AL Central week in review (May 20-26)

Jim Rogash

Last week's action around the division, with the good, the bad, and the ugly from the Tribe and their rivals.


A.L. Central standings through Sunday, May 26:

Team W L GB RS RA DIFF
Detroit 28 20 - 259 193 +66
Cleveland 27 22 1.5 248 221 +27
Chicago 24 24 4 177 188 -11
Kansas City 21 26 6.5 192 191 +1
Minnesota 19 28 8.5 198 230 -32

The AL Central standings are beginning to look more like most people expected, with the Tigers in 1st as one of the very best teams in the league, and the Twins in last, as one of the very worst teams. Cool Standings (used by ESPN) now projects 89 wins the the Indians and gives them a 47% chance of making the playoffs. If you're the type who tempers their expectations, Fangraphs' advanced standings now projects 82 wins for the Indians, putting them 12 games back of Detroit and 4 games back of the second wildcard.

Detroit Tigers (5-1)

The Tigers began their week by sweeping a quick 2-game series in Cleveland. On Tuesday Max Scherzer went 8 innings, at one point retiring 22 straight hitters. Miguel Cabrera hit his 12th home run of the season too. On Wednesday Justin Verlander made his third consecutive shaky start, but the offense picked him up by scoring 11 runs. Cabrera homered again. The Tigers returned home and continued their hot streak during 4 games against Minnesota. The opener was a 7-6 win for Detroit, with another home run from Cabrera. He finally DIDN'T hit one out Friday night, but Anibal Sanchez took a no hitter into the 9th inning, ultimately settling for a 1-hit shutout with 12 strikeouts. The bats finally cooled Saturday and the Tigers lost 3-2, but in Sunday's finale it was business as usual again, a 6-1 victory marked by 6 solid innings from Scherzer.

Cabrera already has 57 RBI in 48 games, a product of his incredible production in a stacked lineup (one that leads MLB in scoring). He's on pace for 192, which would be a Major League record. Meanwhile, their starting rotation has the best FIP (fielding independent pitching) and strikeout rate in baseball.

Player of the Week: Miguel Cabrera (.364/.481/.818, 8 hits, 3 HR, 7 R, 10 RBI)

Player of the Weak: Prince Fielder (.217/.333/.304, 5 strikeouts)

Cleveland Indians (2-5)

The Tribe finished off a dramatic 4-game sweep of the Mariners on Monday, getting their third walk-off win of the series when Yan Gomes hit his second home run of the day in the 10th inning. From there though, the Indians began a brutal 25-game stretch, composed entirely of games against teams above .500, with 15 of the games on the road. It has not started off well.

Tuesday and Wednesday brought losses to Detroit. In the first one, the Indians managed only 1 run on just 3 hits, wasting a solid start from Corey Kluber. In the second loss, Ubaldo Jimenez saw his run of good outings end. He allowed 6 runs and lasted just 4 innings, wasting a good showing by the offense (including home runs by Gomes and Carlos Santana).

Four games in Boston came next. Thursday was great, as every starter had at least one hit, led by Drew Stubbs, who had 3 extra-base hits in a 12-3 romp. But the bats went quiet again Friday and Justin Masterson was hit hard in an 8-1 loss. Things got worse from there, with back-to-back late-inning collapses, the most painful sort of losses. On Saturday Vinnie Pestano allow 4 runs in the 8th inning and on Sunday Chris Perez allowed 4 runs in the 9th (leaving with shoulder soreness before it was over). After three of the most enjoyable weeks I can remember for the Indians, this week was a rough one.

Player of the Week: Yan Gomes (.353/.389/.941, 3 HR, 4 R, 7 RBI)

Player of the Weak: Jason Giambi (.000/.000/.000, 0 for 12 on the week, with 4 strikeouts)

Chicago White Sox (5-1)

The White Sox hosted the Red Sox to begin their week. Adam Dunn hit his 11th home run of the year in the series opener, a 6-4 win for Chicago. On Tuesday Jeff Keppinger finally hit his first home run of the season and Jose Quintanapitched 6.1 shutout frames in another win for the Pale Hose. Chicago couldn't finish off the sweep though, dropping Wednesday's finale 6-2. The Miami Marlins were next into town, which is as good a thing that can happen for a team right now. Friday night John Danks made his first start in over a year after needing shoulder surgery, he went 6 good innings in a White Sox win. Jake Peavy threw his 14th career complete game in another win Saturday and this time Chicago was able to complete the sweep.

