The Indians are the big surprise in the American League Central Division as they battle it out with the Tigers for the division title. We also can't count out the White Sox and Twins who are capable of putting on a run. This division will go down to the wire.
As we enter the 2nd
half of the MLB season in the American League Central Division
, the Minnesota
Twins, Chicago White Sox, and Detroit Tigers were all casted as the MLB odds tri-favorites to win the division, listed at +150, but it's the play of the Cleveland Indians that has
turned this division upside down.
At the beginning of the season, nothing was expected of the Indians. They were
+3300 to win the division and their over-under total for wins was 71. The
Indians are an automatic over. They got off to a great start to the season and
are currently tied for the division lead with the Tigers at 48-42. Bodog
currently list's Cleveland at 18/1 to win the AL Pennant and 35/1 to win the
. First, they need to win the division. Can they keep the momentum
Veteran Travis Hafner started the season out like a ball of fire but was out
for a month due to injury. In all, Hafner has had a great season in the 52
games that he's played. He has 8 HR, 36 RBI, .333 BA, and a sharp .422 OBP.
Hafner has been known to be a power hitter, but if he could continue this type
of play, Cleveland would be a good MLB betting pick to win the division.
Asdrubal Cabrera has led this team offensively. He leads in all of the major
statistical categories with 15 HR, 53 RBI, .295 BA, and 12 SB. Look for more
consistent play from Cabrera. The Indians rely on him heavily. Carlos Santana
is Cleveland's other source of power. Santana has a poor batting average at
.233 but his 62 walks (30 more walks than anyone else on the team) helps get
him on base at a .364 clip. Santana has 14 dingers and 44 RBI.
On the pitching end, the Indians have 3 solid starters and Fausto Carmona.
Carmona hasn't been able to get on track this season. He's been hit hard with a
4-10 record and a 5.78 ERA. Picking up the slack for Carmona, starter Justin
Masterson has been masterful. Masterson leads the starters with a 2.80 ERA to
go along with an 8-6 record. Josh Tomlin isn't a pitcher that's going to
strikeout too many batters but has only allowed 14 walks in 116 2/3 innings.
Tomlin has also been "under control" with his record with a 10-4
mark. Cleveland has a couple of good setup men and closer Chris Perez has had a
very nice season.
This is a solid team all around. They don't excel at any particular part of the
game but they're fairly deep and consistent. The Indians have a decent shot at
winning the division if they play like they did earlier in the year.
Betting odds makers are giving the Tigers a better chance of winning the division at 10/1
and the World Series at 18/1. When you think of the Tigers, you think of Miguel
Cabrera offensively and Justin Verlander as the "go to guy".
Verlander has been more than the go to guy this season. Along with a no-hitter,
Verlander leads the team, going 12-4 and 2.15 ERA. Opposing batters are hitting
just .188 off of Verlander. He's one of the best pitchers in baseball and will
be tough for any opposing team to hit against if the Tigers make it to
The Tigers give up a lot of runs. They're 26th in the league with a 4.27 ERA.
Pitchers Max Scherzer (10-4, 4.69) and Rick Porcello (8-6, 4.78) have solid
records but have benefited greatly from run support. Closer Jose Valverde
hasn't blown a save all season but the Tigers pitching staff is average at
Hitting is one of Detroit's strengths. They rank in the top 10 in 10
statistical offensive categories. They have 4 good hitters in the lineup
hitting above .300. Victor Martinez (6 HR, 50 RBI, .316 BA), Jhonny Peralta (14
HR, 50 RBI, .312 BA), Miguel Cabrera (18 HR, 59 RBI, .311 BA), and Brennan
Boesch (12 HR, 44 RBI, .306 BA) lead the team in hitting. This is as good as it
get's. It's very rare when you add in Alex Avila, that a team can say that they
have 5 big time hitters.
If the Tigers win the division and more, they're going to win off of hitting
and the pitching of Justin Verlander. The other starters will be need to step
Chicago White Sox
At the beginning of the season, this team was expected to possibly win the
division. They got off to a terrible start and have gradually reached their way
back to respectability at 44-48. They play in a home run friendly park but seem
to play better on the road than at home.
Normally, I like to start off with the leaders of the team. An expected
leader,Adam Dunn, has been a big 6 foot 6, 287 pound failure. Much was expected
from Dunn with his mammoth strength. Dunn has managed to hit 9 HR and 34 RBI.
