Happy July 4th folks. Sorry there was no Smack Dab in the American League Central piece last week. To make up for that, this week’s edition is supersized as the past two weeks are discussed. Consider it a special July 4th edition. One team in the AL Central is starting to take firm control while other teams are playing catch-up.
Chicago White Sox
The White Sox are starting to regain their footing in the AL Central. They began their stretch by taking on the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park and won three out of four games there. They then hosted the Toronto Blue Jays at U.S. Cellular Field and won another series by taking two out of three against the mighty Blue Jays. They continued their series winning streak as they took two out of three against the lowly Minnesota Twins and then capped things off by winning two out of three against the Houston Astros.
Stud of the Week: Tim Anderson
12 G, 56 AB, 9 R, 18 H, 4 2B, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 1 SB, 1 BB, 20 SO, .321/.333/.554
Since being called up, the young shortstop has brought a jolt of energy to the White Sox offense. He has taken over the leadoff spot and produced strong results in a small amount of time. The league will most likely catch up to him soon enough and he may soon see some tougher days as he is striking out an alarming 32.4 percent of the time so far and posting a mere 1.0 percent BB rate.
Dud of the Week: Miguel Gonzalez
2 GS, 0-2, 7.30 ERA, 12.1 IP, 13 H, 11 R/10 ER, 2 HR, 5 BB, 6 SO, 1.459 WHIP
Right now, the veteran right-hander is not holding his own. He’s leaving the ball over the plate and opposing hitters are going to town on him. The White Sox need to him to stabilize the back-end of the rotation, and if he continues to struggle, they may need to find another starting pitcher at the deadline as the White Sox have no intention of waiving the white flag.
The Indians had quite the two-week stretch. They were able to defend their home turf by sweeping the Tampa Bay Rays at Progressive Field, then went on their second 10-game road trip of the month. They continued to roll as they took care of business by sweeping the division-rival Detroit Tigers and then dispatched the Atlanta Braves in a three-game sweep at Turner Field. They then made their way to the Rogers Centre. They won the first two games of a four-game series and set a new franchise record for most consecutive wins at 14 games, breaking the old record in a 19-inning affair on Friday. The Blue Jays flexed their muscles and took the next two games, forcing the Tribe to settle for a split, but Cleveland still ended their road trip going 8-2.
Stud of the Week: Carlos Santana
12 G, 45 AB, 10 R, 15 H, 4 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 1 SB, 5 BB, 8 SO, .333/.400/.622
The switch-hitting slugger is starting to heat up. He’s swinging for more power and driving in more runs. That’s a huge deal if this team hopes to keep playing a hot stretch of baseball as it’s not one guy who’s carried the offense, it has literally been a team effort.
Dud of the Week: Yan Gomes
7 G, 28 AB, 2 R, 6 H, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 0 BB, 8 SO, .214/.214/.357
The Indians catcher has continued to struggle. He is swinging at pitches out of the zone and still struggling to see the ball. The biggest things he has done at the plate this year is hitting home runs, but he is still looking like a black hole at the bottom of the lineup.
The Tigers got things rolling by sweeping the Seattle Mariners out of Comerica Park in a four-game series. The Indians then came and stopped their momentum by sweeping the Tigers at Comerica. The Miami Marlins then paid a visit for a short two-game series and the Tigers swept the Marlins. The Tigers then traveled to Tropicana Field to take on the Rays in a three-game set and swept the Rays with ease. Aside from their struggles against the Indians, the Tigers had a very good two-week stretch.
Stud of the Week: Cameron Maybin
12 G, 40 AB, 10 R, 15 H, 3 2B, 9 RBI, 1 SB, 5 BB, 7 SO, .375/.435/.450
The Tigers had a huge question mark at the center field position at the start of the season. Maybin has all but answered those questions as he has delivered nothing but positive results. He has been able to spray the ball all over the field and get clutch base hits. Being able to solidify the top of the lineup is a huge relief for the Tigers.
Dud of the Week: Jordan Zimmermann
2 GS, 0-1, 10.24 ERA, 9.2 IP, 18 H, 12 R/11 ER, 2 BB, 6 SO, 2.069 WHIP
The veteran right-hander has struggled these past two weeks. His strikeout numbers have been slowly dipping the past past few years, and they are now at an all-time low as he is averaging a mere 5.6 SO/9 ratio. His fastball has lost life, and his pitches aren’t nearly as deceptive as they were at the beginning of his prime. He’s not looking like the front-of-the-rotation pitcher the Tigers hoped they would get when they signed him.
Kansas City Royals
Things got off to a shaky start as the Royals were swept in a two-game series at Citi Field against the New York Mets. They then dropped a three-game series against the Astros at Kauffman Stadium but were able to avoid a sweep. They then played a four-game series against their state rivals the St. Louis Cardinals, with two games at home and two games at Busch Stadium. The Royals ended up winning the series as they took three out of four against the Cardinals. Things went south as they traveled to Citizens Bank Park to face the Philadelphia Phillies, where they ended up losing the series as they lost two out of three.
Stud of the Week: Kendrys Morales
11 G, 38 AB, 9 R, 19 H, 3 2B, 6 HR, 13 RBI, 3 BB, 7 SO, .500/.537/1.053
After an incredibly slow start to the season, the veteran slugger has finally awakened. He is absolutely locked in right now and is destroying the baseball. Him swinging a hot bat is key for the Royals to keep pace in the highly-competitive AL Central.
Dud of the Week: Joakim Soria
4 G, 0-1, 4.91 ERA, 3.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R/ER, 2 HR, 1 BB, 2 SO, 0.818 WHIP
The Royals were hoping Soria could help bridge the gap in the bullpen with their closer lost for the year, but the veteran right-hander has not been as dominant as they were hoping. He doesn’t throw nearly as hard as Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis and that shows as batters seem to be having more luck against him than his two late-inning counterparts.
The Twins had a decent stretch these past two weeks. They hosted the Phillies at Target Field and won two out three against them. They then traveled to Yankee Stadium to face the New York Yankees and lost two out of three. Minnesota then traveled to the South Side and face their division rivals the White Sox and dropped another series by losing two out three. They were able to turn things around by beating the visiting Texas Rangers in a three-game series by winning two out of three. With their postseason hopes over, it is important they can keep their young core healthy but also see them produce at a high level.
Stud of the Week: Brian Dozier
12 G, 45 AB, 12 R, 18 H, 4 2B, 2 3B, 5 HR, 15 RBI, 3 BB, 8 SO, .400/.429/.911
The veteran second baseman has finally arrived. For the first two months of the season he looked completely lost at the plate and the Twins were getting nothing out of him. He finally seems to have snapped out of it and is tearing the cover off the ball as he’s hitting for both average and power.
Dud of the Week: Byung-ho Park
5 G, 16 AB, 2 R, 0 H, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 10 SO, .000/.105/.000
The slugger from South Korea has hit rock-bottom. After getting off to decent start, opposing pitchers have figured him out as he is badly outmatched at the plate. Things have gotten so poor for the rookie slugger that the Twins have optioned him to Triple-A Rochester in order for him to work on some adjustments that will hopefully translate at the major-level and reignite his bat.