Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Muddy American League Central

The only thing we know for sure about the American League Central is that the wildcard will not come from that division. The word, "Central," means in the middle and all three contenders in that division are certainly living up to that name. The Twins at .500 and the leading Tigers and White Sox are only five games above that mark. All three have their limitations and their problems. So who is going to win the darn thing? The heck if this writer has any idea. Let's look first at some rankings of each team in certain categories among the 14 American League teams:

Batting Average: Tigers (11), White Sox (9), Twins (5). Edge Twins.
OBP: Tigers (10), White Sox (8), Twins (6). Edge Twins.
Slugging: Tigers (11), White Sox (9), Twins (8). Slight edge, Twins.

The Tigers are not hitting well, obviously. The White Sox are mediocre except for their ability to hit home runs. If they didn't have power, they would be lost. The Twins have a slight edge on offense.

Now some pitching ranks:

Hits allowed: Tigers (2), White Sox (5), Twins (11). Tigers have a big edge. Oof for the Twins.
Earned runs allowed: Tigers (2), White Sox (5), Twins (11). Same as above!
Walks allowed: Tigers (13), White Sox (5), Twins (1). Not surprising as the Twins stress this more than any other team in baseball.

The Twins are the only team of the three with a .500 record in one run games. They are also at .500 in "blowout" games. They have had 13 positive blowouts and 13 negative blowouts. The Tigers and White Sox are below .500 in one run games and the Tigers have had 11 blowout wins versus 14 blowout losses. The White Sox have 12 blowout wins and 17 (!) blowout losses.

In fielding percentage, the Twins are second in the league, the White Sox twelfth and the Tigers seventh. The White Sox are third in the division in defensive efficiency. The Twins are second. The Tigers rank first in the division in defensive efficiency.

Baseball Prospectus is currently ranking the White Sox to finish 85-77, the Twins, 82-80 and the Tigers, 80-82. This Fan doesn't believe the Tigers will end that badly or the White Sox will end that good. 82 or 83 wins will probably win the division. Who it will be is a total crap shoot. The Twins don't seem to have enough pitching, but they find a way somehow. The Tigers should be better than they are offensively, and perhaps will start to get there. The White Sox are fighting each other in the dugout and are the oldest team. Each team has its stars.

Who knows. It isn't pretty, but it's still pretty exciting.


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Josh Borenstein said...

Should make for an exciting division race.