AL Central Update – 6/3/13: Tigers Lead Indians By Half Game


The AL Central continues to be one of the strangest divisions in baseball. The Detroit Tigers have the worst winning percentage of any division leader and an awful Royals team has the best winning percentage of any last place team in baseball. Only 6 1/2 games separate the Tigers and the Royals as no team team seems eager to establish themselves as the front runner. The Tigers and Cleveland Indians continue to be the top two in the Central but both have their issues. As crazy as it seems, no one is out of it yet for the division title.

May 30, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Doug Fister (58) pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the seventh inning at PNC Park. The Pittsburgh Pirates won 1-0 in eleven innings. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

1) Detroit Tigers (30-25): Last week – 2-5. Summary: The Tigers must get past a 3-game series at home against the scrappy Rays before meeting up with the 2nd place Indians in a weekend series at home. As close as the race is, the Tigers must take care of business in Detroit against division teams, especially the Indians. Look for the Tigers to make a move this week and establish themselves clearly in the division. Miguel Cabrera continues to dominate as he leads the AL in Average (.369) and RBI (65), and is second (17) behind Chris Davis for the Home Run lead. Team AL rank – Hitting: Average – 1st (.279), Home Runs – 9th (62), Runs – 3rd (285). Pitching: ERA – 3rd (3.72), WHIP – 1st (1.21), Strikeouts – 1st (5.48).

2) Cleveland Indians (30-26):Last week – 3-4. Summary: It is a huge week on the road for the Indians. On Monday, they begin a 3-game stint against the Yankees before their important head-to-head weekend tilt in Detroit. It is bad timing for the Indians that the Tigers are home all week while Cleveland has to play on the road. If things go against the Indians, the Tigers may have some breathing room room by week’s end. The Indians should be fine if they can win 3 of their 6 games this week; they will be great if they can take at least 2 in Detroit. Team AL rank – Hitting: Average – 6th (.261), Home Runs – 3rd (69), Runs – 5th (274). Pitching: ERA – 11th (4.37), WHIP – 10th (1.34), Strikeouts – 3rd (482).

May 29, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Twins left fielder Josh Willingham (16) hits a double in the eighth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Target Field. The Twins won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

3) Minnesota Twins (25-29):Last week – 6-1. Summary: The Twins have bounced back from a brutal 10 game losing streak with a 6-1 stretch to pull themselves from last place to third and only 4 1/2 games back of the Tigers. The Twins travel to Kansas City for 3 against the struggling Royals in a series featuring two teams trying to find a way to challenge the divisional leaders. Minnesota then heads to the nations capitol for 3 against Washington, a team struggling to stay around the .500 mark. The Twins have a chance to make a move right here if they can stay hot for another week. Team AL rank – Hitting: Average – 12th (.245), Home Runs – 14th (50), Runs – 10th (237). Pitching: ERA – 12th (4.44), WHIP – 13th (1.42), Strikeouts – 15th (312, and in last place by 54).

4) Chicago White Sox (24-30): Last week – 0-6. Summary: The White Sox offense is struggling mightily. In their six games this past week, they were shutout 3 times and scored 3 runs in the other 3 games. They dropped from 3rd place and .500, to 4th place and 5 1/2 games back. Coming up, Chicago hopes to get well in Seattle against a team that struggles at the plate almost as much as they do, then they return home for weekend series against a tough A’s team that plays well on the road. The White Sox, like the Twins and Royals, are somehow not out of the division race, but they need to turn things around quickly. Team AL rank – Hitting: Average – 15th (.237), Home Runs – 13th (52), Runs – 15th (186). Pitching: ERA – 6th (3.79), WHIP – 4th (1.26), Strikeouts – 10th (411).

5) Kansas City Royals (23-31): Last week – 2-5. Summary – It is amazing that the Royals could go 6-21 over a four week stretch and not just be buried in the division. They do have the best winning percentage of any last place team but they cannot hope that they will still be relevant at all if they cannot find a way to turn things around offensively.  The time is now for the Royals to get back on track as they get two teams this week, at home, who are not the strongest in the league, including a big 3-game tilt against a Twins team that is trying to claw its way back into the divisional race. The Royals have to win at least two games against the Twins and at least two against the worst team in the league, the Houston Astros. The Royals lost a series to the Astros a couple of weeks ago and if Kansas City want to be taken seriously as a contender, they need to turn things around this week. Team AL rank – Hitting: Average – 8th (.257), Home Runs – 15th (29), Runs – 13th (210). Pitching: ERA – 5th (3.77), WHIP – 8th (1.30), Strikeouts – 12th (.392).

Several teams in this division have been struggling and need to get healthy very soon. All but the White Sox play a division rival this week, so there could be a very different look to the AL Central in a week from now.