Saturday, April 16, 2011
AL Central turned upside down
Take a quick look at the AL Central standings and you're likely to do a double-take -- go ahead check one more time.
No it’s not a mistake -- through 14 games of the season the Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians are currently tied atop the division.
According to 10,000 simulations done by Accuscore entering this season, the Royals entered 2011 with a 0.7 percent chance to reach the postseason.
The Indians fell slightly below them with just a 0.6 percent chance, tied with the Pirates for the lowest in Major League Baseball.
While it may not last, here's why each of these franchises are headed in the right direction:
Kansas City Royals
• With -- by many accounts -- the best farm system in baseball, there was plenty of excitement about the Royals
However they are 10-4, off to their second-best start in franchise history, after defeating Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez.
They're being led by Alex Gordon and Billy Butler, two graduates of the Royals farm system.
Gordon, a 27-year old former first-round pick, entered the season as a career .244 hitter. He is enjoying an early breakout of sorts batting .373 in 13 games played.
Butler, hitting .373 as well, has hit over .300 in each of his last two seasons.
The Royals as a team having been tearing the cover off the ball, leading the American League in hits and runs scored.
• Everyone knows all about the Indians recent sell-offs including CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez.
The league is now just finding out about the players they got in return, in addition to other notable players they acquired along the way.
Justin Masterson, acquired in the Victor Martinez deal, is 3-0 and has pitched into the seventh inning in all three of his starts. He has only given up three runs in 20 ⅓ innings, striking out 12 and walking only four batters.
Asdrubal Cabrera, acquired in a deal for Eduardo Perez, had four home runs this season within the team's first 10 games. According to Elias, he was the first Cleveland shortstop with at least four homers over the season’s first 10 games since 1960, when Woodie Held had five.
Shin-Soo Choo, acquired in a deal for Ben Broussard, homered on Saturday to help up his batting average to .224 on the season. Despite the slow start to 2011, Choo has hit for a .300 average in each of his three seasons with the Tribe.
Essentially the entire Indians roster, in terms of key contributors, was acquired via trade and can be seen in the chart below.
The maneuvering has positioned the Indians for a surprising present and a potentially bright future.
-- Contributions made to this piece by Justin Havens