Just a week and a half into the season, a lot of things are yet to change in this 2012 baseball season. However, it certainly isn’t harmful to take a snapshot of what we have seen so far, and wonder aloud if some of those things are going to continue to happen. Since the Tigers play in the A.L. Central, I wanted to take a look at the week and a half that was in the Central.
Detroit 6-3, 1st Place
The Tigers 2012 season got off to a tremendous start at home, winning 5 of 6 games against the formidable foes of the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays. And while the offense did post double digits runs twice against the Red Sox, it’s been the starting pitching that has been pretty darn good for the Tigers. Justin Verlander has turned in two good performances, as well as Rick Porcello. Young lefties Adam Wilk and Drew Smyly were both solid as well. The only start of the year that could be considered poor was Max Scherzer‘s first effort, which the Tigers ended up winning.
The vaunted Tigers offense hasn’t been great the last 6 games, scoring just 22 runs in that span, and their first trip on the road to Chicago produced their first consecutive losses on the season. However, there have been some bright spots. Austin Jackson has more than done his part from the leadoff spot, hitting a robust .412, while getting on base at a .512 clip. And newest Tiger Prince Fielder is playing well, hitting .353 with his new club.
Chicago White Sox 5-3, 2nd Place
The White Sox have kind of been written off by a lot of people, and if the first week and a half is any indication, that might be a mistake. The White Sox started 1-2 against the Rangers, but had a 4-1 record this week against divisional foes, Cleveland and Detroit.
The offense of the White Sox is still very questionable at best. Adam Dunn is better than he was last year so far, but still not lighting the world on fire. The always steady Paul Konerko is off to a hot start, and the young Dayan Viciedo is showing some power, but there are some clear holes. Brent Morel, Alexis Rios, and Gordon Beckham are just terrible, and none are over the Mendoza line.
Cleveland Indians 4-4, 3rd Place
It took a little bit, and the Kansas City Royals pitching staff, for the Indians to shrug off a slow start this season. The Indians started the season 1-4 after a couple of series losses to the Blue Jays and the White Sox at home. They then went out on the road to Kansas City, and their offense got healthy on Royals pitching. The Indians dropped 27 runs on the Royals in 3 games this weekend, winning them all. Cleveland’s offense has been relying on the long ball, with Jason Kipnis leading the way with 3 home runs thus far. Travis Hafner looks like he has found the fountain of youth so far, and Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santana are off to strong starts as well.
Kansas City Royals 3-6, 4th place
While the Royals might be exciting, they still are only going to be as good as their starting pitching. After the first turn through the rotation, one would’ve thought the Royals rotation wasn’t so bad. They got strong starts from Bruce Chen, Luis Mendoza, Danny Duffy, and Luke Hochevar. Second time through has been more of a struggle, as the Indians beat them up this past weekend. The Royals started a west coast trip 3-3, and then fell flat on their face at home this weekend.
The offense is going to have to carry this team, and frankly, their big guns are going to have to be better. Only Billy Butler is off to a real respectable start at .297 and a .910 OPS. Sophomore sluggers Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas are struggling a little bit, while newly extended Alex Gordon has gotten off to a 4-34 start. Let’s put it this way, when Yuniesky Betancourt is leading your team in OPS, there has been some slow starts by your key guys.
Minnesota Twins 2-7, 5th Place
Sorry Twins fans, not sure if you all were expecting much different. Yes, there is plenty of time to turn it around, but the starters aren’t very good, and the bullpen is worse. The offense is predicated on Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer having big years to be successful, and we are all just wondering when they are going to hit the disabled list. That being said, there has been some offense in Minnesota, but it’s been a two man show of Josh Willingham and Denard Span for the most part. Willingham is paying off so far, hitting 4 homers on the season already, and Span is hitting .389 at the top of the order for him. Until Mauer and Morneau show the pop they are capable of, it’s going to be an ugly season for Minnesota.
The best pitchers for the Twins so far are the more questionable ones, Liam Hendricks and Anthony Swarzak have been solid. It’s the trio of Carl Pavano, Francisco Liriano, and Nick Blackburn that are going to need to be much better than what they have been so far. But even if they are, the Twins bullpen could struggle. After all, the closer is Matt Capps.