We’ve reached the All-Star break of the 2010 season, and I wanted to post a breakdown on the crazy division that is the AL Central.

In my preseason predictions for each division, the AL Central was one that I labored over the most. Wanting to pick the Twins, but scared of the injury to closer Joe Nathan and thinking the Tigers were relying on too many rookies at once, I opted for the White Sox to win the division. I immediately regretted that decision about a month into the season when Chicago looked awful and off to a 14-21 record in mid-May. The AL Central had suddenly turned into only a two-team race as the Sox were fading fast. Well, as it turns out, the division is still pretty much whatever everyone thought it would be—a three-team race that most likely will be undecided into the final week of the season.

Only a little over a month ago, the White Sox were nine games below .500 and the Central standings looked like this on the morning of June 9:

Minnesota   34-24     —
Detroit          30-27    3.5
Chicago         24-33    9.5

The White Sox pounded the Tigers that evening 15-3 and went on an absolute tear to force themselves back in the picture. The Sox went on a blistering 25-5 pace in the next month that included winning streaks of 11 and a current one of eight to find themselves in first place at the break. A big reason for the turnaround has been (as usual) the home run for Chicago (third in the AL with 100), including the resurgence of Carlos Quentin, who is hitting .529 (9-for-17) with six home runs in his past five games. Whoa. Today, the standings read:

Chicago          49-38       —
Detroit            48-38      0.5
Minnesota      46-42     3.5

As I write this on July 12, I honestly have no clue how this division will eventually play out. The White Sox will have to come back down to earth after this ridiculous 25-5 run, but they’ve made up for their poor start and are right back in the hunt. All three teams are ranked in a row in the AL in ERA with the Sox having the slight edge with a 4.01 ERA over the Twins (4.09) and Tigers (4.29). On the other hand, the Twins and Tigers both have a higher batting average and on-base percentage than Chicago, but the Sox make up for it with the long ball and pitching. Head-to-head, the Twins have the advantage going 10-7 against the Tigers and Sox in the first half while the Tigers have not fared well against their two division rivals with a 6-10 record. The Tigers and Twins have already met a lot in the first half, but the Tigs and Sox still have 13 games remaining against each other.

I believe all three teams will be right there, because the Twins, Tigers and White Sox are all good teams. The problem is, none of these three teams are great teams. While the division race will be fun to watch down the stretch, none of them are a great team, and therefore whichever team wins the pennant, I don’t see them doing much damage in the playoffs when facing powerhouses like the Yankees, Red Sox or the Rays.

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