American League Central Forecast (August 15)

by JohnBowen

This is the first of six articles where I will discuss playoff races that are legitimately in the air. Sorry, Phillies fans, no article for you. You’re in, unless you just completely implode. The first one comes brought to you by the AL Central Race:

Team Wins Losses GB RS/G RA/G
Detroit Tigers 64 56 - 4.4 4.6
Cleveland Indians 60 57 2.5 4.3 4.3
Chicago White Sox 60 60 4 4 4.1
Minnesota Twins 52 67 11.5 3.9 4.8
Kansas City Royals 50 71 14.5 4.3 4.8

I can pretty safely write off the Twins and Royals for this year, so that gives us a 3-team race.

Currently, coolstandings.com provides the following odds of winning the division (which are almost exactly the odds of making the playoffs, seeing as the Yankees or Red Sox will likely be the wild card):

Detroit Tigers:         53.1%

Cleveland Indians:   32.7%

Chicago White Sox: 14.2%

Analyzing the remaining strength-of-schedule for all three teams yields the following results:

Detroit has a .464 weighted opponent winning percentage* down the stretch, and a .440 weighted opponent winning percentage not including Cleveland or Chicago. This is due largely because they’re the only team that is done with the Rangers and the only team with three full series left against the lowly Minnesota Twins. They also benefit from another series against the Orioles (from whom they took 2 of 3 over the weekend) and a 3-game set against the Oakland Athletics.

That’s the easiest of three contenders in the AL Central. Chicago is looking at a .489 weighted opponent winning percentage and .468 when Detroit and Cleveland aren’t included; these figures are .478 and .448 for Cleveland respectively.

My take is that Detroit is going to hold on, finishing with a record of about 88-74; this is due to both their easier schedule, and a more steady dose of off-days than Cleveland will have.

Cleveland will stumble down the stretch because they are a young team and, because of rainouts, now have to make up 45 games in just 44 days. They are without their best all-around player (Grady Sizemore) for the remainder of the year and just got their second-best player (Shin Soo Choo) back in the lineup after long DL stint.  They’ll turn in with about a .500 record, but finish just ahead of the Chicago White Sox – that is, unless Adam Dunn awakes from his season-long slumber.

19 Responses to “American League Central Forecast (August 15)”

  1. Jim Says:

    In the race for the basement, the Twins will slide below the Royals. The Twins have been mailing it in for 2 weeks. Can’t imagine why they weren’t sellers at the trade deadline.

  2. John Says:

    I imagine because they look at their team and think they can compete in 2012.

    The one move they did make was to trade Delmon Young (who I think sucks).

    Makes a lot of sense, given the plethora of corner OF/DH/1B’s that rock Minnesota’s roster.

  3. Raul Says:

    The White Sox got nothing from Adam Dunn this season, and the bullpen probably leads the majors in blown saves.

    If Ozzie Guillen had Yuniesky Betancourt instead of Adam Dunn this year, and a sack of potatoes instead of Matt Thornton, they’d lead this division by 6-7 games easily.

  4. Raul Says:

    My bad, the Sox aren’t close to being league leaders in blown saves.
    They’re in the middle of the pack with 14.

    I think they blew like 4 or 5 in April, though.

  5. Raul Says:

    Was surprised to see this…

    I did a search on ESPN.com for innings leaders by team, and sorted by Starters.
    Leading the Majors?

    1. Los Angeles Angels
    2. Philadelphia Phillies
    3. Seattle Mariners

    The Mariners????

    The Yankees are 11th.
    The Red Sox are 23rd.

  6. Hartvig Says:

    Detroit Tigers, 2011 World Series Champions.

    You heard it here first.

  7. Jim Says:

    @John #2, The idea of the Twins competing next year is delusional. My thought on why they didn’t move Kubel and/or Cuddyer is they feared fan reaction. The Twins have a lot of mediocre players at key positions, a rotation that is made up middle and back of the rotation pitchers and under performing/injured stars. Also it doesn’t appear that there is too much help in the farm system.

  8. John Says:

    ” under performing/injured stars”

    Right…this year.

    Mauer and Morneau have both missed a ton of time.

    No rule saying they have to miss a ton of time in 2012 (well, Morneau might think there’s a rule…)

  9. Raul Says:

    Miguel Cabrera hits like a machine every year and can never seem to win the MVP.
    He was in Pujols’ shadow in the National League, and now it’s possible he loses to Granderson, Adrian Gonzalez or Jose Bautista.

    What’s a guy gotta do?
    A friggin Santeria rain dance or something?

  10. Danny O Says:

    Cabrera is gonna end up with almost 1000 RBIs at the end of this year and he’s only 28.

    Sick.

  11. Raul Says:

    Cabrera might drink himself out of the league, though.
    1,000 RBI at 28 gives him a legit shot at the all-time RBI title but who knows?

    A lot can happen in a year, much less 10 years.

    That record will belong to Alex Rodriguez first, though. He’s 414 away.

  12. Cameron Says:

    Do you think A-Rod has the 4-5 years left in him? He’s healthy and productive now, but his health’s been taking a noted downward trend the last couple of years, production’s a tad down too.

  13. Danny O Says:

    With that contract, Arod will definetly DH and get to the RBI record.

    It is too soon with Cabrera but he’s on pace.

    Pujols has a shot too, no?

  14. John Says:

    http://mlb.sbnation.com/2011/8/15/2364354/santiago-casilla-batting-video-jose-ceda-giants-marlins

  15. John Says:

    …hilarious

  16. Cameron Says:

    Holy shit. Jose Ceda, you fail.

  17. Hartvig Says:

    Saw that. The only thing I can think of is that Ceda must have been thrown off by where Casilla was standing. Part of the mental picture you form in your head is where the batter is standing. Casilla was 3 feet away from that. It must have been like superimposing 2 different pictures on each other and that threw off Ceda’s control.

    Either that or Ceda just sucks.

  18. Cameron Says:

    He could’ve thrown three down broadway and still struck him out. Casilla was so far out he’d need two steps forawrd just to get his bat in the strike zone. Ceda fucked that up.

  19. John Says:

    Ceda did manage to retire multiple professional hitters and escape with a scoreless frame.

    Still.

    How?!

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