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Checking the pulse of the AL Central after one month

The Twins are the only team with a winning record. The Royals avoided the cellar.

MLB: New York Yankees at Kansas City Royals Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

April is in the books, so let’s check in on how the Royals are doing compared against their American League Central brethren. Both the Twins and Guardians played 22 games with the White Sox and Tigers playing 21. Meanwhile, the Royals played 20.

How do things look? Well, a little surprising. The Twins lead things with a 13-9 record. The Guardians are three back, and then the White Sox, Royals, and Tigers are very much clustered in the remaining three spots.

But let’s take a closer look at each team, going from top to bottom. All records and stats are from the end of the day on May 1.

Minnesota Twins

Record: 13-9, +23 run differential

April Highlight: Despite missing eight games, Byron Buxton tore through April. He leads the team in runs scored (13), home runs (7), slugging percentage (.755), OPS (1.100), OPS+ (221) and total bases (40) while he’s tied for the team lead in RBI (12) and stolen bases (1). Sure, he’s struck out 18 times and walked just twice and he’s missed time for injury, but he’s making up for those issues. With Carlos Correa starting slowly, Buxton, the former No. 2 overall draft pick, is more than picking up the slack.

April Lowlight: With Buxton on the shelf, the Twins lost two of three in Kansas City while combining to score just four runs over the course of the series. Buxton returned for that third game, a 1-0 victory, which kickstarted a seven-game winning streak. But the Twins offense has looked incredibly lost without its mainstay in centerfield.

May Series to Watch: The Guardians come to Minneapolis for a weekend series beginning on May 13. Right now, that’s a battle between the top two teams in the division. In all, the Twins are set to play 29 games in May with 18 against divisional foes.

MLB: Cleveland Guardians at New York Yankees
Steven Kwan making contact. Because of course.
Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Guardians

Record: 10-12, +7 run differential

April Highlight: Before the season began, there was a lot of talk about numerous AL Central rookies, from Kansas City’s Bobby Witt Jr. to the Detroit duo of Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene. No one, it seemed, talked much about Cleveland’s rookie left fielder, Steven Kwan, who’s slashing .340/.439/.472 with more walks (9) than strikeouts (6). Alongside Jose Ramirez, second-year first-baseman Owen Miller, and fellow rookie Andres Gimenez, the 24-year-old Kwan is keeping the Guardians afloat.

April Lowlight: Looks like Cleveland has given up on two young guys once thought to be future cornerstones as the team designated lefty pitcher Logan Allen and first baseman Bobby Bradley after they both struggled in April. Hopefully both Allen and Bradley can land on their feet somewhere, but it appears that won’t be in Cleveland.

May Series to Watch: The Guardians welcome the Blue Jays for a four-game series starting May 5. Toronto’s team is currently 15-8 but 1.5 games behind the Yankees in the American League East. With the Yankees looking pretty stout this month, the Blue Jays are going to have to beat up on teams like the Guardians to keep pace. The Guardians, meanwhile, need to steal games from teams like the Blue Jays, favorites to make the playoffs.

Chicago White Sox

Record: 8-13, -24 run differential

April Highlight: From the start of the season through April 16. On that day, the White Sox beat the Rays, 3-2, to improve to 6-2 on the season. Jose Abreu hit a homer and drove in two runs while Chicago pitchers limited the Rays to a total of five hits while striking out a dozen and walking four. Things...haven’t been great since.

April Lowlight: Everything after April 16. Starting the next day, the White Sox went into a skid, losing eight in a row and 11 of their last 13. In a doubleheader on April 20 against the Guardians, things went especially poorly, as the White Sox managed just two runs all day, getting crushed in the first game, 11-1, partially due to four errors, three by Tim Anderson, and then losing 2-1 in the second.

May Series to Watch: On May 4 (Cinco de Cuatro, if you will), the White Sox take on the Cubs in a two-game series at Wrigley. Right now, the Cubs have an ever-so-slightly better record, at 9-13. The White Sox need to get back to winning, and there’s no better way of doing that than taking down one’s crosstown rival.

Kansas City Royals

Record: 7-13, -34 run differential

April Highlight: Andrew Benintendi is playing great baseball right now, leading the club in hits (26), RBI (10), batting average (.366), on-base percentage (.418), slugging percentage (.465), OPS (.883), and OPS+ (159). Great timing for the 27-year-old left fielder, too, as he’ll be hitting free agency after the season. That begs the question: what are the Royals doing to do with him? Is an extension in the future? Will they trade him this season? Or slap him with a qualifying offer in the offseason? A good problem for the Royals to have.

April Lowlight: Oh, there are several, but let’s stick with offense and focus on the rest of the lineup outside of Benintendi. Of the other eight starters, only Hunter Dozier has an OPS above the league’s average. Salvador Perez, Carlos Santana, and Whit Merrifield are all hitting below the Mendoza Line, as was Adalberto Mondesi before his ACL tear.

May Series to Watch: How about this weird three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals, with one game there and two in Kansas City? Sure, that first one is a makeup game, but I’m excited to see what M.J. Melendez can do after his call-up from Omaha. Surely he’ll play a bit the next three games before the team takes off for Baltimore. The present may be rough, but with Melendez joining Bobby Witt Jr. on the Royals, the future is closer than ever.

Detroit Tigers

Record: 7-14, -20 run differential

April Highlight: Miguel Cabrera joined the 3,000 hit club with a sharp single to right field on April 23. More impressively, he joined just six other players in the 3,000-hit, 500-home run club, those six being: Henry Aaron, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray, Rafael Palmeiro, Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez. Even more impressive, Miggy’s just a double away from 600 for his career, and he’d be just the third player with 3,000 hits, 500 home runs, and 600 doubles, joining Aaron and Pujols.

April Lowlight: After getting to 6-7 with a win over the Rockies in the first half of a doubleheader, the Tigers promptly dropped their next six in a row and seven of their next eight to fall to their current record. In those seven losses, the team only managed more than three runs twice. Detroit is not immune from the run-scoring drought plaguing baseball.

May Series to Watch: The woebegone Baltimore Orioles visit Motor City from May 13 through May 15. This series will pit two rebuilding organizations against one another to determine which is further ahead. Right now, the Orioles have the better winning percentage, yet it strongly feels like the Tigers are closer to contention. To contend, though, the Tigers must win a series like this one.

Poll

After one month, what team do you feel will win the AL Central?

This poll is closed

  • 53%
    Minnesota Twins
    (176 votes)
  • 9%
    Cleveland Guardians
    (30 votes)
  • 20%
    Chicago White Sox
    (66 votes)
  • 15%
    Kansas City Royals
    (51 votes)
  • 1%
    Detroit Tigers
    (6 votes)
329 votes total Vote Now