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Central Intelligence: The Royals aren’t in last place!

After climbing to third place last week, the Chicago White Sox crashed and burned.

Cleveland Indians v Kansas City Royals Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

To be fair, the Royals are still sort of in last place, they just aren’t there alone anymore.

This past week has been a prime example of how a tight race like that in the AL Central means things can change in a heartbeat. Last week Tigers’ fans were bemoaning the team’s poor showing and drop to fourth. Now the Tigers are back at .500 and a mere 2.5 games back from first place. With the month of June expected to be much easier on the team, there’s no telling how much things can change over the coming weeks.

As for the top slot, the Twins are still holding court, last much longer there than anyone anticipated, though their luck with rain-delayed games may be a factor, because they share the same number of wins as the number-two slotted Cleveland Indians. Only the difference in losses is keeping the Twins ahead right now.

AL Central Standings - June 5, 2017

Team Wins Losses Percentage Games Back
Team Wins Losses Percentage Games Back
Minnesota Twins 29 24 0.547 -
Cleveland Indians 29 26 0.527 1
Detroit Tigers 28 28 0.500 2.5
Kansas City Royals 24 31 0.436 6
Chicago White Sox 24 31 0.436 6

Minnesota Twins: 29-24

Could the Twins kindly share their secrets for beating the Angels in Anaheim? Is it just that Mike Trout wasn’t playing? Or is their some other trick they’re not disclosing? Regardless, the Twins took three games out of four against the Angels over the weekend.

Ervin Santana is still unbelievably good, but Twinkie Town argues much of his success is due to the tremendous outfield defense he has to work with. Santana had a total of seven wins in 2016, and already has that many this year. His ERA is 2.44, and his WHIP is 0.926. His FIP is a bit more unforgiving, at 4.64, which probably backs up the Twinkie Town opinion of the part his defense plays in his success. Still, he’s doing tremendous work for the team.

Jose Berrios is another one to watch for the Twins. He just turned 23, got his fourth win yesterday, has a 2.76 ERA, 0.888 WHIP, and a FIP of 3.72. While he still has some work to do to get truly confident, Berrios has absolutely played a hand in the Twins success this season.

Negatives for the Twins last week were positives for baseball in general: The aforementioned Santana gave up the memorable 600th home run to Angel Albert Pujols, a grand slam no less.

Up Next: @ Mariners, @ Giants

Cleveland Indians: 29-26

The Indians will want to make the most of their upcoming series against the struggling Chicago White Sox, because with two off days this week, most other teams will have an extra day of play to use to their advantage.

Forgive me if some of this sounds familiar, but the Indians dropped two out of three to the struggling Royals this weekend, just as they did the weekend prior. In both cases the only win of each series was a blow-out on the Sunday game. The Indians were better against the Oakland Athletics, who they managed to get three out of four wins against.

To be fair to Cleveland, in one of their outings this weekend they had to face the unstoppable force that is Royals pitcher Jason Vargas, and he made them look like little leaguers.

Positive notes for the Indians: Corey Kluber is back! Boy is he ever back. He went six scoreless in his June 1 return, striking out 10, basically using the Athletics to prove to everyone else just how great he is now feeling since he was on the DL. Austin Jackson is also back from the DL but that’s really only exciting if you’re a Tigers fan who misses seeing him in games.

Please also take a minute to watch this insane play made by Trevor Bauer on Sunday, because it defies all logic.

Up Next: @ Rockies, vs. White Sox

Kansas City Royals: 24-31

Where the Indians will have a bonus off day this week, the Royals will have none. They’ll also have to face off against the red-hot Houston Astros in four straight games, which means their current tenuous hold on not-so-last-place may be short lived. After losing two out of three games to the Tigers last week — a welcome change for the Tigers, if not the Royals — the boys from Kansas City were thrilled to come away with a series win against Cleveland on the weekend.

Once again, Jason Vargas is proving to be the shining light of the Royals pitching staff. With seven wins, a 2.08 ERA, 1.096 WHIP, and 3.16 FIP, he’s among the best pitchers in baseball right now, and certainly one of the things keeping the Royals from fumbling even further away from the .500 mark. Still, with the way things are going for the team, don’t be surprised if Vargas is sporting a different uniform after the trade deadline.

Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer collected his 1000th career hit last week, which was a a milestone moment in an otherwise disappointing season for the former All-Star.

Up Next: vs. Astros, @ Padres

Chicago White Sox: 24-31

This is a prime example of what one bad series can do. After beating the Tigers three games out of a four-game series last weekend, the big cats had their revenge, sealing a weekend sweep with a triumphant walk-off win on Sunday. The series was especially hard for rookie reliever Brad Goldberg, whose debut in Saturday’s game did not go nearly as well as he or the Sox would have hoped. He started out by giving up a home run to Justin Upton, then allowed another two runs to score. His ERA after his first day in the majors? 108.00.

Yes. Seriously. 108.00.

Now the team finds themselves in the unenviable position of being tied for last place (or tied for fourth place, if you’re feeling generous) with all season last-placers the Royals. Not an ideal situation, but much more in line with how people predicted the Sox season would play out.

In other White Sox news, long time Sox broadcaster Hawk Harrelson, who listeners either love or hate, and who has no problem being totally biased towards his home team, has announced he will retire in 2018. Harrelson has been announcing White Sox games since 1990, with a brief earlier stint from 1982-1985.

Up Next: @ Tampa Bay, @ Indians