With around 40 games played in the MLB season, divisional races are beginning to shape up.
This brings a flurry of surprises, both for teams that sit on top of the division and those at the bottom.
Some divisions have shocking teams leading the charge, even though it is still early in the season.
Here is a look at the three most surprising contenders so far in 2022.
3. Houston Astros
It may be time that we learned our lesson to not doubt the Houston Astros.
Every season, even when it seems like their roster has taken a slight step back, or that other teams in the AL West have improved, the Astros find themselves at the top.
This is no different in 2022.
The loss of star shortstop Carlos Correa originally looked like a major loss for the Astros.
However, the rise of rookie Jeremy Peña has soothed the team’s worries at shortstop.
How special is this? Jeremy Peña's parents were on the mic for his first career HR. pic.twitter.com/wdvnoRePHp
— MLB (@MLB) April 9, 2022
Because of this, they are one of the early surprises for divisional leaders.
2. New York Yankees
Yes, the New York Yankees never truly fly under anyone’s radars.
However, after a quiet offseason highlighted by signing or trading for seemingly aging stars, many counted the Yankees out in the AL East.
They have proved these doubts wrong so far this season.
The Yankees hold the best record in all of MLB, sitting at 29-12.
After turning down a large contract extension, Judge’s gamble on himself has paid off.
So far the slugger is hitting .315 with a league-leading 15 home runs in just 146 at-bats, despite starting off the season slow.
— B/R Walk-Off (@BRWalkoff) May 18, 2022
This, paired with fellow giant Giancarlo Stanton, has formed a formidable duo in the middle of the Yankees’ lineup.
The success of their offense isn’t the most shocking part though, as their pitching has carried the load early in the season.
Nestor Cortes Jr. has continued the success of 2021, posting a 1.80 ERA so far.
Put this all together and the Yankees are off to a surprisingly good start.
1. Minnesota Twins
If you asked most people before the season, they would’ve expected the Chicago White Sox to run the AL Central.
The Minnesota Twins would likely be mentioned, but they have far exceeded expectations this year.
The @Twins are legit!
They came back from a 6-run deficit to finish off the sweep. pic.twitter.com/PxOClFjc5s
— MLB (@MLB) May 22, 2022
At 25-16, they hold a strong 4.5-game lead in the division.
Meanwhile, their pitching has been guided by a breakout performance from Joe Ryan, who has a 2.28 ERA in eight starts this season.
While they don’t necessarily have standout statistical seasons, the team is firing on all cylinders so far this year.
The Twins certainly made moves this offseason to improve, but their strong start is surprising early on in 2022.
It will now be interesting to see if they can hold off the rest of the AL Central and return to the playoffs.