The first quarter of the MLB season has seen its fair share of pleasant surprises, from breakout hitter performances to rebound seasons. These are 25 of the biggest surprises thus far.


Isaiah J. Downing / USA Today Sports Images

Bard wasn’t expected to be Colorado’s closer again after losing the job last season, but he’s regained the role and shined in the process. The veteran right-hander has locked down games with nine saves and 19 strikeouts in 13.1 innings through May 17.


David Bednar, RP, Pirates

Charles LeClaire / USA Today Sports Images

Pittsburgh might not be playing for much this season, but they sport arguably the best reliever in baseball. Bednar has shined with a 1.00 ERA in seven saves over his first 15 appearances, fanning 25 batters in 18 innings.


Paul Blackburn, SP, Athletics

Jayne Kamin-Oncea / USA Today Sports Images

Blackburn added velocity this season and has been one of the best starters in MLB as a result. He was 4-0 with a 1.67 ERA through seven starts, walking a total of five batters.


Nestor Cortes, SP, Yankees

Wendell Cruz / USA Today Sports Images

Of all the candidates to be the Yankees ace, Cortes has been their best performer. He has a league-best 1.35 ERA and 49/11 K/BB in 40 innings spanning seven starts.


C.J. Cron, 1B, Rockies

John Leyba / USA Today Sports Images

Following a strong second half in 2021, Cron has picked up where he left off. He leads the NL with 10 home runs, putting himself in the MVP conversation.


Brandon Drury, UT, Reds

David Kohl / USA Today Sports Images

Drury was just trying to make the MLB roster in Spring Training, but he’s turned into Cincinnati’s most productive offensive player. He’s showing the ability that made him a highly-touted prospect earlier in his career, hitting .243-7-22 with a .842 OPS through 31 games played.


Andres Gimenez, 2B, Guardians

Sam Greene / USA Today Sports Images

Gimenez clearly needed more seasoning when he arrived in the majors with Cleveland last year, but he’s shown his time is now with his performance this year. Plate patience has been an issue, but Gimenez is hitting .323-4-20 with 10 extra-base hits in 100 plate appearances.


Jonah Heim, C, Rangers

Kevin Jairaj / USA Today Sports Images

Texas acquired Mitch Garver before the season, but Heim looks like their best option behind the plate. He’s hit .277-4-12, showing vastly improved plate discipline with 10/8 BB/K over 75 plate appearances.


Eric Hosmer, 1B, Padres

Brett Davis / USA Today Sports Images

Hosmer was rumored to be on the trade block prior to Opening Day, but he’s been on a tear since the season opened. The Padres’ first baseman is hitting .346-4-24 through 34 games as a centerpiece of the lineup.


Brad Keller, SP, Royals

Jay Biggerstaff / USA Today Sports Images

Coming off a forgettable 2021 season, Keller is bouncing back as KC’s ace this season. He has only one win through seven starts but also had a 2.89 ERA, 1.01 WHIP with only nine walks in 43.2 innings.


Merrill Kelly, SP, Diamondbacks

Jayne Kamin-Oncea / USA Today Sports Images

Kelly is clearly benefitting from new pitching coach Brent Strom, showing dominant performance early in the season. He has a 3.27 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 44 innings through his first eight starts.


Eric Lauer, SP, Brewers

Dale Zanine / USA Today Sports Images

Lauer has effectively become Milwaukee’s first ace with his brilliant start to the season. The lefty has added velocity, resulting in a 2.60 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and 49 strikeouts in 34.2 innings.


Miles Mikolas, SP, Cardinals

Jeff Curry / USA Today Sports Images

Mikolas has struggled to stay healthy over the last two seasons, but he’s back on track early in 2022. He has a 1.68 ERA in eight starts, with only nine walks in 48.1 innings.


Jeremy Pena, SS, Astros

Troy Taormina / USA Today Sports Images

Pena is helping Astros fans forget about Carlos Correa. He’s the early favorite for AL Rookie of the Year, hitting .282-7-21 through 31 games played.


Martin Perez, SP, Rangers

Troy Taormina / USA Today Sports Images

Perez returned to the Rangers after three seasons away and is making the most of his return. He has a 2.01 ERA through seven starts, with continued control improvement and no home runs allowed.


Jordan Romano, RP, Blue Jays

Kevin Sousa / USA Today Sports Images

The Blue Jays were candidates to upgrade at closer during the offseason, but they stuck with Romano. Like last season, he’s been terrific in the role, leading the AL with 12 saves and 16 games finished through mid-May.


Joe Ryan, SP, Twins

Jeffrey Becker / USA Today Sports Images

Ryan surprised as Minnesota’s Opening Day starter, and he’s been off and running since then. The right-hander has pitched even better than he appeared late last season, with a 2.39 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and 36 strikeouts in 37.2 innings.


Jean Segura, 2B, Phillies

Kyle Ross / USA Today Sports Images

With all of Philadelphia’s superstar hitters, Segura has been arguably their most consistent contributor. He’s hitting .307-6-14 with 19 runs scored in 30 games.


Tarik Skubal, SP, Tigers

Troy Taormina / USA Today Sports Images

Skubal made strides late last season, and he’s looked like an ace this year. The left-hander has a 2.50 ERA and 1.08 WHIP through seven starts, with 45/8 K/BB in 39.2 innings.


Keegan Thompson, P, Cubs

Ray Acevedo / USA Today Sports Images

Chicago made several high-profile additions to their pitching staff, but Thompson has been their most valuable pitcher. Pitching in a variety of roles, Thompson has a 1.41 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and 27 strikeouts in 32 innings.


Rowdy Tellez, 1B, Brewers

Jeff Hanisch / USA Today Sports Images

Tellez’s bat has carried Milwaukee’s offense through much of the season. He’s been a machine driving in runners with an NL-leading 29 RBI, along with eight home runs.


Justin Verlander, SP, Astros

Nick Wosika / USA Today Sports Images

Returning from Tommy John surgery, Verlander hasn’t lost a step. The 39-year-old is in the AL Cy Young running at 5-1 with a 1.38 ERA and 0.68 WHIP in 45.2 innings.


Christian Walker, 1B, Diamondbacks

Jasen Vinlove / USA Today Sports Images

A recent hot streak from Walker has carried Arizona’s offense, as he led the NL with nine home runs through May 17. He’s successfully held off top prospect Seth Beer as the Diamondback’s clear first baseman.


24 of 25

Taylor Ward, OF, Angels

Taylor Ward, OF, Angels

Kirby Lee / USA Today Sports Images

The Angels’ offense has been on fire, and Ward has been their best hitter. That’s saying a lot in a lineup that also includes Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, and Anthony Rendon. Ward is slashing .376/.484/.733, on his way to a breakout year.


Kyle Wright, SP, Braves

Brett Davis / USA Today Sports Images

After a strong showing in the playoffs, Wright is showing elite ability as a starter. The former first-round pick has a 2.79 ERA and 1.10 WHIP through seven starts.

By admin