Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers.
Colorado was tied for the 10th-most runs scored going into Wednesday and had been especially good against left-handed hitting, leading the league with a .290 batting average.
What's even more impressive is how the Rockies offense is producing despite a slow start by marquee free-agent acquisition Kris Bryant, whose 25.5 percent hard-hit rate is the lowest on the team for everyday players and in the bottom 10 percent of the league.
Only the San Francisco Giants had as many home runs in the National League as the defending World Series champions through 18 games.
While Atlanta scuffles around .500, the lineup is still one to be feared. It ranked second in xBA (.274) and xSLG (.504) through 582 at-bats, and third in barrel rate (10.6 percent), according to Statcast.
Like Colorado, Atlanta is also doing this without its best player. Ronald Acuna Jr.'s projected return from an ACL tear is May 6.
Meanwhile, Atlanta still trots a top four of Ozzie Albies, Matt Olson, Austin Riley and Marcell Ozuna.
8. New York Mets
The Mets lead the National League in wRC+ (122) and get on base better than any team other than the Cubs.
They are also tied for the third-best batting average in baseball (.255), led by Jeff McNeil (.328). The Mets' identity is in their pitching after signing Max Scherzer and with Jacob deGrom returning at some point.
But the offense is producing with a top-five OPS. The Mets had the most hits (174) and second-most RBI (88) through 20 games, but they also had the most at-bats by far up to that point (673).
It will be interesting to see what decision they make on Robinson Cano, whether to release him after starting the season slashing .184/.225/.263 through his first 38 at-bats.
7. Seattle Mariners
The Mariners through 576 at-bats ranked tied for fourth in OPS (.741) across baseball and second in the American League.
This is due mostly to very few teams getting on base better than Seattle. The Mariners' walk percentage (11.7 percent) has been the best in baseball with an AL-leading .338 OBP. They've also tied for the AL lead in RBI (82).
Seattle's power numbers aren't mind-blowing, but they're decent enough to be threatening (.403 SLG), and Mariners hitters are making pitchers work at the very least. They also have a league-leading 127 wRC+.
Ty France and J.P. Crawford are worth noting for how they've started the season, both in the top eight in OPS.
6. Chicago Cubs
The Cubs are probably not the Chicago team most expected to be in this conversation at the start of the year, but here we are.
They ranked atop all teams in OPS (.758) and two of the three slash lines (.265 BA, .346 OBP) through 561 at-bats.
Expectations remain low for the Cubs, but it's hard to dismiss what they've done so far. Only three teams had more hits in this span, and each of them had at least 15 more at-bats than Chicago.
Japanese newcomer Seiya Suzuki is off to an impressive start in the major leagues, ranking fifth in OPS across baseball behind only Mike Trout, Nolan Arenado, former Cubs star Anthony Rizzo and Jose Ramirez.
5. Los Angeles Angels
The danger in the Angels' lineup seems self-explanatory. MVPs Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani play there. Anthony Rendon is back and healthy, too.
Others like Taylor Ward (.353 BA), Brandon Marsh (.308 BA) and Jack Mayfield (.321 BA) are off to hot starts.
The Angels had the second-most home runs in baseball (24) after 589 at-bats and are tied atop the AL with 82 RBI. They ranked third in xwOBAcon (.431), which simply says when the Angels make contact, they generally get on base.
Of course, the Angels lineup is usually dangerous with Trout. It's even more so with Ohtani's emergence (even if he's struggling), a healthy Rendon and a productive supporting cast.
4. New York Yankees
No team hits the ball harder or barrels it better than the Yankees. They lead baseball in hard-hit percentage (48.9), barrel percentage (11.6) and exit velocity (92.1) through 562 at-bats.
The Yankees also lead baseball in xBA (.276), xSLG (.517), xwOBA (.368) and xwOBAcon (.449). They hit it hard and hit it well. The Yankees' 22 home runs in that time rank third in baseball, and they're in the top 10 in OPS.
Anthony Rizzo's three-homer game against the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday put him in the home run lead with eight on the season.
Aside from Rizzo's production (1.106 OPS through 64 at-bats), Aaron Judge (.910 OPS through 66 at-bats) and DJ LeMahieu (.878 OPS through 59 at-bats) are performing at a high level from the plate.
3. Philadelphia Phillies
With Bryce Harper, Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at the heart of their order, the Phillies were destined to be on this list. Those three, as expected, are the team's home run leaders, with Castellanos (.921) and Harper (.850) leading them in OPS.
As a group, the Phillies ranked fourth in OPS (.747) through 628 at-bats after Wednesday's game. Philly's run production is also noteworthy, ranking sixth in runs scored, fifth in RBI and top 10 in wRC+.
What makes them so dangerous is their power. Philadelphia ranked third in slugging (.420), hard-hit percentage (45.0) and xBA (.274), eighth in xSLG (.460), and sixth in xwOBA (.347) and xwOBAcon (.415).
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers find themselves here based on name and reputation more than any other team on this list.
Make no mistake, though. The production is there. The Dodgers scored 90 runs through 18 games, good for fifth in baseball. Two of the teams ahead of them, the Mets and San Francisco Giants, played additional games but scored no more than four runs more than the Dodgers, who rank fifth in wRC+ (120).
Their plus-44 run differential is second in baseball, showing they can be as dominant as anticipated.
It had been wondered aloud whether this Dodgers lineup could be the best ever, and nothing about their early performance has dispelled the notion.
1. Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays are on pace to lead the major leagues in home runs for the second season in a row. They held the home run lead through 638 at-bats with 26—albeit only two teams had more at-bats in that stretch.
Talk about danger, nothing is scarier than a team with this kind of propensity to send the ball out of the yard.
Only the Yankees have a higher hard-hit percentage, and only the Mets have more hits.
It helps having Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who shared the home run title last year with Salvador Perez and is showing no signs of slowing down (.309/.380/.559 with five home runs in 68 at-bats).