MLB Midseason Report Card

3 of 7


July 12, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder (28) hits a single in the seventh inning against the Texas Rangers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Is the Central the worst division in baseball? If not, I think it is pretty close, and with that, most would figure the Tigers would have a better record than what they have, being they are just one of two teams in the division with a winning mark.

This team is talented and has no reason to be up just 1.5 games on the Cleveland Indians, especially a Tigers team with Prince Fielder, Torii Hunter and triple crown champion and reigning AL MVP Miguel Cabrera. They lost a series to the last-place Chicago White Sox last week and just haven’t played up to their talent.

Then there is the pitching of the Tigers with Max Scherzer, not Justin Verlander, leading the staff at 13-1 with a 3.19 ERA in 129.2 innings pitched. He’s held opponents to a BA of .206 with a WHIP of 0.98. Verlander is 10-6 with a 3.50 ERA this season with a 1.34 WHIP.

All of that said, the Tigers have the capability to still run away with this division if they play up to their potential.

Detroit enters the All-Star break 6-4 in their last 10 games.

Team MVP: Miguel Cabrera (3B) — The reigning AL MVP leads his team with a .365 BA with 95 RBIs and 132 hits (20 doubles). Cabrera leads MLB in BA, runs (72) and RBIs. He only trails Chris Davis in home runs, with Cabrera sitting at 30 and Davis at 37.

The Cleveland Indians have played better than I thought they would, and a lot of that is because of two-time World Series champion manager Terry Francona, who is in his first season as the skipper of the Tribe.

Another reason for the Indians being seven games over the .500 mark is the addition of Michael Bourn, who is becoming a cornerstone player for the rebuilding of the Indians with a .290 average with 81 hits (13 doubles), along with Jason Kipnis, but more on him later.

Another reason for the Indians being in second in the Central is their pitching ace Justin Masterson, who is 10-7 with a 3.72 ERA in 135.1 innings. He’s held the opposition to a .227 BA with a WHIP of 1.23.

Sure, this team still has improvement to make, but I think it is safe to say they are in a better place than they were last season.

TEAM MVP: Jason Kipnis (2B) — The Indians’ second baseman is at or near the top of every hitting category for the Indians. Kipnis has played in 84 games this season, with 13 home runs, but more importantly 96 hits (23 doubles, three triples) and 57 RBIs. He’s walked 45 times and stolen 21 bases. Not to mention he’s batting .301 with an OPS of .897 and OBP of .514.

Heading into the season, I think it is safe to say the Kansas City Royals and their fans had higher expectations than what they’ve seen on the field this season, right?

Being in the division they are in, there is no reason for the Royals not to get to .500 before the season is complete, but do I see them being a threat to win the division? Not at all.

The Royals are currently led in BA by Eric Hosmer at .285 by players who have played in at least 50 games, but their All-Stars this year will be Salvador Perez, Alex Gordon and just-named All-Star Greg Holland.

Holland has 22 saves this season (24 opportunities), with 15 straight. His overall ERA is 1.82 with 60 strikeouts in 35 innings.

The Royals are trying to build competitive organization with not only the aforementioned players mentioned, but with this season’s pickup of James Shields, who isn’t producing as well as he’s capable of doing.

There is an improved future with the Royals, but before they can get a better grade, they need to improve with their overall win-loss record.

Team MVP: Greg Holland (P) — With his stats saying all that needs to be said, Holland is one big piece already in place as the Royals continue to assemble a competitive team to fend off the Tigers for a division title or wildcard spot.

I know the Minnesota Twins are in worse times than they are used to, but this season, have they really taken a step forward to where they used to be in the Central? I don’t see it.

Even with Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau playing in a combined 174 games, they are still 15 games under the .500 mark and 12 games out of first in the division.

Glen Perkins has been a bright spot for the Twins, as the All-Star selection has converted 21 of 23 saves in 34.2 innings pitched. He has an ERA of 1.82 with seven earned runs and 47 strikeouts.

Still, when a team has under 40 wins at this point of the season (39-53), especially when they were 36-51 at this point of the season last year, a season where they went 66-96 overall, it is tough to give them praise. They last had a winning season in ’10 where they were 94-68, but the trend we’ve seen the past three seasons is far, far away from that season.

Team MVP: Joe Mauer (C) — A veteran of the Twins, Mauer has stayed healthy this season, leading the team in BA at .320 and runs with 50. He’s back in the All-Star game … now the team needs to put it all together to improve in the standings.

It is safe to say I’ve watched 90 percent of the Chicago White Sox games this season, and it hasn’t been that enjoyable as a baseball fan. They’ve had their moments, few and far between, but this team is about to become a fire sale because it is time for the club to start over and fix their farm system, as any hopes of the postseason are pretty much over.

It is time for the Sox to get younger and trade the veterans who can bring in the top talent they are badly lacking, as the sale has already begun with the trade of veteran reliever Matt Thornton.

This team should have begun the rebuilding process earlier, because they certainly aren’t playing like the same team (most of the players were on the squad in ’12) that took the Detroit Tigers to the ropes for the division title last season, but the one positive about this season is getting to see the younger players start getting their chance in the majors.

Team MVP: Chris Sale (P) — He’s an All-Star selection with very little run support at times this season. He’s pitched better than his 6-8 record. Sale has a 2.85 ERA in 17 starts (120 IP) with 131 strikeouts, while holding his opponents to a .213 BA. Sale’s WHIP is 1.01. In his last 10 starts, he’s 3-6 with a 2.48 ERA … you do the math.