Much like the number nine, the number two has been ingrained in baseball since the beginning. Two teams, two batter’s boxes, two-seamers and doubleheaders all come to mind. But in 2022, deuces will be wild, with plenty of teams bringing in new players to create some dynamic duos as they strive towards glory in October.
Here are the best new duos debuting this season.
Freddie Freeman & Mookie Betts
The Dodgers were already slated to start Opening Day with three former MVP Award winners on their roster, but they shocked the world when they landed a fourth in the form of the 2020 NL MVP in Freeman.
Much like Freeman, Betts arrived in Los Angeles in 2020 with an MVP and a World Series ring already under his belt. He crushed all expectations in his first season in Dodger Blue, winning both a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award and came in second in NL MVP voting to Freeman. He had the last laugh against Freddie, though, as the Dodgers beat Freeman’s Braves in the NLCS and Mookie led the team to their first World Series title in over three decades.
The two will combine forces starting in 2022 in what is one of the most dangerous lineups baseball has seen in a long time. To say it’s World Series or bust for LA with Betts and Freeman steering the ship would be an understatement.
Shohei Ohtani & Noah Syndergaard
Talk about thunder and lightning. Ohtani was the game’s most electric player in 2021, winning the AL MVP award thanks to his tremendous two-way play that saw him slug 46 homers and strike out 156 batters. Combine that with Syndergaard, whose 97.9 mph average fastball velocity is the fastest among starting pitchers with at least 5,000 pitches thrown since his debut in 2015, and you get one of the loudest pitching duos in baseball.
Syndergaard might only be in Anaheim for one season, as he signed a one-year deal while working his way back from Tommy John surgery in 2020, but in the short time he’ll spend following Ohtani in the rotation, plenty of K’s will be on the ledger. And maybe he’ll convince manager Joe Maddon to give him some at-bats as well, as Syndergaard has six career homers to his name.
Corey Seager & Marcus Semien
The new kids on the block in the AL West, Seager and Semien will patrol the middle infield for Texas as two of the offseason’s biggest signings. Semien returns to the West after a quick pitstop in Toronto that saw him set the single-season record for home runs by a second baseman, while Seager swaps leagues for the first time.
Seager should have no problem settling into his new home, as he’s already fourth on Globe Life Field’s home run leaderboard after swatting 8 home runs during the 2020 Postseason. Semien isn’t far behind with 4 to his name in Arlington. The Rangers are banking that by the end of their tenure – Semien is signed until 2028 and Seager through 2031 – the pair should occupy the top two spots fairly easily.
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Jacob deGrom & Max Scherzer
At one time, these two were bitter rivals in the NL East, as Scherzer headlined the Nationals’ rotation for the better part of seven seasons. Now, they form the most formidable rotation duo in the Majors.
Scherzer arrives in Queens coming off a season where he finished third in NL Cy Young award voting and held the lowest ERA of his career at 2.46. During his time in Los Angeles, he had a measly 1.98 ERA with 89 strikeouts in 11 starts. Combine that with deGrom’s 1.08 ERA and 0.55 WHIP in 15 starts in 2022 and it’s hard to find a more dangerous combo this century.
The big question will be if both can stay healthy all season. Scherzer missed a few starts due to a groin issue and dealt with a couple smaller injuries down the stretch last season, but for the most part, he’s been pretty good at staying on the field. deGrom is coming off of a forearm issue that forced him out in mid-July last year. If they avoid the injury bug, they might just take the Mets to October themselves.
Trevor Story & Xander Bogaerts
It’s often said that having too much of a good thing could be bad, but no team will complain about having two All-Star shortstops in their lineup.
Story joins the Red Sox after spending six seasons in Colorado, where he made two All-Star teams and won two Silver Slugger awards. He won’t play shortstop however, as Boston already has a homegrown All-Star there in Xander Bogaerts. Story will instead shift to second base and give manager Alex Cora one of the hardest-hitting middle infields in MLB.
While there’s no doubt they will hit, it will be interesting to see how they coexist on the field. Bogaerts was near the bottom of the fielding leaderboards in 2021 with -9 Outs Above Average, the second-worst amongst shortstops. Story wasn’t much better with -7, but maybe the switch to second will help his fielding and perhaps take some pressure off Bogaerts at short.
Juan Soto & Nelson Cruz
The Boomstick will join the Bambino in the nation’s capital in 2022, giving the Nationals two of the best sluggers on the planet.
Soto has already proved to be one of the best hitters in baseball at just 23 years old. Over his first four seasons in the Majors, Soto hit 98 homers and holds a line of .313/.465/.534. He’s been top 10 in NL MVP award voting in each of the past three years and already has two Silver Slugger awards.
Hitting right behind will be the man nearly 20 years his senior. Cruz didn’t hit his stride until his age-28 season, when he exploded for 33 homers as a member of the Texas Rangers. Since then, he’s hit 427 of his 449 career home runs and received four Silver Slugger awards. The 41-year-old will be inching closer to the 500 homer mark in his 18th season.
And just to put in perspective just how big the age gap is between the two, when Cruz was making his MLB debut in September of 2005, 6-year-old Soto was likely starring on his t-ball squad.
José Berríos & Kevin Gausman
The Blue Jays made it a point during the offseason to build stronger, deeper pitching staff after they missed out on a Wild Card spot by a single game in 2021. And by doing so, they now have one of the best 1-2 punches in the American League.
Berríos came over in a trade with Minnesota during 2021, making 12 starts to the tune of a 3.58 ERA. This past offseason, he signed a deal that keeps him in Toronto until at least 2026. Gausman broke out with a 2.81 ERA with San Francisco last season, earning him a five-year contract up north. While the departure of AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray will undoubtedly be a big blow, bringing in two reliable workhorses will surely put those worries at bay, especially after bolstering their defense with Matt Chapman at the hot corner.