MLB Power Rankings: AL Central figures to be a two-horse race between the Twins and Indians
Minnesota cracks the top five this week with a good chance to dethrone the Indians from the AL Central this season
On CBS Sports HQ (video above), I power ranked the divisions and the easiest pick was which one to slot last: The AL Central.
The White Sox aren't terrible and can be exciting, but they also aren't good. The Tigers and Royals are pretty terrible. The Tigers and maybe the White Sox have more wins than their true talent level and it's because these three teams have all played each other frequently.
On that front, let's mention the Indians. After being completely suffocated Sunday by a not-so-good Mariners team, the Indians are 18-14. It's fine, but they have a pitiful offense and are going to be without both Mike Clevinger and Corey Kluber for quite a while. It's hard to call this a reliably good team until something happens with the offense or both fixtures in the rotation return -- and in Kluber's case, pitch like he has in the past.
All of this leaves the door open for the Twins and so far they are walking right through that proverbial door.
Last week, I mentioned that an argument could be made that the Twins were beating up on weak teams, but this week they faced the Astros and Yankees a combined seven times and went 4-3. That's strong and now the next few weeks on the schedule look relatively soft.
How about that power? Man, they've been killing the ball. "He's on pace to ______" is dumb still after just over a month, but I'm going to use it here to put the numbers in perspective.
- The Twins have seven players with at least five homers right now. At this rate, players with five home runs are on pace to hit 25 this season. The record for the number of players on a team with at least 25 home runs is six. The 2003 Red Sox were the only team to even have more than five. There have only been 14 teams with five.
- They have five players with at least six home runs. At this rate, players with six home runs are on pace to hit 30. The record for the number of players on a team with at least 30 home runs is four (12 different teams with the most recent being the 2009 Phillies).
- The Twins have three players with at least seven. At this rate, a player with seven homers is on pace to hit 35. The record for players with at least 35 homers on a team is three. It's been done 15 times, the most recent being the 2016 Orioles.
- Just for kicks, Eddie Rosario's 11 homers mean he's on pace for 56.
That's a deep offense. Entering Sunday, they were nearly slugging .500 (.493) as a team and that's ridiculous. Oh, and they'll soon be getting Miguel Sano back from injury. He has been really inconsistent through most of his career, but we've seen his upside. He's still only 26, too, so there's a chance consistency comes.
Meantime, they are getting frontline-quality work in the rotation from Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi. Martin Perez is 3-0 with a 2.08 ERA in his last four starts and is really looking the part of a frontliner thanks to his increased velocity -- due to new mechanics -- and his addition of the cutter to his arsenal.
The bullpen as a whole could stand to be better, but the back-end arms are mostly keeping runs off the board.
It's still way early in the season, but the AL Central figures to be a two-horse race (sorry, Derby fans ...). Heading into the season, we could have predicted that. Most didn't predict that it would be the Twins who clearly looked like the better team, though.
Will it hold? Stay tuned. Even the worst division in baseball can be entertaining. The Twins right now are one of the most entertaining -- and one of the best! -- teams in all of baseball.
