July 13, 2017
This is Really All We Know: The Centrals
You can see the equivalent piece on the teams of the two East divisions for the details of this shtick. The gist is that we’re breaking down each team at the All-Star break, using only one word per game played to this point. It’s an exercise in humility, in understanding how little a single half of a season really tells us. Today, the 10 teams in the two Central divisions get their turn.
Chicago Cubs (43-45)
They’re a wildly talented team having a very strange season. They’ve allowed a ton of runs in the first inning. Their defensive deficiency was an early storyline, but they now rank fourth in both raw and park-adjusted defensive efficiency. Their starting pitchers badly need that kind of support, but also more (and earlier) offensive help. It’s hard to believe Kyle Schwarber and Addison Russell have lost so much since last fall. Ben Zobrist’s age is showing. Ian Happ is both a key cog and a potential trade chip.
Chicago White Sox (38-49)
Avisail Garcia’s better physique and plate adjustments only transformed him into Miguel Cabrera for about a month. He’s himself again. That brief outburst was a reminder, though, that a long track record doesn’t preclude a sudden, radical, and protracted departure from an established performance standard. The universe, wishing to cruelly hammer this point home for Jerry Reinsdorf and company, has also made Jose Quintana stink this year. The White Sox need Tim Anderson’s plate discipline to improve, but his track record as a hacker already feels inescapable.
Cincinnati Reds (39-49)