Even this early into the 2022 MLB season, a handful of teams are starting to fall out of the playoff race. The teams at the bottom of the American League standings have dug themselves into holes that won’t be easy to escape over the next several months.
The Detroit Tigers (8-20), Boston Red Sox (10-19) and Kansas City Royals (9-17) have the AL’s worst records more than 16% of the way through the regular season. All three teams are at least seven games out of first place in their respective divisions and in the wild-card standings.
Boston is easily the most disappointing team in the AL. After reaching the 2021 ALCS, the Red Sox are an AL-worst 10.5 games out of first place. Boston even trails the Baltimore Orioles, which are in fourth place in the AL East and not expected to compete for a playoff spot.
The Red Sox’s offense is 13th among 15 AL teams in runs scored. The lineup was supposed to carry Boston, but only a handful of hitters have been very productive. Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez have carried their weight. Every other player with more than five at-bats has an OPS below .575.
Boston’s relievers have blown nine of 14 save opportunities. The Red Sox’s bullpen has a 4.19 ERA.
Only Kansas City has a worse bullpen ERA than Boston. The Royals are dead last in team ERA and second-to-last in runs scored.
Every player on the Royals who has more than 35 at-bats has an OPS south of .780. Whit Merrifield, who has led the league in hits twice and hit a league-high 42 doubles in 2021, is hitting .135.
The Tigers are fifth in the AL with a 3.49 ERA, but Detroit hasn’t been able to overcome the AL’s worst offense. No one on the Tigers has more than three home runs or 11 RBI.
Neither the Tigers nor Royals were expected to compete in 2022. Kansas City went 74-88 last season, missing the playoffs for a sixth straight year. Detroit’s 77-85 record was the franchise’s best since 2016. The Tigers are nine years removed from their last postseason victory.
The Royals are 7.5 games behind the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central. The Tigers are 9.5 games out of first place.
No team that was more than 2.5 games out of the playoff race at this point last year made the 2021 MLB playoffs.
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