AL Central Second-Half Preview

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Jul 16, 2013; Flushing, NY, USA; American League infielder Jason Kipnis (22) of the Cleveland Indians hits a RBI double in the 8th inning in the 2013 All Star Game at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

If this club had Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn on the mound and Willie Mays Hayes running around the bases, I’d give the Cleveland Indians a better shot at overtaking the Tigers at the top of the division in the second half of the season.

But this isn’t a movie, though I must write I’m more than impressed with where the Indians stand right now in the division, because at the start of the season, I wouldn’t have given this team a chance to get past third place.

The Tribe is seven games over the .500 mark (.553 PCT) with a 30-19 home record but are four games under the .500 plateau at 21-25 away from the former “Jake.”

Cleveland does rank in the Top 10 in runs scored (5th, 454), on-base percentage (4th, .330) and slugging percentage (8th, .418), and they are 11th in BA at .258.

Still, those numbers put them in second place in a division that isn’t the greatest in baseball, with Jason Kipnis batting .301 for a team-high (also the team leader in RBIs with 57, OBP .383 and hits at 96), and Mark Reynolds leading with 15 home runs, so from the looks of the numbers, this team doesn’t win with power.

I really do enjoy watching Justin Masterson pitch a game. He leads the Tribe with 10 wins, a 3.72 ERA and 137 strikeouts. Masterson is the only Indians pitcher to have over 100 innings this season (135.1), which is somewhat alarming, but Ubaldo Jimenez follows with 98.2 IP, along with Corey Kluber at 95.0.

My thoughts on this club are they are a year or so away from really being a consistent contender in not only the Central, but the AL in general. I see this club no worse than third, but no better than second, at the conclusion of the season.

For this team to get past the Tigers, I think it is fair to say they need a little more from their starting pitching, as the next in wins to Masterson is a tie at seven wins in Jimenez and Kluber and Scott Kazmir with five. It also wouldn’t hurt for the starters to lower the ERA a tad, either.