50 games in, we’ve graded each team in the AL Central.
Chicago White Sox
The White Sox 2019 have been…predictable. They don’t seem to be competing, as they are already 6 games under and have a less-than-great run differential(-56). BUT, there have been a great many bright spots. Tim Anderson seems to have turned the corner. He won AL player of the month in April, and still leads the AL in average (.337). Yoan Moncada, who had a disappointing 2018, has 9 home runs and 32 RBIs. And young pitcher Lucas Giolito seems to be finding his stride with a sub 3.00 ERA and a league leading 2 CG, a year removed from leading the AL in earned runs.
The Indians have not played to their potential in 2019. Or have they? Let’s be real: the Indians are over the hump. Although the 2016 AL Pennant team’s core is still relatively intact, they just don’t seem the same. Multiple injuries to starters have crippled the staff over recent years and the bullpen is a shell of its old self. Not to mention this team is truly front heavy. The loss or lack of production from key hitters from 2016 has proven crucial. It also isn’t helping that 2018 MVP candidate Jose Ramirez is slashing .197/4/15 with a .295 SLG%, and Francisco Lindor spent some good time on the DL. This team is 26-26, and that is exactly where they should be.
To be completely honest, this is not a good team. But as mentioned, some players have showed up. Miko Goodrum had a wonderful first two weeks (before entering a prolonged slump), and Nick Castellanos and Miguel Cabrera remain reliable hitters. On the other side of the ball, starter Spencer Trunbull has a sub-3.00 ERA in 11 starts and Matt Boyd has thrown a solid campaign so far, checking in at 4-4 with a 3.11 ERA. And maybe the most intriguing, closer Shane Greene, is 1st in AL with 16 saves and a 1.32 ERA. See you in 5 years.
Kansas City Royals
The Royals should not be judged on their poor 18-35 record. At least their offense shouldn’t. They are 29th in the league in ERA and have continued a long slump in which they have gone aceless. BUT, the offense has seen a lot of promise. 3B Hunter Dozier has had an incredible 2019, hitting .318 with an OPS of 1.005 and 33 RBIs. He is lined up to get his first All Star appearance. Whit Merrifield continues to produce and young stud Adalberto Mondesi has 41 RBIs. If this team finds pitching, I would not want to be in their division in 2021. All this combined with the rebuild of the Tigers and ChiSox, could flip this division’s reputation as baseball’s worst.
Wow. The Twins enter May 28th with the best record in baseball, something no one could’ve seen coming. So that begs the question: Are they for real? The answer is YES. They lead the AL in run differential, home runs, slugging, and are second in average. Their staff is 3rd in the league in ERA and 6th in SO. They could not be hotter. I still don’t think they will end the season first in the league, but they are going to run away with this division. With breakout seasons from basically everyone, this is a dangerous team. Jorge Polanco is hitting .332 with a WAR of 3.4, and has emerged as an MVP candidate. Eddie Rosario has 45 RBIs and 16 home runs. Max Kepler recently won AL Player of the Week, and the so-far-steal-of-the-offseason C.J. Cron has 13 homers and 34 RBIs. Jake Odorizzi is putting up career numbers, as he is 2nd in the league with a 2.16 ERA and is 7-2. Martin Perez and Jose Berrios have also found their stride. This is a World Series contender.