The 2022 Major League Baseball season is nearly 20 percent completed (five out of 26 weeks), which is the perfect time for some early report card grades.
Marks for each team are based on how their play has compared to preseason expectations. (Win totals via DraftKings.) In other words, if both the Dodgers and Orioles were .500, rather than both getting a C, the former would get an F and the latter would get an A.
Furthermore, grades are based on a 50-50 combination of actual record and pythagorean record—aka the expected record based on year-to-date run differential—compared against their preseason win total.
Picking the Cleveland Guardians as a random example, their expected win total was 75.5. Their actual winning percentage is .500, while their pythagorean winning percentage is .533, for an average of .517, or a pace of 83.7 wins. That's 8.2 victories better than expected and good for a B on the curve ranging from negative-32 to positive-25.
Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves and Baltimore Orioles
Arizona Diamondbacks: A
They're still nowhere close to leading the loaded NL West, but who could have guessed that the Diamondbacks and their preseason win total of 66.5 would be sporting a winning record more than 30 games into 2022?
They've done so in spite of a lineup that is collectively hitting below the Mendoza Line. Daulton Varsho (.245, 6 HR, 3 SB) has been solid, but this team is otherwise relying entirely upon its pitching staff. And with the way Merrill Kelly, Zac Gallen and Madison Bumgarner have been slinging the pill, it's working out better than anyone expected.
Atlanta Braves: D-
I feel like a broken record with this disclaimer over the past few weeks, but no one is throwing in the towel on the Braves. They started just as slowly last year, and this time they had to soldier through the first 19 games without star outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. (torn ACL recovery).
There's a ton of season left for them to right the ship.
But there's also no question that the first five weeks of this World Series defense have not gone according to design, saddled with a sub-.500 record in spite of 16 games played against the lowly Reds (four), Nationals, Marlins, Cubs and Rangers (three each). Given their schedule and expectations, they should be at least six games above .500.
Baltimore Orioles: B
The Orioles aren't doing well compared to the league average. Even with a recent stretch of seven wins in 10 games, they're still five games below .500. However, the O's (62.0) and the A's (69.5) were the only AL teams with preseason win totals below 73.5. And compared to that "clearly the biggest dumpster fire in the league" expectation, they're doing quite well.
What's most impressive about their better-than-expected start is that star hitter Cedric Mullins is just starting to heat up, while star pitcher John Means will miss the entire season because of Tommy John surgery. Rather, youngsters Austin Hays (OF), Ryan Mountcastle (1B) and Bruce Zimmermann (SP) have emerged as possible shining lights at the end of the long rebuilding tunnel.