Chris Sale was scratched from his start Wednesday because of shoulder soreness. He pitched a side session over the weekend though, and was pronounced ready to make his next start, Tuesday. Obviously that's great news for Chicago, who can ill afford to lose its best player.

Player of the Week: Jake Peavy (1 start, 9 innings, 1 run, 6 strikeouts)

Player of the Weak: Adam Dunn (.091/.200/.364, 10 strikeouts)

Kansas City Royals (1-6)

The Royals were in Houston for 3 games to start their week. They lost Monday's opener 7-6 before bouncing back to win Tuesday on the strength of collecting 13 hits, all of them singles. That's the most hits without any going for extra bases by any team this season. In Wednesday's rubber match the bats went cold and Kansas wasted another good game byJames Shields, which has become a recurring them for them (he's got a 2.47 ERA, but the Royals are just 3-7 in his starts, due to their scoring 2 runs or fewer in 6 of those games). Next the Royals returned home to face the Angels. The series was a disaster for Kansas City, as they scored only 8 total runs and lost all four games, dropping them to five games under .500 and 6.5 games out of 1st place, both of which are the worst they've been all season.

The Royals starting rotation is averaging 6.33 innings per start, the highest figure of any team in baseball, and their bullpen has been solid too. The lineup, filled with many players who were formerly highly regarded prospects, has dropped to near the bottom of the American League in scoring, and Kansas City's promising start is flaming out.

Player of the Week: J.C. Gutierrez (4 games, 5 IP, 0 runs... yep, that's the best they had last week)

Player of the Weak: Billy Butler (.143/.333/.143, 4 strikeouts)

Minnesota Twins (1-5)

The Twins were in Atlanta to begin their week and the results were much the same as in the 1991 World Series, when Minnesota was crowned as champions. Unfortunately for them, those Twins lost all three games in Atlanta, and that's what happened this time too. Monday they managed just 1 run, Tuesday they blew a 9th inning lead, and Wednesday Vance Worley allowed 8 runs in 3.2 innings and saw his ERA balloon above 7.00.

Four games in Detroit came next, and they didn't go much better. The bats put up 6 runs on 12 hits Thursday, but they weren't enough as the bullpen again fell apart. Friday night Minnesota managed just 1 hit, a Joe Mauer single in the 9th inning (the third time in his career he's broken up a no-no in the 9th). The Twins finally won a game Saturday, as P.J. Walters pitched well and Mauer homered. Sunday was another weak-hitting defeat though, wrapping up a pretty miserable week that leaves Minnesota with the American League's second-worst record.

Player of the Week: Josh Willingham (.280/.400/.640, 3 HR, 4 R, 5 RBI)

Player of the Weak: Eduardo Escobar (.000/.100/.000, 47 questions about why he played in 7 games)

2013 Player Power Poll

Pitchers:

1) Anibal Sanchez (Tigers) - 64.1 IP, 2.38 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 11.19 K/9, 2.38 BB/9

2) James Shields (Royals) - 73.0 IP, 2.47 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 8.51 K/9, 1.85 BB/9

3) Chris Sale (White Sox) - 64.0 IP, 2.53 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 8.58 K/9, 2.11 BB/9

4) Jake Peavy (White Sox) - 60.2 IP, 2.97 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 9.35 K/9, 2.23 BB/9

5) Justin Masterson (Indians) - 76.0 IP, 3.20 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 9.00 K/9, 3.20 BB/9

Hitters:

1) Miguel Cabrera (Tigers) - .385/.460/.677, 75 H, 14 HR, 41 R, 57 RBI

2) Carlos Santana (Indians) - .290/.409/.529, 30 BB, 13 2B, 8 HR, 29 R

3) Joe Mauer (Twins) - .339/.411/.483, 61 H, 22 BB, 17 2B, 29 R

4) Prince Fielder (Tigers) - .270/.397/.494, 33 BB, 9 HR, 23 R, 42 RBI

5) Alex Gordon (Royals) - .335/.374/.503, 66 H, 11 2B, 30 R, 30 RBI

The Week Ahead

Indians: 2 @ Reds, 2 vs. Reds, 3 vs. Rays

Royals: 2 vs. Cardinals, 2 @ Cardinals, 3 @ Rangers

Tigers: 2 vs. Pirates, 2 @ Pirates, 3 @ Orioles

Twins: 2 @ Brewers, 2 vs. Brewers, 3 vs. Mariners

White Sox: 2 vs. Cubs, 2 @ Cubs, 3 @ Athletics

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