- Minnesota 22-16
- Chicago 19-19
- Cleveland 16-19
- Kansas City 14-23
- Detroit 13-25
No team in the division currently has a winning streak going, while Cleveland is bringing up the rear holding a three-game losing streak. The Guardians have a +2 run differential despite being in third place while the White Sox have outperformed expectations given their -27 run differential.
While not to the level of Boston, the White Sox slow start is at least somewhat surprising. They’ve dealt with injury and been on the wrong side of some unfortunate games. Ultimately though, the White Sox have an ugly run differential and play some of the worst defense in the league. Tim Anderson is still hitting, but his work in the field has been atrocious. Jose Abreu has just a .625 OPS thus far and is well off his .832 mark from 2021. Despite the solid average, Luis Robert just crossed the .800 OPS threshold on Thursday. There should be plenty of room for that number to rise. Thus far, Tony La Russa’s management of a young star like Andrew Vaughn has been perplexing to say the least. This team has the talent to rush to the top, but it will be interesting to see how they manage their way forward.
I’d wager that Terry Francona expected this Guardians team to be a bit better. Andres Gimenez has hit the ball well, and Jose Ramirez continues to be among baseball’s best at the hot corner. Cal Quantrill was solid again on Thursday but took a no-decision as Cleveland lacked run support. Shane Bieber hasn’t been the 2020 version of himself and Steven Kwan has come back down to earth a bit. Ramirez is the one to watch over the next week as he left Thursday’s game with a bruised shin and is being called day-to-day.
Kansas City wasn’t expected to be good this year, but I don’t know if they were pegged to be this bad. Bobby Witt Jr. is settling into life as a Major Leaguer, and despite bumps in the road, has shown why his prospect stock was so high. Salvador Perez was recently placed on the injured list with a thumb sprain which opened the door for star prospect M.J. Melendez to enter the lineup. He and Witt both homered for the Royals against the White Sox on Wednesday night. Veteran outfielder Michael A. Taylor was placed on the Covid-IL before Wednesday’s game after being scratched from the lineup.
There was reason to believe A.J. Hinch could take the Tigers a step forward this season but the results haven’t materialized. Eduardo Rodriguez is expected to be placed on the injured list with what’s being called a “left-side” injury. Michael Pineda broke a finger last Saturday, and Casey Mize has been on the injured list since April 15 due to a right elbow strain. Matt Manning, already on the injured list with right shoulder inflammation, is working his way back through a rehab assignment. Meanwhile, key free-agent signing Javier Baez is batting just .204 with a .554 OPS, and last year’s Rule 5 darling Akil Baddoo was optioned to Triple-A.
The Week Ahead:
Minnesota kicks off a weekend series against Kansas City at Kauffman Stadium before returning home to host both Detroit and those same Royals. The Twins will be looking to exact revenge on the Royals after they dropped two of three during the season’s first month. Rocco Baldelli’s club already has a series sweep of the Tigers and owns a +12 run differential against the divisions cellar dwellers.
Looking to close the gap at the top, Chicago has a tough test going out east to play the New York Yankees over the week. Aaron Boone has the Bronx Bombers currently going as one of baseball’s best teams. The White Sox do get a reprieve following an off day as the Red Sox come to town. Boston has failed to meet expectations thus far, and Tony La Russa’s club could be getting them at the right time.
Similar to what Minnesota is seeing from a schedule construction standpoint, Cleveland hosts the Tigers for three at home before traveling to Houston for a three-game set. They’ll then close out the road trip with another series against Detroit.
Between hosting and traveling to face the Twins, Kansas City gets a quick two-game set against the NL West Arizona Diamondbacks.
What are you looking forward to for the Twins this week? How are you evaluating the competition? Share your thoughts in the comments below!