Team Grades: American League Central

John Lepore | July 11th, 2019

We are giving our team evaluations at the All-Star break. Here is the AL Central and how they have gotten to where they are and where they are going the rest of the season.

Minnesota Twins, 1st Place, 56-33, 5.5 Games Up

Positives: The Twins calling card has been power this year. They have hit a major-league-leading 166 home runs this season and have a team OPS of .833. They have a +116 run differential and 10 players with 10+ HRs this season. Nelson Cruz, C.J. Cron, and Jonathan Schoop have been great pickups with a combined 47 HRs and 52 doubles. The young guys in the lineup who the Twins signed to extensions before the season, Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco, have been equally dominant with an .882 and an .860 OPS respectively.

Negatives: Not really much here but the starting staff has shown a few chinks in the armor. After a hot start, Martin Perez has been regressing lately pushing his ERA from 2.83 on May 6th to a 4.26 currently. Jake Odorizzi has also been coming back down to earth raising his ERA from 1.92 a month ago up to a 3.15 currently. He is hurt now but should be back after the All-Star break.

Team MVP: Jorge Polanco. He is third in the AL in bWAR (4.2) for position players behind Mike Trout and Matt Chapman (5.9 and 4.3 respectively). He plays a premium position and has truly started coming into his own at only 26 years old.

Trade Deadline Moves: They need another starter or two. The Twins are in a good position because they have a deep farm system. Although they aren’t likely to move top prospects like Royce Lewis or Alex Kiriloff, they can package enough good players to be able to obtain a difference-maker.

Grade: A

Cleveland Indians, 2nd Place, 50-38, 5.5 Games Out

Positives: The fact that the Indians are 12 games over .500 after the depletion of their vaunted pitching staff is pretty amazing. Losing Mike Clevinger, Corey Kluber, and Carlos Carrasco should’ve brought this team down especially when starting pitching was a major strength that was going to carry them this season. They got a healthy Francisco Lindor back who picked up where he left off as the best shortstop in baseball and Carlos Santana has sipped from the fountain of youth with his return this season to Cleveland.

Negatives: The Indians have a few bats, but they are still in the bottom half of most offensive categories, including HRs, runs, and OPS. Although Oscar Mercado and Jordan Luplow have picked up some slack, Jose Ramirez is a disaster this year. Outside of Santana and Lindor, the rest of the lineup doesn’t compare to the big boys in the AL.

Team MVP: Carlos Santana easily. He has been their most productive hitter by far since the beginning of the season. He has a .958 OPS, more walks than Ks (64/56), and leads the team by a wide margin in HRs, RBI, and runs.

Trade Deadline Moves: The rumors have swirled since before the season of the Indians trading Kluber and/or Bauer. The fact that they sit at 50 wins and only 5.5 games out of the division makes selling unlikely. Buying also seems unlikely as they will not take on any big contracts and don’t have the kind of studs in the farm system that some other contenders do.

Grade: B

Chicago White Sox, 3rd Place, 42-44, 12.5 Games Out

Positives: The White Sox definitely have some promising players that seem to be stepping up and giving this rebuild some hope. Lucas Giolito has become the classic post-hype prospect and is putting together a great season and is firmly in the top 5 for the AL Cy Young Award. Yoan Moncada is still hitting over .300 (.308) and Jose Abreu is doing what he does with 21 HRs and 66 RBI. It will not be this year, but the Sox look like the rebuild is heading in the right direction.

Negatives: Aside from the aforementioned players the rest of the team has been anywhere from horrible to meh. Their team ERA is 5.03 and that is despite Giolito, Colome, and Brummer combining for a 2.66 ERA. They are third to last in HRs and runs and also dead last in the AL in walks.

Team MVP: Lucas Giolito. He will be 25 years old next week and the light bulb finally came on this season. Tall pitchers tend to take longer to develop command and at 6’6, Giolito has shown that is the case. He seems to have figured out his mechanics and should be a workhorse for years to come.

Trade Deadline Moves: Not really anything to see here. The rebuild is showing signs of working and the White Sox have never been too shy of spending. Along with the players they got in deals for Adam Eaton and Chris Sale, another year or two and a nice signing here and there and the Sox are poised to make a run as soon as next year.

Grade: C+

Kansas City Royals, 4th Place, 30-61, 27 Games Out

Positives: Hunter Dozier has been a find with an .899 OPS and Whit is doing Whit things of course. They were supposed to be an exciting team and with 84 SBs which leads the AL is certainly moving the needle, but that’s about it.

Negatives: The pitching is simply bad. They are bottom three in ERA, Saves, Walks, and Ks. That is simply where the problem starts. And honestly ends. They are just bad.

Team MVP: Whit Merrifield and it’s not close. With 11 HRs and 13 SBs, he has been everything the Royals wanted when they extended him this year. He is versatile and a very good hitter.

Trade Deadline Moves: This is where they move their best player. He is 30 years old and is definitely on a team-friendly deal for a little over $4 million a year. He could fetch at least a decent haul for the rebuild.

Grade: D

Detroit Tigers, 5th Place, 28-57, 26 Games Out

Positives: Miggy and Boyd. That’s about it. Miggy is hitting over .300 and Matthew Boyd has a 142/20 K/BB rate in 107 innings. This is what the Tigers have to build on. It is just not good for the Tigers and it doesn’t look like it will be for a couple years.

Negatives: Just about everything. They have one pitcher and their best hitter is 36 years old. They have some studs coming as far as the pitching goes in Casey Mize and Dane Dunning but it will be a few years before they both make an impact.

Team MVP: Matt Boyd has been their best pitcher and is being talked about as trade bait. The Tigers have a bright future with pitching and Boyd may be in their plans especially with his insane K rate and the progression he has shown this season.

Trade Deadline Moves: Possibly Matt Boyd, as mentioned, but it would take a huge haul to get a pitcher hitting his prime at 28 with a limited amount of innings on his arm.

Grade: D

Midseason Grades | AL East | AL West | NL East | NL Central | NL West

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