It’s the All-Star Break and time to grade teams based on their preseason expectations. Let’s take a look at each team in the American League Central and see whether they will have a strong or weak second-half of the season. Make sure to check out the best lines available at the BetUS online sportsbook.
The Chicago White Sox were the preseason pick to win the AL Central, but they were expected to have some competition. Chicago has been as good as expected, but the rest of the division has struggled to keep pace. Baseball can change at the drop of a hat, so let’s dive in and project each one.
Chicago White Sox
- 2021 Expected Wins: 90.5
- Record (as of July 12): 53-35
It was no surprise that the Chicago White Sox were the preseason favorite to win the AL Central as they have been acquiring talent. Things actually haven’t gone smoothly for the White Sox, but they still enter the All-Star Break with a nice division lead.
Young superstars Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert went down early in the season with injuries, and the White Sox continue to be without some of their regular starters. The offense has still produced, but it hasn’t been as great as it could have been.
Jose Abreu leads Chicago with 15 home runs and 66 RBIs and he continues to be a force in the middle of the lineup. Tim Anderson sets the table with a .309 batting average and he has improved as the season has gone along.
The real strength of the White Sox has been the pitching staff, especially the starting rotation. The bullpen has been dominant as predicted, but the White Sox continue to get great starting pitching.
Lance Lynn is 9-3 with a 1.99 ERA and his presence has really transformed the rotation. Carlos Rodon is 7-3 and he has been dominant for long stretches .
Liam Hendricks has been as good as advertised in the closing role and the rest of the bullpen continues to pitch well. The AL Central has some below-average offensive teams and that has helped to boost the overall numbers.
With the White Sox set to get some of their injured players back soon, this team should continue to increase their division lead. Chicago is now on pace for 97.6 wins based on its current record.
It seems pretty clear that the White Sox will fly by their regular-season win total of 90.5 on their way to an AL Central title.
- 2021 Expected Wins: 88.5
- Record (as of July 12): 38-50
It’s hard to put into words how disappointing the season has been for the Minnesota Twins and a number of the players on the roster. Minnesota was supposed to challenge the White Sox in the division, but things fell apart early in the season.
Minnesota has suffered some injuries along the way, but not enough to use that as an excuse. All areas of this team have struggled for much of the season and it doesn’t seem like the Twins have any answers coming.
The Twins are nearly top-10 in baseball in total runs, but they have done a lot of that damage over the last two weeks. Nelson Cruz leads the team with 18 home runs and 46 RBIs and has been the one consistent performer.
Cruz is also a player that will likely be shipped out at the trade deadline and that is going to leave a massive hole in the lineup. There are some other players with power on this roster, but not enough to scare opposing teams.
Pitching has really been a problem for the Twins, who have a team ERA of 4.98. Starting pitching has let the team down and the bullpen hasn’t been much better.
Minnesota did end the first half by winning four straight games, but they are still projected to win just 70 games, it’s pretty safe to assume that the Twins are not going to come anywhere close to the 88.5 regular season expected wins.
- 2021 Expected Wins: 81.5
- Record (as of July 12): 45-42
The Cleveland Indians had a very interesting first half but it ended with them sitting just three games over the .500 mark. Cleveland looked like a real threat to the Chicago White Sox early in the season, but they faded a bit in the month of July.
Not much was expected of the Indians, especially after trading away Francisco Lindor. The Indians were supposed to be going through a bit of a rebuild, but they had enough players performing well to keep them in the race.
Starting pitching was keeping the Indians in the race before the injury bug started to hit them hard. When both Shane Bieber and Aaron Civale went down with an injury at the same time, it really hurt the chances of Cleveland.
The team has a 4.42 ERA, but that number was much lower before their rough start to July. That number should go down again once Bieber and Civale are back on the mound.
Lack of offense has been the biggest problem with this team, even though this team does have some power in the lineup. Cleveland has a batting average of just .229 but it is right at the league average when it comes to slugging percentage.
Jose Ramirez is hitting .260 and leads the team with 19 home runs and 52 RBIs. Cleveland is missing a table-setter at the top of the lineup and that has really held the team back.
The Indians are now projected to win 83.8 games, which is very close to their regular-season total. That number seems to be pretty spot-on, and it is going to come down to the final week of the season.
With Bieber and Civale back for the final months, look for the Indians to go just past the regular-season win total by winning 84 games.
Kansas City Royals
- 2021 Expected Wins: 73.5
- Record (as of July 12): 36-53
The Kansas City Royals looked like a team ready to turn things around in the preseason, and the first month was going well. Kansas City spent much of April in first place in the AL Central, but things started to fall apart in a hurry.
The Royals enter the All-Star Break with a record of 36-53 and they are not going to factor in the playoff race. The Royals have not been willing to part with many of their top players in the past, but that could change at the trade deadline.
Veteran catcher Salvador Perez is having a terrific season. Perez leads the Royals with 21 home runs and 53 RBIs and he participated in the Home Run Derby.
Kansas City has scored just 364 runs and its on-base percentage is really low. There is some power in the lineup, but the team has been too inconsistent to be a true threat in the American League.
Pitching continues to be a problem for the Royals and finding some answers in the starting rotation will be a goal. Kansas City has a team ERA of 5.15 and that won’t work against some powerful offensive teams in the division.
With the current record, the Royals are now projected to win just 65.5 games, which is well below the expected number of regular season victories. The Royals should be a better team after the All-Star break, but they aren’t going to get anywhere close to 73.5 wins.
- 2021 Expected Wins: 68.5
- Record (as of July 12): 40-50
The Detroit Tigers are not having a great year, but it has actually been better than what they were projected to have. Detroit is not going to factor in the division or pennant race, but the Tigers have given some of the top teams some issues.
The pitching staff of Detroit could use some work as the Tigers have a team ERA of 4.74. Detroit has been trying out some new young pitchers in the rotation and that has caused those numbers to be a bit inflated.
Detroit is not going to overwhelm anyone with its offensive lineup, but this team is right around league average in most categories. There are some players to build around on the roster and the future does look promising.
Jonathan Schoop leads the Tigers with a .277 batting average to go along with 16 home runs and 52 RBIs. Akil Badoo burst onto the scene earlier this season and looks to be one of the top young hitters in baseball.
Casey Mize has racked up five wins as a starter and he also sports a very respectable 3.59 ERA. Tarik Skubal has punched out 105 batters, and these two pitchers should be a piece of this rotation for years to come.
With their record sitting at 40-51, the Tigers are now projected to win 72 games. This does seem like it could happen, but Detroit is also likely to be pretty active at the trade deadline.
You can expect to see plenty of turnover of this roster in the next few weeks, and that is going to hurt the chances moving forward. Detroit is going to come up just a win or two shy of the expected win total.