Baseball is in the home stretch with just over 40 games left in the season. In what might be the least competitive of all the divisions, let’s take a look at how the American League Central currently stacks up.
The Chicago White Sox are the current leaders of the division and are the only team in the majors who hold a double-digit lead. While no team is officially knocked out, BetUS currently does not have odds posted for other teams in the division, given where they stand.
Check out BetUS to see the odds for all of the divisions.
Chicago White Sox (68-50)
After a historic “Field of Dreams” win over the New York Yankees, fans around the country got a glimpse of the caliber of the Chicago White Sox.
There aren’t too many weaknesses for this Chicago team. They rank first in K/9 (10.36), fifth in scoring defense (3.88 runs), seventh in ERA (3.65), seventh in runs per game (4.97) and fourth in on-base percentage (.331).
On the pitching side, the team has a dominant rotation led by Lance Lynn (10-3, 2.26 ERA), Lucas Giolito (9-9, 3.83 ERA), Carlos Rodon (9-5, 2.38 ERA) and Dylan Cease (9-6, 4.04 ERA). While Rodon is currently on the injured list with a fatigued arm, this is a rotation built for the postseason.
According to BetUS, the White Sox have three pitchers in the hunt for the AL Cy Young as Lance Lynn (-250), Carlos Rodon (+650), and Lucas Giolito (+6600) all are in the top 10 in terms of best odds to win the award.
Their bullpen is equally as dominant. The White Sox’s biggest acquisition at the trade deadline was bringing in reliever Craig Kimbrel to pair with Liam Hendricks. With the likes of Michael Kopech, Aaron Bummer and Garret Crochet also in the bullpen, it is tough to score runs on the White Sox late.
Offensively, the team is led by reigning AL MVP Jose Abreu. He currently leads the team in home runs (24) and RBIs (86).
While not acquired via trade, Chicago has also gotten a boost offensively by the returns of outfielders Eloy Jimenez (torn pectoral muscle) and Luis Robert (hip). Since returning, Jimenez is hitting .370 with five home runs in 12 games while Robert is hitting .300 with one home run in five games.
While the White Sox currently have the 13th-toughest remaining schedule, they are expected to sail to a division title and are +550 to win the World Series this year.
It was expected that the White Sox would challenge for the AL Central this season, but no one anticipated they would run away with it like this.
White Sox Homestretch Grade: A+
Cleveland Indians (57-59)
There are 10 games behind both the White Sox and the second Wild Card spot, and things aren’t looking overly optimistic for the Indians. They are currently +30000 to win the World Series this year.
The biggest issue for Cleveland has been injuries. Shane Bieber, Aaron Civale and Zach Plesac all spent time on the injured list, and Bieber and Civale have yet to come off. This has led to the pitching staff being ranked 21st in the majors in ERA (4.57).
Their offense has also been mediocre at best. Jose Ramirez has been solid as he leads the team in home runs (26), RBIs (72), runs scored (75) and stolen bases (14), but there isn’t a whole lot of depth behind him. The team currently ranks 19th in scoring, averaging 4.30 runs per game.
They moved one of their better hitters in second baseman Cesar Hernandez to the division-leading White Sox at the trade deadline. He had 18 home runs and 47 RBIs prior to the trade.
The Indians were expected to come in third place in the division, so they are not too far off of that prediction, but with a healthy pitching staff, it would be interesting to see what they might have done.
They do have the fourth-easiest remaining schedule as their opponents have a combined .480 winning percentage. Still, it would be a stretch to think they could make a run to the postseason.
Indians’ Homestretch Grade: C-
Detroit Tigers (58-62)
While their overall record may be subpar, this has actually been a successful season for the Detroit Tigers. Many had Detroit pegged for the AL Central cellar, but new manager A.J. Hinch has truly gotten the most out of his group.
In fact, after starting the season 8-19, the Tigers had a winning record in May (14-13) and June (14-13) and finished .500 in July (14-14). While that may not be overwhelmingly exciting for a contending team, that is huge for a rebuilding team.
They sit 11 games behind the White Sox in the division and 11 games back for the second Wild Card, which means a postseason appearance is unlikely. Currently, they are +50000 to win the World Series, according to BetUS.
Offensively, the team has to be thrilled by the emergence of rookie Akil Baddoo. The 23-year-old is hitting .267/.333/.467 with 10 home runs, 45 RBIs, 44 runs scored and 14 stolen bases. He is exactly the type of player a team can build around.
On the pitching side, the Tigers have seen growth out of both Casey Mize (6-6, 3.66 ERA) and Tarik Skubal (8-10, 4.10 ERA).
Again, the Tigers won’t be contending for the playoffs, but they are right on track with their rebuild. In fact, Evan Petzold of the Detroit Free Press reported, “As the Tigers commit to adding prized players, Ilitch (the owner) believes those acquisitions could occur as soon as free agency this offseason.”
Adding the right free agents to this core may make them division contenders in the years to come.
Tigers’ Homestretch Grade: C-
Minnesota Twins (52-66)
By far, the biggest disappointment of the AL Central are the Minnesota Twins. After winning the division last season, the Twins sit in fourth, 16 games back of the Chicago.
Their struggles led them to sell off a few of their best players at the trade deadline in slugger Nelson Cruz (Rays), ace Jose Berrios (Blue Jays) and starter J.A. Happ (Cardinals). While they did get some decent prospects back, including Austin Martin from the Blue Jays, this was still not what any Minnesota fan expected at the beginning of the season.
Their offense has still been competent as they rank 12th in scoring, averaging 4.62 runs per game, but their defense has been brutal. They currently rank 28th in scoring defense, allowing opponents an average of 5.26 runs per game.
Offensively, the Twins’ best remaining hitter is Jorge Polanco. He is leading the team in home runs (21), RBIs (63) and runs scored (71) while hitting .267/.332/.482.
Kenta Maeda is their best starter on the pitching side, but even he is just 6-4 with a 4.41 ERA and 1.30 WHIP.
They have the 10th-toughest remaining schedule and, to make matters worse, their opponents have a combined .510 winning percentage.
Twins’ Homestretch Grade: F
Kansas City Royals (49-67)
Through the month of April, the Kansas City Royals were one of the hottest teams in the division with a 15-9 record. Unfortunately for Royals’ fans, since then, they are a lowly 34-58.
They are under .500 at home (29-30), but they are especially brutal on the road (20-37). Their record puts them 18 games behind the White Sox for the division lead.
Kansas City sits in the bottom third in both runs per game (25th with just 4.10) and scoring defense (26th at 5.01 runs allowed).
The best hitter for the Royals has been All-Star catcher Salvador Perez. He is hitting .277/.310/.521 and leads the team in home runs (30) and RBIs (75).
Mike Minor has the most wins for their starting rotation, but he is just 8-11 with a 5.35 ERA.
At the trade deadline, the Royals moved two players as they continue to rebuild. They traded left-hander Danny Duffy to the Los Angeles Dodgers and outfielder Jorge Soler to the Atlanta Braves.
Kansas City has the 14th-toughest remaining schedule, but it may not matter with how far they sit behind the rest of the pack.