Originally posted on Bloguin Best  |  Last updated 5/25/12

Chicago White Sox

Hitters: C-. It is a minor miracle that this team has scored 193 runs. For most of this season, they've had two full-time starters, Brent Morel and Alexei Ramirez, who currently have sub.500 OPS. And then there is Gordon Beckham and Dayan Viciedo who play almost everyday with OBPs well under .300. Yet, they lead the division in runs scored. You can credit Paul Konerko and the rejuvenated Adam Dunn for pretty much all of that.

Pitchers: B-. Jake Peavy looks like he has found the fountain of youth and is an early contender for Comeback Player of the Year, assuming he can stay healthy. The emergence of Chris Sale in his first year as a starter, not counting his weird temporary shift to the bullpen, has given Chicago one of the best top two starting pitchers in all of baseball. After them though, things get ugly. Gavin Floyd continues his streak of having an ERA much higher than his peripherals suggest it should be. John Danks has been miserable and Philip Humber's perfect game early in the year might be the only reason he is still in the rotation. When Robin Ventura isn't playing musical chairs with the closer role, the White Sox have gotten quality from the bullpen.

Intangibles: F. This is all about manger Robin Ventura. He was hired despite no managing experience and it has showed. In particular, his lineup construction, bizarre flip-flopping with naming a closer and the strange way in which they have handled Chris Sale have raised a lot of eyebrows. The team is winning, but it seems like it is doing so in spite of Ventura's machinations sometimes. However, it might actually be a good sign because it could lead to the team improving once Ventura gets comfortable in his role and gets out of his own team's way.

Overall: C. It is hard to imagine that their offense won't crater soon with all the out machines they have surrounding Konerko and Dunn, so South Side fans should enjoy this squad being over .500 while they can. If Jake Peavy comes back to earth too, things could get real bad in a big hurry for the Pale Hose.


Cleveland Indians

Hitters: B-. If you thought Asdrubal Cabrera's breakout 2011 season was a fluke, so far you are very wrong. Believe it or not, he has been even better this year with a .913 OPS and looking every bit like a franchise player. Lump him in with young catcher Carlos Santana and even younger second baseman Jason Kipnis and the Tribe has a great core up the middle of he diamond. What they don't have is a lot to surround them with. Shin-Soo Choo is getting on base, but showing almost no power. But what really seems to be hurting the lineup is the total lack of balance seeing how the only true right-handed batter that gets significant playing time is Shelley Duncan, and he's been totally unproductive.

Pitchers: C+. The rotation has been a mixed bag for Cleveland with their best performers being the most unlikely ones. Derek Lowe looked like he was pitching with a fork in his back for Atlanta last season, but he has a sparkling 2.15 ERA for Cleveland thus far. Behind him, Jeanmar Gomez has found a lot of early success as well, which is good news because the guys who were supposed to front the rotation, Ubaldo Jimenez and Justin Masterson have been bitter disappointments, both with ERAs just above 5.00. What has been a major factor in the Indians' overachieving in the first part of the year is their strong relief work. As maligned as he is by his home fans, Chris Perez has posted strong numbers and blow just one of his 16 save chances. But what has made life really easy for Perez is that the trio of Joe Smith, Vinnie Pestano and Nick Hagadone have all been fantastic in middle relief to get Perez all those leads to protect.

Intangibles: D. Perhaps even more than the Orioles, the Indians seems like the AL division leader most poised for a fall. This is not a deep team but, with the constant exception of Grady Sizemore, they haven't really had to deal with many injuries yet. When they do, they could be in trouble as they have already shown how desperate tehy are to add talent when they signed Johnny Damon. Even if the injury bug continues to avoid them, the unbalanced lineup seems like it will continue to hold back the offense and the rotation will start dragging the whole team down if/when Derek Lowe remembers that he is 39 years old and supposedly washed up.

Overall: B+. The Indians have been a pleasant surprise to start the year, just like last season, but look like they could be come back to the pack pretty quickly, just like last season. They may be eight games over .500 but they are also sitting on just a +1 in run differential. That is a bad omen for their continued success, but for now, it is good enough to lead the AL Central.


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