A month ago, we looked at the American League Central, and declared it a complete mess. The Twins were barely over .500 and had been outscored on the season, but they were a couple of games up in the Central at that time. Things have gotten better since -- the Indians are in first now, and on pace for 90 wins — but in other, more accurate ways, have also gotten much worse.
Sure, Cleveland made it so there is maybe one team worthy of avoiding our scorn in the division, but everything else is trash. Minnesota, 29-26 last time we checked in, is now 39-48. The Tigers are still just kind of hanging on in the middle, without too much going wrong or too much going right, and that’s not exactly where you want to be while rebuilding. The White Sox are an embarrassment that has won just one-third of their games and lost their last five, and they aren’t even in last place, because the Royals have lost nine in a row and are on pace to lose 116 games.
The Royals are 24.5 games back in the AL Central. They have 25 wins. They’re a day off on the schedule away from being as many games back of first place as they have wins. In July. And that’s somehow not the most egregious part of it all: Kansas City is 6.5 games closer to the AL Central lead than they are to the second wild card spot in the AL.
It’s not just wild card holders and the Royals making the Central look bad, though. The Athletics are 10 games back in the AL West, behind the Astros and Mariners. They’re 6.5 back of Seattle for the second wild card as well. The A’s have 50 wins — one more than the first-place Indians do. Cleveland is .001 winning percentage points ahead of the A’s in the standings, with one fewer win and one fewer loss, but they’re in imminent danger of being lapped by a third-place team in another division.
It’s worth pointing out, too, that the majority of Cleveland’s wins have come against their garbage divisional competition. The Indians are 28-13 against Central teams, under .500 against teams from the AL East and AL West, and 7-4 in interleague play. This is where the “maybe” came in above when figuring out which teams are worthy of our scorn. It might be all of them!
The good news, for anyone not living in the AL Central’s sphere of influence, is that the rest of the American League is pretty great. The Red Sox are on pace for 110 wins. The Yankees are just two games behind them in the East despite this. Houston, the defending champions, have won six in a row like Boston and are just one win behind them on the season. The Mariners are thriving despite losing Robinson Cano, the A’s are quietly succeeding in their rebuild, and the third- and fourth-place teams in the East and West (the Rays and Angels, respectively) are over .500 as of this writing.
The Central, though? Straight trash.
- The All-Star Game rosters have been announced, which means it’s time to argue about them. Grant Brisbee went over the best and worst decisions and themes for the 2018 teams.
- Hey, the Rays have themselves another actual starter, as it appears Nathan Eovaldi’s return from his second Tommy John surgery is working out.
- Here’s the full National League All-Star roster.
- And here’s the full AL All-Star roster, which features leading vote recipient Jose Altuve.
- Of course, the rosters aren’t final yet, because we still have to get through the final fan vote for the last roster spot on each team. You’ve got until Wednesday afternoon to vote, vote, vote.
- Or don’t. Not voting is also an acceptable, strategic choice, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
- Last week, we said the Nationals needed to start winning if they were to have any real hope of taking back the NL East lead. Apparently, they were listening.
- Here’s Steven Goldman at The Hardball Times with a reminder there’s a lot of season left for the Nats.
- The Brewers reportedly made an offer to the Orioles for Manny Machado.
- The Red Sox lost a couple of players to the disabled list over the weekend.
- Talking Chop has the rundown of why the Braves were unable to sign their top pick from the 2018 draft.