MLB is always full of surprises, otherwise the San Francisco Giants wouldn’t have led the league in victories and the San Diego Padres and New York Mets would have made the playoffs easily.
It’s fun to think which unheralded teams may be ready to contend next year.
Sure, we have the whole MLB offseason ahead of us, and everything will depend on the signings and transactions these teams execute.
But these three MLB clubs could be surprise contenders next season.
3. Cleveland Guardians
It’s really not that difficult to see the Cleveland Guardians contending in 2022.
They finished 80-82 in 2021, 13 games behind the division-leading Chicago White Sox.
Granted, the White Sox also had their issues, but Cleveland just didn’t want to contend last season when it became obvious they weren’t going to catch Chicago.
The 2022 campaign could be different.
Yup. We didn’t have strong depth at the beginning which is why we are where we are. But next year…I really see the Guardians being 2022 playoff contenders.
— Ryan Katz (@moshpitmagic) August 28, 2021
They have the great Jose Ramirez (.266/.355/.538, 36 homers, 27 steals in 2021) and a healthy Bieber, and that’s a phenomenal start.
It should be an interesting year in Cleveland.
2. Kansas City Royals
In the American League Central, the White Sox are still the favorites.
Cleveland, as stated, should contend, and everybody talks about the talented Detroit Tigers (and for good reason).
But don’t forget about the Kansas City Royals.
They have an interesting offensive core, with the speedy Nicky Lopez, Adalberto Mondesi, and Whit Merrifield, and the powerful Carlos Santana, who should be a lot better than what he showed in 2021 (.214/.319/.342, 19 home runs).
But shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., the Minor League Player of the Year, should be up early in 2022 and is the kind of talent that can turn around a franchise.
If he hits as advertised, Kansas City will be in the thick of things.
Royals might be contenders by 2022 https://t.co/f2yghXSANd
— Br🅰️ndon (@Brandonliebs) February 11, 2021
1. Los Angeles Angels
Depending on your view of the Los Angeles Angels’ franchise, their presence on the list may or may not be surprising for you.
Yes, they are talented offensively, but they have been underachieving for so long that thinking about them contending is, in fact, surprising.
But the Angels have said that improving pitching, especially the rotation, is an offseason priority.
Starters such as Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke, Kevin Gausman, Robbie Ray, Carlos Rodon, Noah Syndergaard, and many more are available via free agency, so if they fail to improve their existing group, it’s on them.
They may be two or three reliable, stellar starting pitchers from the playoffs.