AL Central Rebound Candidates: Spring Update


About six weeks ago I put a couple of posts up here on MCB making the case that the 2011 AL Central was non-competitive largely because of 3 or 4 specific massive underachievers on each non-Tigers team. Any chances for contention by those teams would seem to hinge on significant rebounds from the culprits in their 2011 demises – since every one of those guys remains on their 2012 rosters. Remember that these aren’t the only or even the most important players on the teams – just those guys from whom more was expected and needed in 2011 who might actually provide that in 2012. We’ve seen enough of spring training now to get our first (highly preliminary) glance at how these players are faring, so lets get to it:

Cleveland Indians:
Grady Sizemore, Shin-Soo Choo and Ubaldo Jimenez
Sizemore is hurt and out, he might make a return at some point during the season or he might not. Choo has been hitting well, with a .321/.412/.607 line – though he has struck out 10 times already. Jimenez has been pretty awful in four spring starts, with 9 walks, 15 hits and only 6 strikeouts in 9 and 2/3 innings along the way to a 9.34 spring ERA. Had I gone to four for Cleveland and KC, the fourth culprit in Cleveland would have been Fausto Carmona – who hasn’t yet made an appearance in camp after restructuring his contract, age and identity.

Kansas City:
Mike Moustakas, Danny Duffy and Joakim Soria
There has been some ice on Moustakas’ bat, with a .452 spring OPS and zero extra base hits to date. Soria has been atrocious with an ERA of 18.90 in limited innings this spring, for KCs sake lets hope Soria hasn’t been trying very hard to get outs. Duffy has been pretty good, though KC has been spreading innings fairly thin. Still, they must consider the 3.60 ERA and 7 Ks to 2 walks in 5 innings encouraging. Had I gone to four, the fourth culprit in KC would have been ROY candidate Eric Hosmer (who has true star potential) and Hosmer has been as hot as Moustakas has been cold with a .361/.444/.611 spring line – and more walks (7) than strikeouts (4).

Minnesota Twins:
Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Matt Capps and Francisco Liriano
Last spring Liriano was having some minor arm trouble that – as it turned out – did not bode well for the season to come. So far this spring he has been very sharp, with a 2.77 ERA, 18 Ks and 2 walks in 13 innings pitched. Capps has been relatively good as well, with a 1.80 ERA and only one walk in five innings. On the offensive side, things don’t look so good for the Twinks. Mauer has a .614 spring OPS without a single extra base hit – which is still far better than Morneau who also lacks an extra base hit to his name but hasn’t had as many singles either giving him a meager .274 spring OPS. On the bright side (if you are a Twins fan) prospect Chris Parmelee might, might be ready to do a decent job filling in should Morneau not be up to it.

Chicago White Sox:
Adam Dunn, Alex Rios, Matt Thornton, Jake Peavy
Dunn looks (so far) like his old self again – with a .294/.478/.711 line this spring. Obviously this is a very small sample, but for a player who was as bad as Dunn was last year anything positive is a tantalizing suggestion that he might still be a major league hitter. Rios hasn’t fared as well and his .214/.258/.250 line suggests something of the opposite. Thornton has allowed only one baserunner in 3 spring innings, but Peavy has been knocked around a bit – with an 8.68 ERA so far.