AL Central Recap-April

I am convinced that there isn’t a 90-win team in the division, and there might not be an 85-win team, either, though that seems unlikely. 1997 is an optimistic parallel. We started the season by going 12-13 in April, trailing the upstart Milwaukee Brewers who went 12-11. In April, the Indians both scored and allowed a ton of runs. The Indians only needed 86 wins to win the division.


The Pitching (82 Runs Allowed, 2nd in the league in Strikeouts, 6th in walks allowed, as in fewest allowed)

Starters Used, Total Used: 6, 13

The Good: Zach Geinke is off to a much ballyhooed start (36 IP, .50 ERA), and one that is backed up with excellent peripherals (8 BB, 44 K). Gil Meche has also been very solid (31 IP 3.77 ERA).

The Bad: Sidney Ponson (23.1 IP, 5.79 ERA) is probably just holding this spot until Luke Hochevar gets called up.

The Bullpen: Joakim Soria has been limited by some soreness and has only thrown 5 IP. If he’s not healthy, this could be a big problem as there isn’t much besides Juan Cruz to like. No, I don’t believe Jamey Wright is going to keep this up.

The Offense (97 Runs Scored, 10th in the league in OBP, 7th in Slugging)

Position Players Used: 15

The Good: I think Alberto Callapso (.977 OPS) is obviously going to regress but I like him a lot. Very nifty trade as they sent Billy Buckner to Arizona to acquire him. Coco Crisp is acting like a slugger, drawing plenty of walks (16) and hitting for power (.224 ISO). John Buck has a slugging % of .700.

The Bad: Mike Aviles has been awful (.518 OPS) and it's not really that surprising even though he played really well last year. Alex Gordon was ineffective and now he’s out with a hip injury.


The Pitching (105 Runs Allowed, 9th in K, 5th in BB)

Starters Used, Total Used: 5, 14

The Good: Edwin Jackson (32 IP, 2.25 ERA) has been a revelation. He’s not this good, 4 unearned runs aren’t calculated in that ERA and the peripherals are merely good. Even so, this has been a very encouraging month or in our case discouraging. It’s hard to believe he’s only 25. Armando Galarraga has  picked up where he left off last year except with an uptick in both K% and BB%.

The Bad: Justin Verlander (28 IP, 6.75 ERA) has been awful thus far in terms of preventing runs and hits but has been missing a ton of bats (34) and issuing few free passes (9). This can’t hold up, either way. The Tigers are probably asking too much out of Rick Porcello (21.2 IP, 6.23 ERA) at this stage in his career. If and when Jeremy Bonderman is healthy, I think we’ll see him go back to the minors. Zach Miner has been predictably subpar.

The Bullpen: No real surprises here as it’s not very good, though Joel Zumaya is healthy, for now. Ryan Perry, coming into the season had pitched (or is it thrown) 13.2 professional innings at any level. I’m interested to see how this plays out.

The Offense (112 Runs Scored, 8th in OBP, 9th in Slugging)

Position Players Used: 15

The Good: Miguel Cabrera has been killing the ball (1.013 OPS) and this is a case of early season success where it might be sustainable. For his career, he has a ridiculous OPS+ of 141(per B-Ref which seems to be a couple of games behind) so for him to better that in his Age 26 is probably a solid bet. Brandon Inge (1.114 OPS), on the other hand, well, you get the point.

The Bad: Magglio Ordonez (.649 OPS) and Carlos Guillen (.594 OPS) are 35 and 33, respectively, and both have a history of injuries. Let’s hope it’s that instead of small sample size.


The Pitching (98 Runs Allowed, 10th in K, 7th in BB )

Starters Used, Total Used: 5, 14

The Good: Mark Buehrle (24 IP, 3.00 ERA) and John Danks (23 IP, 2.74 ERA) are pitching well. Danks, like Cliff Lee, saw his GB% take a big jump last year, and also like Cliff, it was critical to his success. Grain of Salt, but Danks’ GB% has gone up even more this year to 46%.

The Bad: Jose Contreras (22.2 IP, 6.75 ERA) has walked more batters than he’s struck out. Not good. Gavin Floyd (29.1 IP, 5.51 ERA) has been getting strikeouts (26) but is allowing way too many baserunners (52).

The Bullpen: Their Big 4 (Jenks, Dotel, Thornton, and Linebrink) have been very good (30.2 IP, 6 Runs).

The Offense (97 Runs Scored, 9th in OBP, 11th in Slugging)

Position Players Used: 15

The Good: Paul Konerko looks rejuvenated (.902 OPS) and Carlos Quentin (.961) continues to build on last years’ breakout. He’s a great hitter, but he’s also never made it through an entire season healthy.

The Bad: Alexei Ramirez looks to be in the midst of a sophomore slump (.559 OPS). If we were going to read too much into this, we’d say that teams have figured out some holes in his swing and have been exploiting them.


The Pitching (116 Runs Allowed, 11th in K, 1st in BB)

Starters Used, Total Used: 6, 15

The Good: Glen Perkins (29 IP, 2.48 ERA) and Nick Blackburn (31.1 IP, 4.02 ERA) were thought to be the weak links of the rotation going into the season. I’m still skeptical.

The Bad: To make another Cliff Lee comparison, in 2007, he got hurt in spring training and it derailed his entire season. So far, Scott Baker is following the same path (14.2 IP, 9.82 ERA) as he has been awful in his 3 starts since coming off the DL. He has served up an impressive 7 homers in those starts.

The Bullpen: The guy thought to be Nathan’s primary setup man, Jesse Crain, is hurt. On the bright side, lefty Jose Mijares has looked sharp in his 3 appearances.

The Offense (93 Runs Scored, 12th in OBP, 12th in Slugging)

Position Players Used: 13

The Good: Denard Span continues the lineup with much needed OBP (.391) at the top of the order. He’s also been playing a lot of center (10 starts) though I’m not sure how capable he is out there. Jose Morales (.391 OBP) is doing a pretty solid Joe Mauer impersonation. Mauer has not made it off the DL so far, though I do believe he is close to returning.

The Bad: Alexi Casilla (.447 OPS) is trying to cement his status as a slow starter. In his MLB career in April, over 120 plate appearances, he has a .469 OPS. In his minor league career, in 226 plate appearances, he has a .646 OPS. It’s his worth month in both cases. Along with Casilla, Michael Cuddyer, Delmon Young, Nick Punto, Carlos Gomez, and Mike Redmond have all failed to crack the arbitrary .650 OPS mark.

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