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Terrerobytes: The AL Central stands to tighten up

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Plus: Gordon Beckham could be playing himself out of a job as he plays himself into one, Robin Ventura will be missing, and more

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I have a couple ideas about the White Sox, but since they're off today, I have a full day to poke at the numbers after all systems update in the morning.

In the meantime, here's Torii Hunter removing his clothes after an ejection.

That outburst summarized the Twins' entire series against the Royals. Seeking to bounce back from losing a series at home to the Brewers, they ended up getting swept by Kansas City at Target Field, scoring just three runs in three games.

The Twins are still in good shape, even after losing five of six. They're 33-26, two games back of the Royals and 2½ games ahead of Detroit. But since they're trying to outrun a regression in scoring luck, each one of these sustained downturns represents the reality the Twins want to avoid.

That concern is legitimate. Over at FanGraphs, Jeff Sullivan tried to figure out whether the backwards AL standings were here to stay, using the last 10 years of data.

The good news for the Twins? There is a clearly positive correlation between the winning percentage by June 7, and the winning percentage afterward.

The bad news? There's a stronger correlation between the winning percentage after June 7 and the preseason projections.

The point being: if you’re trying to figure out how a team is going to do over the rest of the year, you’re better off looking at the projections than you are looking at win/loss record. You’re better off looking at the preseason projections than you are looking at win/loss record, even though those projections are missing sometimes important data. Of course, the best plan would be to blend performance and projections, but the projections are king, here. For the sake of providing recent examples, this is why I don’t think the Twins have disproven anything. This is why it’s too soon to give up on the Mariners and Red Sox. If, in March, you had a given opinion of a team, then that opinion shouldn’t be too different in early June. (Provided the opinion was statistically sound.)

This doesn't mean much for the White Sox, who, even after sweeping the Astros, are pretty much right in line with the course charted for them by projections (.500, more or less). But should that force hold for the division, it ultimately works out in the Sox' favor, since neither the Royals nor Twins received positive projections before the season. It just means we still have to keep an eye on the Indians, who slipped back into the AL Central cellar with a third straight loss on Wednesday.

And for the Astros, the sweep at the hands of the White Sox puts them in the same position of the Twins. Nobody can say this is the beginning of the end for them, but the page has been dogeared, just in case.

Terrerobytes

Speaking of the beginning of the end, Gordon Beckham has started 10 of the White Sox' last 11 games. He's also hitless in his last 16 at-bats, dragging his line down to .241/.303/.361. I have a hunch these things are connected.

We've seen Robin Ventura miss time for a daughter's graduation before, so Mark Parent managing isn't new. However, he's getting Vance Law as his bench coach, which is.

Even using Grant Brisbee's formula to select an All-Star ballot, the White Sox aren't represented among position players.

While the Tigers get Justin Verlander back on Saturday, it isn't quite the luxury Detroit hoped, because regression has whupped Shane Greene good. After allowing one earned run over his first 23 innings, he's posted an 8.60 ERA over his last 10 starts, including a three-inning outing against the Cubs on Wednesday.

As frustrating as the White Sox are, they could be the Mariners, who are playing worse despite loftier expectations. Moreover, their mysteriously awful season is coming from the worst possible source.

  • Melky Cabrera: .230/.271/.265
  • Robinson Cano: .238/.279/.325

Cano has a clear edge, especially when bringing ballparks into the equation. Then you look at the remainder of their contracts after this season:

  • Cabrera: Two years, $29 million.
  • Cano: Eight years, $192 million.

And that's my attempt to make you feel better about Cabrera's season, in which any decent game is cause for celebration.