Here come the Twins! They are beginning to resemble the team that mashed the ball in August and September last season, a good sign moving forward. They begin Week 5 above .500 and are actually relevant in the American League. We’ll see if they can keep it up this week at home against the A’s and then on the road against the lonely Indians. They beat up on their division rival White Sox last week who have struggled to score runs all year, and are now shockingly in last place entering the week.
No one should be surprised that the Royals and Tigers split their four game series over the weekend. They are clearly the two best teams in the Central and should be battling for the top spot all season long. There is not much to say about the struggling Indians. They have dug themselves an early hole in the division and if they don’t turn it around very soon, they will find themselves in a position that is insurmountable.
Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians:
The 2014 Cy Young award winner has gotten off to an awful start in 2015. He doesn’t have a win to his name and the Indians have lost all of his starts so far. It is still relatively early to be overly concerned, especially because his starting catcher has been out for his last three starts. When Gomes finally does return, I expect Kluber to find his stride again. Many Kluber owners may not be willing to wait that long, but I must advise you against trading him away. You would be selling him low, and not getting the type of return on your investment that you need to. The Indians have also started terribly, something I don’t expect to last all season long. Give Kluber and the Indians another month before you make any drastic decisions.
Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox:
Entering the 2015 season, many had Sale on their short list for AL Cy Young award favorite. He missed half of spring training and got off to a slow start this season due to injury. It’s not unusual for a pitcher to need a few starts to get into a rhythm, even with a full spring training so owners shouldn’t panic just yet. Sale is way too talented to continue to pitch poorly. His ERA of over 5.00 and WHIP of over 1.40 are way higher than what we are accustomed to. Don’t be surprised when he goes on a stretch of 12 straight starts without a loss, over 8 k’s, 3 ER or less, and 6 or more IP. He is still the anchor of the White Sox staff and one of best pitchers in all of baseball.
Phil Hughes: Minnesota Twins:
He’s definitely not as good as Kluber and Sale, and some may argue that he’s not an ace. Based on the team he’s on, he’s absolutely an ace and the anchor of the pitching staff. Hughes proved himself last season with the Twins. He won 16 games and had an ERA of 3.50. The team went 20-12 in his starts and they rewarded him with a contract extension this offseason, and he should now be a Twin for many years to come. Through the first 4 weeks this season, Hughes was winless and had an ERA of over 4.50. Those numbers are certainly not what is expected out of him, yet he’s just one of many top pitchers who have gotten off to poor starts, not just in the AL Central, but all around MLB. I still expect a 15 win season and an ERA in the mid 3’s. He got knocked around early in his start on Monday, but settled in very nicely after. His team rallied in the middle innings and got him the W. His ERA actually went up after this start, and it’s worth noting that he has a 2nd start this week, and hopefully can lower it.
Trevor Plouffe, Minnesota Twins:
Entering 2015, I was not so high on Plouffe. He’s always been an average player and I believed that he was keeping the 3B position warm for top prospect Miguel Sano. That still may be the case, but at least he is proving that he can be productive. Last week he had 11 H, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 5 R, and raised his BA 40 points. Don’t expect him to produce at that pace with any consistency, yet I would suggest riding the hot bat. He is likely not owned in most leagues, so pick him up if your lineup needs a boost or your current 3B is not performing.
Mike Moustakas, Kansas City Royals:
I have discussed Moustakas already this season and I can safely say that if you took my advice early on, he’s proving to be one of the bigger offensive surprises in 2015. He’s been hitting well all season, carrying over his success from last years postseason. He’s proving to be a very tough out, hitting 2nd in the batting order for the high flying Royals. Mous is hitting the ball to all fields, driving in runs, and has been one of the more consistent hitters in all of baseball. Last week he had 12 H, 5 R and 5 RBI. Some may say that he is a sell high candidate and won’t keep up this pace. I would say that he is certainly a sell high candidate, however, it’s my opinion that he will keep up this pace (end the season hitting around .300) and his HR total will start to rise as the weather continues to heat up.
Joe Mauer: Minnesota Twins:
At this point, all fantasy baseball owners know that Joe Mauer is not the player he once was. The power part of his game seems to have completely vanished and as a CI that’s not ideal. It is worth mentioning that he hasn’t lost his plate discipline, strike zone recognition, or his ability to drive in runs. He is still a very tough out and puts the bat on the ball with what seems like relative ease. I personally think he’s undervalued as a fantasy player and will continue to produce as long as the players around him get on base too. I think that is a strong possibility considering that the Twins have one of the more underrated lineups in all of baseball. Last week Mauer had 12 H, 6 R and 5 RBI, let’s see if he can build off this.
Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians:
He’s still one of the more talented offensive 2B in baseball, yet Kipnis has not received the credit he deserves after a tough 2014 season. He is a 20/20 caliber player who can hit .275, drive in runs, and hits atop a lineup with great hitters. It’s not his fault that his teams pitchers have all stunk in 2015 (Bauer is the exception). Last week Kipnis had 11 H, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 8 R and raised his BA 38 points. He may have finally found his power stroke, which will greatly increase his value. He is a buy low candidate, even with his great week. The overall feeling on Kipnis is not good right now and you may be able to get him before he explodes.
Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals:
One of the more highly touted prospects when he first arrived on the scene, Hosmer was actually a let down to most people due to his lack of power and consistency at the plate. Like his teammate Mike Moustakas, Hosmer seemed to find himself in last years postseason and has carried over that success to 2015. He is batting cleanup for the Defending AL Champs and has a ton of RBI opportunities. He’s protected by a talented and veteran hitter in Kendrys Morales, as well which is getting him more hittable pitches. Last week Hosmer had 10 H, 2 HR, 5 RBI and 7 R, while raising his BA to up over .300. He has on OBP just under .400, which is one of the tops in the AL, and also has the ability to steal 15-20 bases. If he and Moustakas keep up their All-Star caliber performance, the Royals will be a playoff favorite all season long.
Thanks for reading this week 5 preview of the AL Central. This will be my last month of writing as I will be moving my focus to co-hosting the Major League Fantasy Sports Football show. If you have any questions, comments, or just wanna talk some baseball, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Click the BLUE link to listen to the show)
Major League Fantasy Sports Radio Show: Join Ej Garr and Corey D Roberts on Sunday May 10th from 7-9pm EST for this week’s episode of Major League Fantasy Sports Radio sponsored by the Sports Palooza Radio Network. Call in at 646-915-8596. Our topics this week will be the N.L. East and N.L. Central.