Vol. 1: AL Central Weekly Wrap-Up
Here at Baseball Hot Corner some of the writers are starting a new weekly series, a wrap up of the state of each division. Each writer will nominate a position player of the week, pitcher of the week, team-by-team recaps and power rankings for their chosen division.
This is the first edition of the AL Central Weekly Wrap-Up which you will be able to find here on BHC every Monday throughout the entire season. Play ball!
In recent years the AL Central has been the playground for the mighty Detroit Tigers. While that may remain true, it was the rival Kansas City Royals stealing the conference thunder by snatching the Wild Card and riding it to one game short of a world championship. Despite some roster adjustments, not much has changed over the winter as those two came strong in Week 1. The Chicago White Sox, looking to meet pre-season expectations found the early going rough facing those Royals, then staying in the division and hosting the Minnesota Twins. The almost, but-not-really forgotten Cleveland Indians didn’t get the start they were hoping for, but Terry Francona will have his young Tribe in the mix as the season unwinds. A little too early to start crowning champs, so lets start off with Week 1!
Chicago White Sox
The White Sox would have liked to have made a better impression on those who are ready to anoint them championship contenders in Week 1. I, for one, believe they will be there in the end, but as for the beginning… well, they will have to learn to beat the Royals. Baby steps. With Chris Sale missing his first start with his foot injury, it was up to Jeff Samardzija to get the party started for Chicago. KC had better ideas and handed the tall righty his first loss 10-1. The Sox bats loosened up in Game 2 and they were in position for a win, but a late homer by Lorenzo Cain let it slip away. That made the Day 3 loss even tougher as they could only muster four hits en route to defeat. It may have seemed time to “jump the shark” after losing to Minnesota in a battle of 0-and-three’s to start the series, but Chicago fought for the first win and got it in Game 2. That set the stage for the return of Sale and the lanky southpaw didn’t miss a beat from early spring and gave his team a second win.
The Tribe has a potentially dangerous starting rotation this season. Beginning with ace Corey Kluber, Cleveland marches out two or three of the best young arms in the AL. Kluber took a loss in Game 1 against the Houston Astros, but Carlos Carrasco helped the Tribe bounce back with 10 K performance to put them in the win column in the second contest. Trevor Bauer led a surprising team no-hitter to take the series in the finale, which also flashed the strength of the bullpen. A single hit in the ninth ruined the day for reliever Nick Hagadone, but Cleveland got the win. It wasn’t until Detroit rolled into town that Cleveland saw how tough its own division will be this summer. The Tigers beat up the Tribe and swept them in three games that saw plenty of runners cross the plate.
Detroit has probably the best hitter in all of baseball, OK? Keep a solid foundation around him and you will be a consistent winner. For all the doubters pre-predicting the slow crumbling of the Tigers, well, this 6-0 is for you. Detroit did not go easy on the Twins when they came to the Motorcity to open the campaign. Ace lefty David Price nearly pulled off a complete game shutout in the opener and “vice-ace” Anibal Sanchez backed that up on day two earning the win. Shane Green finished off the Twinkees in game 3 and they left town with a single run to their credit. And while the pitching staff in Detroit was mowing down Minnesota hitters, the Tiger bats were finding dominance on their own. Led by Miguel Cabrera, of course, this is a potent line-up top to bottom and many got in on the act that continued into Cleveland. The Indians weren’t the easy prey that the Twins turned out to be, but Detroit still managed to get a sweep.
Kansas City Royals
If they passed out trophies after only one week into the season, the Royals would have taken the “I Told You So” statue. We all loved and welcomed the Kansas City wave that took us on a magical ride to the Fall Classic last season. But let’s be honest. Most of us thought it was simply a feel good underdog story for MLB. Everybody but the Royals, that is. KC jumped on the new look White Sox in a 10-1 win on Opening Day and did not look back. They swept the Sox then jumped on a plane for LA and treated the Los Angeles Angels the same way. Lorenzo Cain, Salvador Perez and Kendrys Morales have been catalysts for the Royals in their first week combining for 30 hits—10 each and recording 18 RBI. So far no sign of missing the departed James Shields. All six starting pitchers in Week 1 came out victorious for KC. This is pretty telling early on considering the team’s undefeated record, especially if the Royals remain a hot team offensively throughout.
It will a long season for the rebuilding Twins. The first week was proof of that. Minnesota managed a single victory during the week, a 6-0 pitching gem from new Twin Tommy Milone. There is plenty of promising youth on the Minnesota roster, mixed in with a few veteran favorites such as Joe Mauer and Torii Hunter, but as far as competing for the division, well, that will more than likely have to wait. New manager Paul Molitor will teach his players the right way to play the game and despite playing in a tough division will come to play every night. Just don’t expect a lot of wins outside of the moral victory column.
Position Player of the Week: Miguel Cabrera- .520 BA, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 4 R
Pitcher of the Week: David Price- 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 11 K
- Kansas City Royals 6-0
- Detroit Tigers 6-0
- Chicago White Sox 2-4
- Cleveland Indians 2-4
- Minnesota Twins 1-6
Don’t forget to check back every Monday for updates on your favorite division!
The BHC writers will bring you a summary of EVERY division each week!