After a very exciting opening week, we take a look above at the AL Central standings, six games in. I am not the type of person who puts much thought into April statistics, however, the following players are worth a look, thought, or even a waiver wire pickup. Every team in this division will have their ups and downs throughout the season, but like most divisions and even most sports, it will be the healthiest and most consistent team that comes out on top. I keep flipping back and forth between the Tigers and White Sox as my favorite, yet a lot of experts like the Indians, and I think the Royals can make some noise if they finally get consistent production out of Hosmer and Moustakas. I do think the Tigers are built better than the rest to withstand a few injuries here or there, at least offensively, however, only time will tell. The following analysis is best suited for leagues of 10-12 teams, but can be applied anywhere.
Start planning for the worst:
OF: Michael Brantley – CLE
I am a Brantley owner myself and I must say, although it’s only been one week, I am very nervous about his current situation. He struggled with back issues for most of spring training and he seems to have never fully healed. He’s already missed half of the Indians games so far, and is expected to be out most of this week as well. Back injuries can linger for a very long time and even if he is able to play most of this season, one can’t stop but think that he will never be at 100%. This is extremely disappointing, seeing as how Brantley had a break out season in 2014, finishing 3rd in AL MVP voting, and is a key cog in the Indians lineup. You may want to consider trying to trade him for someone of equal value or for a player at a position that you’re currently lacking in. When I heard last week that he reinjured his back by reaching for something (not baseball related), I began to worry. If he does not return by weeks end and stay in the lineup for an extended period of time, my worrying will turn to panic.
Players to look out for:
OF: Anthony Gose – DET
He was once a top prospect for the Astros and the Blue Jays, but never quite found himself at the MLB level. He showed signs of brilliance at times, especially in the field and on the base paths, however, the Blue Jays decided to trade him to the Tigers for 2B Devon Travis. Gose is now a platoon player for Detroit, manning CF with Rajai Davis, but it is worth noting that he will be playing vs RHP and should get the majority of the playing time. As a youngster, he was compared to All-Star Carl Crawford, and although Gose has yet to develop his power or come close to reaching All-Star status, he could be in line for a very productive season in 2015. He is leading off in a lineup with star power throughout, specifically the 2-6 hitters. Look for Gose to score 80-90 runs, hit .275 and steal 30 or more bases. If your team lacks speed, you should absolutely pick him up.
OF: Michael Bourn – CLE
He was once a player that had to be drafted every season, especially when he was a member of the Astros. As a free agent, he signed a pretty lucrative deal to come to Cleveland and has been nothing but a disappointment thus far. Injuries have played a role in his decline, but he appears to be healthy and ready to contribute atop the Indians lineup in 2015. He is still one of the faster players in the MLB and although his SB totals have been down the last few years, he can absolutely steal 30 or more bases. When you consider that he once stole more than 60, there is certainly optimism surrounding him. If he can stay healthy all season, he should prove to be very productive while scoring a ton of runs on top his SB.
RP: Joakim Soria – DET
As a former closer for both the Royals and the Rangers, Soria has a ton of experience in the late innings and in my opinion is a far superior option than Joe Nathan. He recently took over the closers role from Nathan, after Nathan hit the DL. I expected Soria to get the job in the early going anyways, seeing how Nathan has gotten up there in age and had a terrible 2014 season and dreadful spring training. I do expect Soria to keep the job even when Nathan returns, however, nothing has been set in stone. Depending on your leagues scoring format (Holds and/or inherited runners stranded), Soria will be useful regardless of what happens. Keep your eyes on him and your ears open for information on the Tigers and Joe Nathan specifically.
1B/DH: Kendrys Morales – KC
After not being signed until June of last year, Morales was never able to get himself going in 2014. The Twins signed him to try to bolster their offense, and eventually gave up on him and sent him to Seattle. He didn’t perform much for either team, and because of it he fell off of most people’s draft boards, especially at the 1B position, which is extremely deep. I would recommend picking this guy up if he’s available in your league. Since breaking his leg back in 2010 with the Angels, most people have written Morales off as the power threat and run producer he once was. I am here to tell you why you should give him a chance. In 2012, coming off an 18 month layoff, he still managed to hit 22 HR and drive in 73 while hitting for a .273 BA. In 2013, he hit 24 HR in Seattle (where hitters go to die), drove in 80 and hit for a .277 BA. I would say that worse case scenario, he will put up very similar numbers to what he did in 2013. Pick him up while you can.
SP: Trevor May – MIN
With Ricky Nolasco hitting the DL for the Twins, it was only a matter of time before the Twins were going to call up one of their young pitchers from the minors. Initially I would have expected it to be Alex Meyer, but due to control issues he will remain in the minors and May will now get his chance to prove himself at the MLB level. He got his chance last season, although it was only 45 innings and it did not go so well. In the minor leagues, May has a lot of success striking hitters out. At 25 years old with a 6’5 stature, he has a lot of potential and a delivery that can definitely be deceiving. Things were going well for the youngster in his first start this year, until the 6th inning when it seemed like everything he threw was in the middle of the plate and up – a recipe for disaster. I certainly wouldn’t pick him up yet, just keep a watchful eye on him.
That wraps up this weeks article. Continue to follow me every week as I break down useful and important tid bits in the AL Central. For any questions, comments or if you just want to talk baseball, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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