If you had to sum up the entire 2022 Major League Baseball season in just 10 players, could you do it?
We're not talking about a ranking of the 10 best players. That's easy. I mean, it's subjective and would start a lot of arguments, but it's easy to just pick and rank 10 stars.
Rather, we're talking about the 10 players out of the more than 1,000 who have already taken the field this season who best embody the current state of MLB affairs.
These are the brightest stars of the unexpected contenders. The biggest disappointments of the surprising dumpster fires. And the players who serve as Exhibit A among the burgeoning trends from the first month of the season.
Basically, if you're just now diving headlong into the season and want to know what you've missed and what we've learned, consider this your crash course.
Tylor Megill and the Amazin' Mets
It shouldn't come as a surprise that the New York Mets are off to one of the hottest starts in baseball.
They had an Opening Day payroll nearly $70 million greater than their third-highest-in-the-majors mark from last season. Only the Los Angeles Dodgers are paying more than the Mets in 2022, and that's assuming the Dodgers are still on the hook for Trevor Bauer's salary. Take that $35.3 million off the books if he loses his appeal of the two-year suspension, and the Mets jump to No. 1 in payroll.
And yet, these are the Mets we're talking about. They went 77-85 last season in spite of that gargantuan payroll and despite playing in what was clearly the worst division in baseball. (That the Braves won the 2021 World Series doesn't change the fact that the 2021 NL East was a disaster during the regular season.) Even the most optimistic Mets fans are in a constant state of waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop.
Thus far, though, everything has been coming up Metropolitans, and the brightest star of the bunch might be the Opening Day starting pitcher whose salary is barely a drop in the bucket.
Per Spotrac, Tylor Megill is making $707,500 this season, which is only $7,500 more than the league minimum. (By comparison, Max Scherzer is making roughly $13,500 per pitch thrown, assuming 32 starts and 100 pitches per start, and without accounting for the $15 million in deferred money he's getting from the Washington Nationals.) And yet, that inexpensive ace is one of the top early candidates for the NL Cy Young Award.
Megill entered Wednesday's start against the Braves with a 1.93 ERA and 0.86 WHIP, and after the first batter of the sixth inning, he had a line of 5.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB and 9 K's. At that moment, he was down to a 1.62 ERA and 0.81 WHIP. The Mets subsequently imploded, as Megill allowed the first three of eight consecutive Braves hitters to reach base. But it was a classic case of a very impressive performance that technically doesn't even count as a quality start.
Another such case: Megill tossed the first five innings of the Mets' recent no-hitter against the Phillies.
The best part of all is that Megill isn't even supposed to be here. If Jacob deGrom had been healthy, Megill almost certainly would have opened the season in the minors. Instead, with deGrom (shoulder) out and Scherzer (hamstring) unavailable on April 7, Megill capitalized on his unexpected opportunity as the Mets' Opening Day starter and has thrived ever since.