In spite of it being early in the season and the very definition of too soon to call anything, the current standings are bound to create some divisive responses from fans of various AL Central teams. For the Detroit Tigers, the view from the top is a nice one, and it’s a position they earned in spite of the best (or some might say worst) efforts of their own bullpen.
Fans of the 2016 AL champion Cleveland Indians are feeling the sting of an unexpectedly dismal start to the year, however. The Indians — a team almost every baseball expert and betting site had projected to runaway with the Central again this year — are rounding out the bottom of the heap, with a surprising 5-7 record.
The rest of the division split most of their series, keeping the balance much the same as it was last week. However with only three games separating first and last place, and a large chunk of games to be played between division rivals this coming week, it’s safe to say we will see some shifts in the standings over the coming days.
AL Central Standings: April 17, 2017
|Chicago White Sox||6||5||0.545||1.5|
|Kansas City Royals||6||6||0.500||2|
Minnesota Twins: 7-5
In spite of the Twins’ surprisingly dominant start they had a rough week, facing off against division rivals the Tigers and the White Sox. They lost both series, but managed to avoid the sweep in each case.
The dismal bat of Byron Buxton continues to be a problem for the Twins. He’s hitting a pitiful .100/.143/.293, and while those numbers are sure to climb, it’s not the start to the season the Twins wanted to see for the centerfielder. Thankfully for the Twins, Buxton hasn’t let his slumping bat impact his performance in the field.
Equally positive for the Twins is the continued good performances of Miguel Sano, Max Kepler, and Brian Dozier, who seem hell bent on proving to the world that Minnesota is a team worth watching this season.
On the pitching side, Ervin Santana pitched a complete game shutout against the Chicago White Sox on the 15th and on his season to date has a 0.41 ERA. Yes, you read that right. 0.41. In his outing against Chicago he gave up only one walk and one hit. The Twins seem to have a lot of different elements working for them early in the season, and it will be interesting to see how long they can maintain this positive start.
Up next: vs. Indians, vs. Tigers
Chicago White Sox: 6-5
The White Sox had an excellent week, winning both their series against the Indians and the Twins 2-1. They took something of a beating in a 6-0 shut out against the Twins on the 15th, but have otherwise had a promising start to the season following their weather-shortened first week of play.
The Sox continue to juggle options for their pitching rotation, seeming to have some difficulty coming up with a permanent suitable fifth man. This week, Rule 5 player Dylan Covey made his MLB debut pitching against the Twins. Covey was probably aided a little by the fact that Twin’s centerfielder Byron Buxton loves to swing at all the wrong pitches, giving Covey his only strike out of the night. The White Sox rookie managed a decent first outing a low-scoring game. He walked three, but gave up only one earned run.
Former Tiger Avisail Garcia continues to be one to watch for the Sox, as he has had a hit in 10 of the first 11 games and has reached the base in all 11 games. He’s hitting .421/.476/.579 for the season so far. Maybe he should share some of that good luck with Jacob May who is currently 0-for-21.
Up next: @ Yankees, vs. Indians
Kansas City Royals: 6-6
After dropping two out of three games to the A’s, the Royals went on a winning streak, finishing the series with Oakland on a high note, then sweeping the Angels. It was a run of good luck the team needed to bolster their spirits after a shaky opening series agains to the Twins.
Ian Kennedy managed to take no-hitter through almost five innings against the Angels in Sunday’s game, and the Royals held Anaheim scoreless to end the series sweep.
Jason Vargas might be the biggest surprise of the Royals rotation. The lefty is returning for his first full season since Tommy John surgery, so it’s safe to say expectations for his performance were taken with a large grain of salt. In his first two starts of the season, however, he has won both games, given up only one run, and maintained a dazzling 0.66 ERA. He already has 14 strikeouts and a mere 2 walks over those two games. The Royals have got to be pretty pleased with Vargas right out of the gate.
Cleveland Indians: 5-7
After winning their home opener against the Chicago White Sox, things started to get shaky for the Indians. They dropped the next two games to Chicago, then lost two out of three to the Tigers. It was the first time the Indians lost a home series to the Tigers since June of 2015.
The rivalry between the Indians and the Tigers was in full swing during the three game series in Cleveland. There was talk of sign stealing, Miguel Cabrera barked at the Indians dugout after an inside pitch from Trevor Bauer — whose command was shaky at best all night — and ultimately a lot of interesting baseball was played.
Lonnie Chisenhall has been clutch for the Indians so far, and is one of the top scoring centerfielders in all of baseball so far this season in spite of barely any plate appearances. Maybe he and Alex Avila can compare notes on being the most under-appreciated home run hitters on their respective teams. Yan Gomes, however, continues to be a big old wet blanket for the team.
Second baseman Jason Kipnis continued his rehab stint with the Akron RubberDucks and it’s a sure thing the team can’t wait to have his bat back in their lineup.
Up next: @ Twins, @ White Sox