The race for the American League Central Division title is closer than ever this season. After Ubaldo Jimenez had his first win as a member of the Cleveland Indians, the standings have three teams within four games of the division lead. This tight race raises a question: Who has the talent to pull through in the final two months of the season? These evenly matched teams have both strengths and weaknesses in varying aspects that have contributed to this tight race.
Although the Detroit Tigers have the most top-heavy talent, with players Magglio Ordonez, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Justin Verlander, there hasn’t been the intensity or contributions from others to take command of the division. The Chicago White Sox are an experienced team with a fiery manager, but the players struggle in all aspects of the game. Therefore, the team remains inconsistent, despite being a veteran ball club. The final team in the race is the Cleveland Indians. This young team started 30-15, the best record in baseball, but has struggled vigorously to maintain a .500 record. These three teams have many talented players, resulting in teams who would most likely be considered threats in the playoffs. The question is, though, which team will get the chance to be that threat?
A position-by-position breakdown shows the variety of strengths and weaknesses of each club. By my estimates, the Indians win six position battles, the Tigers win four and the White Sox two. This also includes ties at second base and third base. The Indians have two rookies at these positions who have both been producing. So, although these teams may be tied now, the Tribe seems better prepared to consistently win these positions.
One factor that may come into play are the managers. Chicago and Detroit have battle tested managers in Ozzie Guillen and Jim Leyland, while the Indians have a talented but inexperienced manager in Manny Acta.
Below is my breakdown of the three ball clubs vying for the American League Central crown. Feel free to comment below or via email at [email protected]
|Cleveland Indians||Detroit Tigers||Chicago White Sox||Winner|
|CF||Grady Sizemore||Austin Jackson||Alex Rios||Indians|
|RF||Shin-Soo Choo||Magglio Ordonez||Carlos Quentin||White Sox|
|LF||Kosuke Fukudome||Brennan Boesch||Juan Pierre||Tigers|
|C||Carlos Santana||Alex Avila||A.J. Pierzynski||Indians|
|1B||Matt LaPorta||Miguel Cabrera||Paul Konerko||Tigers|
|2B||Jason Kipnis||Carlos Guillen||Gordon Beckham||Tie|
|SS||Asdrubal Cabrera||Jhonny Peralta||Alexei Ramirez||Indians|
|3B||Lonnie Chisenhall||Wilson Betemit||Brent Morel||Tie|
|DH||Travis Hafner||Victor Martinez||Adam Dunn||Tigers|
|1||Ubaldo Jimenez||Justin Verlander||Mark Buehrle||Tigers|
|2||Justin Masterson||Max Scherzer||John Danks||Indians|
|3||Fausto Carmona||Rick Porcello||Jake Peavy||White Sox|
|4||Josh Tomlin||Brad Penny||Gavin Floyd||Indians|
|5||Carlos Carrasco||Doug Fister||Philip Humber||Indians|