The American League Central was envisioned as an extremely tight race this upcoming season, with sportsbooks posting season win totals of 84 to 79 on the best four clubs in the division.
To date this has not happened as Detroit and Kansas City have run away from the pack and been superior choices for MLB picks. Will this trend continue or should MLB baseball handicappers and other studying the betting odds seek other opportunities in the coming weeks? Here is each team’s breakdown in the division.
Detroit Tigers – Tough Tiger to Tame
Coming into the season, it was a given the top of the Detroit batting order was going to produce. The starting pitching had question marks and the bullpen was believed to be more wishful thinking than results oriented. The Tigers hitters are performing as presumed, 4th in baseball in runs scored and the depth of lineup has been amazing when have shortstop Jose Igelsias is batting .400 and outfielder Anthony Gose in over 30 plate appearances is sporting a .406 average. Even without Justin Verlander, the Tigers starting pitchers have the league’s best ERA, thanks to somewhat astonishing efforts of Shane Green (0.39 ERA) and Alfredo Simon (1.74), to go along with David Price (0.40). The bullpen has been above average even without Joe Nathan and collectively the Tigers are mauling opponents in winning by 2.3 runs per contest, which explains backing them for MLB picks has been fun at +8.2 units. This week, Detroit still has the Yankees and Cleveland at home before heading out to Minnesota and Kansas City. At least for the next week you have to like Detroit for sports picks.
Kansas City Royals – Kansas City Serious About Defending AL Crown
Ned Yost’s squad has not only started like Usian Bolt, but played with a chip on their shoulder. It is obvious last year’s unexpected run to an almost World Series title did wonders for the confidence of Kansas City players, who either are or are approaching their prime. Also, the Royals are not taking guff from anyone and have been involved in extracurricular activities on the field this season more than once. The vast majority of sportsbooks had K.C. fourth in season win totals and this along with other publications potentially undervaluing the Royals has fueled their blazing start. The offense has been on a tear being second in the majors in runs scored and the starting pitching has been good, with the bullpen remarkable, leading to Kansas City destroying opponents by 2.5 per game. Yost’s crew will play AL Central opponents only the next 2 ½ weeks and will often will be favored and worth a look. Already looking forward to the six confrontations with Detroit starting April 30th.
Chicago White Sox – Chicago’s Weak Start
Chicago closed out spring training in Arizona swinging the lumber with authority. Maybe someone in the organization should go back to Glendale, AZ; because that was the last time the White Sox offense was seen. Chicago is 13th in the AL in scoring. What the issue for Pale Hose has been is the – clutch hit – because when you review their stats in batting and slugging percentages, total bases and on-base percentage, they are either slightly above or below average in the AL. The ChiSox starting pitching has been a real disappointment, with Chris Sale the only hurler with an ERA under 4. The upcoming schedule is no bargain with the Royals in town for 4 games followed by a journey to Baltimore. Hard to back the White Sox until the hitting and pitching come through.
Cleveland Indians – Cleveland Punchless on Offense
Few will debate taking Michael Brantley and Yan Gomes would almost certainly weaken Cleveland’s offense, however, when they went down they were not contributing much either at .226 and .150 respectively. Now consider this, the best batting average for any Indians player with at least 30 at bats (as of 4/22) is Jason Kipnis at .224. We are talking Padres 2014 numbers here people! Guys like Carlos Santana, Michael Bourn, Lonny Chisenhall and Brandon Moss are in most cases not hitting their weight. With how the Tigers and Royals are playing, it might only be in the latter stages of April, but Cleveland is already in trailing by a good-sized margin. If the offense continues in this fashion, it could end up a very disappointing campaign for the Tribe with series next against Detroit and Kansas City.
Minnesota Twins – They are who we thought they were
That is an infamous quote from former Arizona Cardinals Denny Green after an immensely frustrating loss on a Monday night game. Yet if you knew Minnesota’s MLB odds before the season, they were not good and indicators are they will be right on the nose about the Twins this year. The Twinkies are delicious play against group, already being outscored by 1.9 runs a contest, with an offense that is 27th in runs scored and in the bottom three of the AL in any pertinent pitching stat. Starting on April 27th, Minnesota will have their longest homestand of the year (11 games), but the opposition will not lend itself necessarily to many wins unless something changes, taking on the Tigers, White Sox and A’s.