With the best team in the American League Central Division having just the sixth-best mark among AL teams at the All-Star break, it is easy to overlook the teams in the AL Central. However, this is shaking up to be the most compelling of the pennant races in the AL.
Minnesota currently leads Cleveland by two games and preseason division favorite Chicago by three games. This is the only division in the American League with two teams (Minnesota and Chicago) with winning road records. It is also the only division in the American League yet to make a managerial change this season.
Keep on reading for a breakdown on how the AL Central teams fared in the first half of the season.
Minnesota is starting to come back to the pack in the AL Central. The Twins are 12-15 over the last 27 games with a team ERA of 4.23.
Luis Arraez is vying for the AL batting lead with a .338 average. Byron Buxton leads the Twins with 23 home runs, although his .216 average is a huge drop from last year’s .306 mark. Staying healthy has been an issue for Buxton so seeing him play 73 games is a good sign. His reward is a starting assignment in the MLB All-Star Game.
Buck’s All-Star Status: Starter!
— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) July 17, 2022
Carlos Correa was a huge offseason signing and more was anticipated from home than 24 extra-base hits in 70 games. The Twins are fourth in the American League with a .252 team batting average and tied for fourth with 117 home runs.
Chris Archer and Sonny Gray are also failing to live up to expectations in the first half. They have a combined 6-7 record with four quality starts between them. Rookie Joe Ryan (6-3, 2.99 ERA) has been the most consistent starting pitcher while Jhoan Duran has been a key contributor in the bullpen.
The odds to win the division started at +550 and have moved to -105, with the World Series odds jumping from +6600 to +4000. Minnesota stumbled into the All-Star break, going 3-7 in the last 10 games and covering just three times during that stretch.
- GRADE: A
The Cleveland Guardians are the surprise team in the division. Jose Ramirez started the season with the sixth-best odds in the AL MVP race and he is currently still sixth according to the MLB betting lines, even if his odds moved from +2000 to +3300. With a .288 average, 30 doubles and 19 home runs, Ramirez probably should be a little high in the MVP pecking order.
Infielders Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez, acquired in the trade for Francisco Lindor, are both hitting close to .300.
Starting pitchers Shane Bieber, Triston McKenzie and Cal Quantrill all have ERAs under 4.00 while Emmanuel Clase (1.41 ERA, 19 saves) has been almost automatic as the Guardians’ closer.
The odds to win the division began at +900 and have been cut in half to +450, even if the World Series odds have jumped up to +10000 according to the MLB playoff odds.
- GRADE: A
Chicago White Sox
With all the talent on the Chicago roster, it is not surprising that the White Sox were favored at -200 to win the division going into the season. The odds are now at +145, although the World Series odds have moved from +1100 to +4000.
It hasn’t been the best first half for the White Sox, but Chicago (46-46) is just three games out of first place.
Andrew Vaughn, Jose Abreu, Luis Robert and Tim Anderson are all hitting over .300.
Lucas Giolito has struggled a bit after coming into the season with the fourth-best odds to win the AL Cy Young Award. Dylan Cease (9-4, 150 strikeouts, 2.15 ERA) remains fifth in the Cy Young race with the same odds (+1200) he had when the season began.
The White Sox won five of their last six games heading into the All-Star break to pull a little closer to the two teams ahead of them in the division standings. Although Chicago is in third place in the division, the White Sox have the highest expected regular-season win total (86½) of the AL Central squads. That number is down from the mark of 91½ when the season began.
- GRADE: C
One of these years all the high draft picks made by the Detroit Tigers will start to pay off. With former No. 1 overall pick Casey Mize limited to 10 innings and another No. 1 overall pick, Spencer Torkelson, hitting only .197, this is not the year for that to happen.
Matt Manning, a promising 24-year-old pitcher, hasn’t made an appearance since April due to injury. One of the top prospects (outfielder Riley Greene) has six extra-base hits among his last 17 hits.
Catcher Eric Haase is batting .333 in the month of July. Among the regulars, future Hall of Fame Miguel Cabrera leads the Tigers with a .287 batting average. That would be his best mark since 2018.
The Tigers are last in the majors with 53 home runs and only two American League teams have worse ERAs than Detroit, so there is work yet to be done.
The odds to win the division are all the way up to +50000 and the World Series odds are at +100000 for the Tigers (37-55), who are 12 games out of the division lead.
The Tigers have covered in 13 of the last 23 games that finished under the total.
- GRADE: C
Kansas City Royals
Kansas City headed into the All-Star break on a three-game losing streak, but the Royals are battling Detroit for fourth place in the division. The odds to win the division have dropped to +50000 with the World Series odds moving to +200000.
The MLB predictions had Bobby Witt Jr. as a front-runner in the Rookie of the Year race, and with 36 extra-base hits and 17 stolen bases, he is still one of the top contenders. Catcher Salvador Perez is the only other Kansas City player with more than 10 home runs.
Brady Singer is the only starting pitcher with a winning record as the Royals have the highest team ERA in the American League. While wins might be hard to come by for the 36-56 Royals, Kansas City has covered in 12 of its last 19 games.
- GRADE: C+