He's also struckout 117 times in 269 at-bats and has a batting average of just
.160. That's one of the worst batting averages that you'll ever see a major
league player have.
Veteran Paul Konerko is the star of the team. To nobody's surprise, Konerko has
carried the White Sox with 22 HR, 67 RBI, .319 BA. This is one very underrated
baseball player. With Carlos Quentin's added power (17 HR, 51 RBI, .251 BA),
these two players make a formidable duo. The play of Adam Dunn might be a big
factor in the 2nd half. He need's to find his swing again. At .160, it's
When everyone is pitching up to their abilities, the White Sox have a deep
pitching staff. Some starters haven't gotten the run support that they had
hoped for. Philip Humber (8-5, 3.10) has been the best pitcher on the staff.
Jake Peavy (9 starts), Gavin Floyd, and Edwin Jackson all need to pick it up in
the 2nd half if the White Sox plan on passing the leaders and taking the
division. Starter John Danks started off the season in the dumps at 0-8 but has
picked it up and is 3-8 with a 4.21 ERA. I'm less worried about Danks than the
The White Sox didn't have a legitimate closer at the beginning of the year but
Sergio Santos has done a decent job filling in.
The White Sox are 15/1 odds
to win the AL pennant while they're 30/1 to win the
. It would take nothing short of a small miracle for this to
The most unpredictable team in the division is the Minnesota Twins. They're the
"Wild Card" of the division. This is a streaky team that got back
into contention on a big winning streak. They were also without the services of
catcher Joe Mauer for most of the season. Mauer has returned but has been less
than stellar. Power hitter Justin Morneau has been out of action for over a
month, but when he was playing, he wasn't playing up to his standards either.
This team is lucky to have the record that they have.
Much of their success is do the play of Michael Cuddyer. For the season,
Cuddyer has 13 HR, 43 RBI, .296 BA, .372 OBP. Cuddyer hit well during the long
winning streak and has been reliable. Outfielder Jason Kubel got off to a
great start this season but unfortunately has been out of action for 2
months Third baseman Danny Valencia offers some form of productivity for
the Twinkies. Valencia has 10 HR, 47 RBI, .235 BA). The batting average is
sub-par but the Twins will take the power numbers. Minnesota is in dire need of
The Twins aren't much better in the pitching department. The only starter to
have a sub 4.00 ERA is Scott Baker. baker is 7-5 with a 3.01 ERA. Carl Pavano,
Brian Duensing, and Nick Blackburn are all hovering around the .500 mark and
slightly above a 4.00 ERA which is very telling regarding their record.
Closer Matt Capps has been terrible this season. Capps is 2-4 with 15 saves (6
blown saves) and a 4.42 ERA. If Capps had a decent season, this could be a .500
team or better. That's saying a lot with the lack of productivity that the
Twins have provided. They just know how to win games with lesser talent.
Minnesota is 30/1 to win the AL Pennant and 65/1 to win the World Series. Never
write this team off. They're capable of winning 12 straight and they're also
capable of the opposite.
Kansas City Royals
As we reach the cellar of the AL Central, we find the Royals in their expected
place. The Royals are 18 games below .500 and there's not much hope for this
season. I must say this, the Royals have offered more offensively than the
Twins with the trio of Melky Cabrera (11 HR, 52 RBI, .295 BA, 12 SB), Alex
Gordon (11 HR, 50 RBI, .299), and Jeff Francoeur (12 HR, 56 RBI, 15 SB, .263).
This is a running team. The Royals rank number 1 in baseball with 93 stolen
bases. 5 different players have 10 stolen bases or more. Kansas City
ranks 3rd in hits, 2nd in triples, and 4th in batting average. Overall, this is
a solid hitting, multi-talented offensive team. Saying that, there's no
definitive star on the roster.
What do I always say? Good pitching wins ball games
. The Royals simply don't
have good pitching. They're 27th in ERA at 4.59 and there's no pitcher on the
staff with more than 5 wins. There's no need to go down the Royals staff and
list stats. If the Kansas City Royals can acquire a few decent starters, this
is at least a .500 squad. The pitching has has been their downfall this season.
The Royals need to pickup a legitimate star hitter and work on building a solid
pitching staff for next season.