By: Sam Gagliardi
The American League Central division is bad. However, this statement should not come as a surprise. Before the season began, most predicted the division to be MLB’s weakest, but just how bad every single team in the division has been is quite shocking, embarrassing actually. The Cleveland Indians sit atop the division with a record under the break even point, 22-23. While the Detroit Tigers, who blatantly admitted a complete rebuild at the beginning of the season sit only 3 games back in third place. The — somewhat — resurgent Minnesota Twins are in second, also with a losing record (20-23), only 1 game behind the Indians. To put in perspective just how bad this division is, the division-leading Indians would sit 4th (!) in the very mediocre NL West, 3.5 games behind Colorado Rockies. Let's go team-by-team to understand the division’s putrid play, and see if any team can eventually seize control of the division.
First, the cellar-dwellers: Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals. There is not much to say, everyone expected these teams to be bad, and they are. The White Sox were supposed to make strides this year with a young roster, but nobody on their team can hit the baseball, as they rank close to dead last in every major team hitting statistic. The Royals are in complete tear down mode and it shows. They sit close to, if not dead last in every major-team pitching statistic. The Tigers, who have played better than expected, have now lost 4 games in a row and will soon regress to the rebuilding team everyone expected to see. The Twins have been wildly inconsistent all season. Both Brian Dozier and Miguel Sanó, two very important bats in their lineup are struggling mightily this year, hitting .230 and .213 respectively. Ervin Santana, the Twins best starting pitcher, is expected off the DL soon and will be a big upgrade to a pitching staff that has been average at best. The Twins can expect to improve over the course of the season, but they let their best opportunity to overtake the struggling Indians pass them by.
The Indians, who were the prohibited division favorites before the season, have played very mediocre baseball. Their starting rotation has been amazing. If you subtract Josh Tomlin — 0-4 with an 7.84 ERA — they have a combined 2.84 ERA. The offense has begun to heat up and has been one of the most productive in baseball during the month of May. The only aspect holding this team back has been their bullpen, and wow has it been bad. Andrew Miller, one of the best bullpen arms in baseball has been hurt for a chunk of this season, which must be considered. But as a whole, the bullpen ERA is a whopping 5.68. That is the worst in the AL after having the best AL bullpen ERA just last year. The Indians will probably survive with a bad bullpen in his horrible division, but if they want any shot of returning to the World Series, their bullpen needs to improve. Hopefully some team soon begins to play watchable baseball in the division, because to this point, no team wants to.
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