|1||Rays||They haven't played a team with a current winning record since the first series of the season. That changes now, with the Diamondbacks and Yankees visiting the Trop this week.||--||74-54|
|2||Cubs||From 1-6 with all kinds of worrying to first place in exactly a month. They look like the best team in the NL, at present, and I strongly considered them for the top spot. They have been scary-good of late.||6||68-58|
|3||Dodgers||So Travis d'Arnaud is going to follow in the footsteps of Justin Turner, Chris Taylor, Max Muncy et al as the guy the Dodgers grab for peanuts and then magically turn awesome, huh?||1||84-44|
|4||Yankees||As the rotation injuries mount, now including James Paxton, let's point out how much of a godsend Domingo German has been. He's got a 2.35 ERA and 0.89 WHIP in 38 1/3 innings.||1||83-45|
|5||Twins||Someone who isn't going well? Marwin Gonzalez is hitting just .204/.271/.286 even after going 2 for 4 on Sunday.||1||77-50|
|6||Astros||Gerrit Cole has an MLB-best 65 strikeouts and his ERA was really only harmed by a weird game in Arlington. He went seven scoreless innings last time. I'll predict a strong run here in the next several weeks.||3||81-47|
|7||Cardinals||The Birds on the Bat had a case for the top spot, but then got swept by their rivals to the north -- in pretty bloody fashion. The NL Central is going to be so fun this season.||3||67-58|
|8||Diamondbacks||Before Sunday's meltdown, the D-Backs had won 14 of 18 with the only losses coming to the streaking Cubs.||2||64-64|
|9||Phillies||Zach Eflin has only allowed two earned runs in 16 innings in his last two starts. Aaron Nola has had two encouraging outings in a row. The Phillies are in first and several players are bound to get better on offense. Things are going well.||2||66-60|
|10||Brewers||How about the year Zach Davies is putting together? After another gem on Sunday, he's now 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA.||2||65-62|
|11||Padres||What a gut punch of a series against the Dodgers up until the final pitch, which was amazing. They finish the series with an outstanding highlight, but man, they should have swept.||2||59-67|
|12||Indians||Jose Ramirez is 7 for 22 with two doubles in his last six games. Hey, you gotta start somewhere.||1||74-53|
|13||Braves||Two starts off the IL and Mike Foltynewicz has really gotten knocked around (5.06 ERA). It was an elbow injury that sidelined him to start the year and his fourseam fastball velocity is down roughly 2 1/2 miles per hour.||6||76-52|
|14||Red Sox||OK, NOW maybe they are fixed. You can't sing the praises enough regarding what Michael Chavis has meant for them getting on track.||9||67-61|
|15||Rangers||The perpetually-underrated Shin-Soo Choo is hitting .328/.416/.555 on the season.||--||63-65|
|16||Rockies||They got on the cusp of .500 and then dropped five of seven. Perhaps that crazy comeback on Sunday shakes them back into shape.||1||58-69|
|17||Pirates||A season of extremes: The Pirates were 1-3, won 11 of 14, lost eight in a row and have now won four of five.||4||52-74|
|18||Athletics||They've lost eight of their last nine and are 5-13 on the road.||4||73-53|
|19||Mariners||The blowout win on Sunday broke a six-game losing streak in which they were outscored 53-12.||3||54-74|
|20||Mets||The Mets have lost three of their last four, despite only having given up eight runs. The good news is hiring and then firing hitting coach Chili Davis seems to help offenses the year after he's gone. Mets, 2020!||2||66-60|
|21||Angels||Shohei Ohtani will be back very soon and that's great news for the Angels' offense. Hopefully they slot him behind Mike Trout, who leads the majors in both walks and intentional walks.||3||63-67|
|22||Blue Jays||I give them a nice promotion and they go 1-5 on the week. Sigh.||9||52-77|
|23||Nationals||Now five games under .500, the struggling Nationals face the Brewers and Dodgers for seven games on the road this week. Uh oh.||3||69-57|
|24||Giants||I don't think he's ever gonna be an All-Star again, but I just noticed Buster Posey seemed like he's been heating up. Since April 18, he's hitting .333. Sunday was just the second game all season in which he had two extra-base hits, too.||1||63-64|
|25||Reds||Blowing two pretty good leads in three days against the Giants isn't things contending teams do. The Reds are the best last-place team, but they have flaws and if those were cleaned up they could still contend.||3||60-66|
|26||Tigers||I wish he had some of his old power back, but it's cool to see Miguel Cabrera hitting (.298 average with a .363 OBP).||1||38-86|
|27||White Sox||Awful news on Carlos Rodon. Up until his last two starts (during which he might have already been hurt), he appeared to be turning a corner.||1||57-69|
|28||Royals||Adalberto Mondesi leads the majors in both triples and steals. That's off-the-charts fun.||--||45-82|
|29||Orioles||Trey Mancini's having himself a nice season, hitting .336 with a .574 slugging. He's all over the AL leaderboards. The Orioles need an All-Star, too.||--||41-86|
|30||Marlins||The Marlins are on pace to go 44-118.||--||45-80|
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