Since Cleveland decided to cancel back-to-back games against the Chicago White Sox and leave us bored, I thought that it would be fun to look at our competition in the American League Central and how each team is performing so far.
Chicago White Sox (6-3)
Look, our last game didn’t go as planned, but it is also important to understand that the team has won their first three series of the season, all against good teams. It’s safe to say the South Siders are living up to their standards, but what will be important is keeping it up.
The main surprise so far has been the pitching. Other than Sunday, the starting rotation has been doing better than expected given the injuries to Lance Lynn and Lucas Giolito. Dylan Cease and Michael Kopech have had great starts to the season. Liam Hendriks has improved the last few games, and the bullpen has done a great job at saving close games.
The next step will be getting the offense more consistent. Everyone knows the power this lineup holds, and although there are injuries still it would be nice to see some higher-scoring games. Andrew Vaughn and Tim Anderson have had good starts to the season, while Luis Robert and José Abreu are still getting there. In their third game of the season, the team scored 10 runs against the Detroit Tigers, but in their last four games they have scored 10 runs combined.
Way Too Early MVP: Cease, currently 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA. He has 16 strikeouts in those two appearances, in just 10 2⁄3 innings pitched. If he can keep his control up and pitch how he has been this season, the rotation will be even more dangerous as everyone starts to get healthy again.
Cleveland Guardians (4-5)
The Guardians are going into the new season fresh, and are never someone to count out in the division. Although they didn’t necessarily make any groundbreaking moves in the offseason, they are a decent team with a fully healthy rotation. Their pitching talent ranges from Shane Bieber to Zach Plesac to Aaron Civale.
Cleveland just got swept at home against the San Fransisco Giants, and their offense is their main weak spot right now. You never know what can happen, and somehow we seem to have some curse playing at Progressive Field, but hopefully they don’t give us a run for our money this year.
Way Too Early MVP: José Ramírez. Who else but the South Side killer, who just got a major contract extension? Ramírez was recently named the AL Player of the Week, going .565 with 14 RBIs. He also just recorded his 1,000th career hit, which solidifies his MVP spot.
Detroit Tigers (4-5)
Even though Tigers fans thought they were going to win the World Series after their walk-off win on Opening Day, it is important to remember that they are still going through a rebuild. Still, they are looking to be a decent team this year and threat in the future. After adding Javy Baéz and Austin Meadows in the offseason and top prospect Spencer Torkelson making his debut with the team, their offense has potential to score some runs. Detroit’s bullpen and starting rotation isn’t anything special just yet, but they are going to be a fun team to watch and may give us some trouble within the next few years.
Way Too Early MVP: Spencer Torkelson. Luckily for us, the #1 overall 2020 pick actually had a pretty terrible series to start the season, but it was just a matter of time before he broke out. He leads the team with two home runs and five RBI, and has a .240 BA even after a bad start. It is going to be exciting to see the young slugger develop, as long as he does most of that developing against other teams but the White Sox.
Minnesota Twins (4-6): The Twins single handedly shocked the entire league with their signing of Carlos Correa right before the season starts. A few fans may have even gone into a panic. Although they have stars like Byron Buxton and Correa, it is important to remember that their starting rotation and bullpen still lacks depth. After losing Alex Colomé as their closer in the offseason and Sonny Gray going on the IL last week, they must rely on their offense to produce runs. They recently split a four game series against the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park, and their schedule hasn’t been too easy going so far. We will see how far they can go in the division, but we can never count them out completely.
Way Too Early MVP: Dylan Bundy has led the rotation this year, and it is important to have at least one consistent arm in a team that lacks pitching. He is 2-0 so far, with a 0.87 ERA and 0.68 WHIP. He had great performances against both the Mariners and Red Sox.
Kansas City Royals (3-5)
The Royals haven’t changed much from last year, and still look to be a fourth or fifth place team in the division. K.C. is excited about the return of Salvador Pérez after a great season last year, as well as the addition of the No. 2 pick in the 2019 draft, Bobby Witt Jr. Witt brings a spark to the team, and joins Whit Merrifield, Andrew Benintendi, and Pérez as exciting players to watch in the lineup. It doesn’t look like the Royals will be much of a threat this year but hey, you never know.
Way Too Early MVP: Benintendi has gotten off to a hot start offensively, leading the team with a .357 BA. He also has one home run with four RBIs, and has 10 hits.
Overall, my pick to win the division is still easily the White Sox. The talent in every different aspect of the team stands out, and we have seen that already with many players making big contributions, including guys who weren’t even on the radar a few weeks ago, like Reese McGuire and Tanner Banks. Hopefully, we will get baseball back on our screens today with two games, and a whole day full of baseball against the Guardians!