The Tigers, Indians, and Royals have separated themselves from the Twins and White Sox, but which will emerge victorious?
The Thursday Takeaway
Were it not for the wholeheartedly rebuilding Astros, whose record is 36-70 but whose future gets a few watts brighter with every trade, no division would have a greater gap between first and last place than the American League Central, where the Tigers are at the top and the White Sox are at the bottom. That gap has grown wider in recent days, as the Tigers, Indians, and Royals have surged, leaving the Twins and White Sox in their dust.
The top three teams in the Central have won a combined 22 consecutive games—the Tigers five, the Indians eight, and the Royals nine. The bottom two have dropped 11 straight—the Twins four and the White Sox seven. Thus the Tigers are now two up on the Indians, who are 4 ½ up on the Royals, who are nine up on the Twins, who are 5 ½ half up on the White Sox. The gap from first to last is 21 games, exceeded only by the 26 ½-game chasm between the Athletics and Astros, but the margin between the contenders (generously counting the Royals, whose odds of reaching the playoffs are south of five percent) is as large as it is in any division, with the possible exception of the National League East, where the Nationals’ freefall has given the Braves a clear path to October.
Detroit reasserts its dominance in the AL Central.
The Monday Takeaway
Two days before their scheduled return home to welcome the Tigers, the Indians earned a 6-5, series-opening victory over the Royals to move into first place in the American League Central, a perch they had not held since May 23. The Tribe snuck up on a scuffling Tigers squad that had lost six of seven, bouncing all the way back from its own eight-game skid in early June.
Over the last four days, though, Jim Leyland’s club has reasserted its strength, ensuring that the Indians’ stay atop the standings would be a short one. The Tigers won the first two games of the four-game set at Progressive Field, running the home team’s losing streak to four contests and their own winning streak to five. A 9-6 victory on Sunday gave the Indians a chance to salvage a series split on Monday night, which would have left them just 1 ½ games behind first-place Detroit.
Such are the problems when a new ownership group comes in and starts flinging money like there's an endless supply of the green stuff. Drop enough Lincolns and other teams reflexively recoil in fear. It is impossible to deny the intimidation factor that accompanies such brash spending. Opponents feel deflated and stop trying to compete. This is great for the Padres, but think of the poor Dodgers and Giants to the north. What will become of them?
The Phillies could add a bat soon, the Dodgers probably aren't done spending, and information about the lead-up to the Royals-Rays blockbuster is coming to light.
A busy weekend gave way to a lethargic Monday: Apart from the Twins reaching a two-year deal with Kevin Correia, the transactions wire was completely dormant. As we await more action, here’s a glance at two recent developments and a look back at the lead-up to the weekend’s most polarizing trade.
Running through the notable quotes of the week that was.
A-ROD BRACES FOR SURGERY “I am fully committed to a very hard road back. We've done it before in '09 and it was a great result, both on a personal level and on a team level, more importantly. I take it as a great challenge and I'm excited for the challenge.”
—Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who will have surgery on his left hip in January and could be out until the All-Star break. (ESPN.com)
How will a major-league team’s manager affect your fantasy team’s stolen-base totals?
Major League Baseball clubs often pride themselves on being aggressive on the basepaths. While the scope of this article isn’t to examine whether this strategy helps win ballgames, we can say with absolute certainty that being aggressive on the bases is the favored approach among fantasy owners. Stolen bases can be difficult to come by, so finding unexpected sources of steals can make a big difference for a team looking to win a championship.
One way to come across such bargains is to look at players who are changing teams, going from one with a passive organizational philosophy to one with an aggressive philosophy. Lotsofteamsclaimto be aggressive, but as with most things in this game, you can’t always take people at their word or reputation.
How good are the hauls teams received in recent trades?
Each offseason—and occasionally during the season, especially in July—clubs acquire proven big-league players by sending prospects to their tango partners as part of the return. There already have been a handful of such trades since the end of the 2012 season, and there are numerous rumors suggesting more could be in the offing.
The routes the White Sox and Tigers have taken to contention in the AL Central are completely different.
The Indians, if for a fleeting moment last Thursday night, seemed to have seized the type of momentum that might vault them to the top of the American League Central standings. Trailing the visiting Tigers and Justin Verlander, 3-1, in the seventh inning, the Indians struck for four runs, including back-to-back home runs from catcher Carlos Santana and designated hitter Travis Hafner, two players Indians manager Manny Acta said needed to increase their production during his pre-game meeting with the media, and went on to a stunning 5-3 victory.
What do the White Sox, Tigers, and Indians need heading into the deadline, and where might they find it?
With a little less than a month to go until the non-waiver trading deadline, talks between teams are heating up. In a seven-part series, several BP authors will be covering the needs, potential fits, and more for the contenders in each division, as well as a rundown of the top 10 player trade targets. Today, we take a look at the AL Central.