Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 7/16/13
When the Cleveland Indians agreed to terms with manager Terry Francona, I knew they were going to be a legit contender for the AL Central division title.   Midway through the season and I must admit that I am not surprised where things stand in the American League Central. The Detroit Tigers are in first place in the division, the Cleveland Indians are right behind them in the standings under new manger Terry Francona, and the Chicago White Sox are in last place, a position I thought they would be in after their unexpected second place finish last season. But those are just general statements of some of the teams in the Central, as I will now give you each teams mid-season report card grade. Detroit Tigers (52-42) 1st Place in Central- Grade (B+ ) The Detroit Tigers find themselves in a position they thought they would be in before the All-Star break: 1st place in the American League Central. The only problem is, they are only 1.5 games ahead of the second place Cleveland Indians. I find it difficult trying to explain why a team like the Tigers are only 10 games over .500 going into the All-Star break. They rank 1st overall in team batting average (.281), 2nd overall in on-base percentage (.348) and runs (477), and 3rd overall in slugging percentage (.437). Their pitchers have done their job also. Detroit Tigers pitchers rank in the top ten in quality starts, WHIP, and opponents’ batting averages. So the only answer I can come up with for this Detroit Tigers club only being 10 games over .500 is that both sides of the ball have been inconsistent throughout the year. And let’s not forget for a team that has playoff expectations, the Tigers have the shakiest closer situation in all of baseball. It doesn’t help that the Tigers are ranked as one of the top teams who have the highest percentages of blowing a lead going into the 7th inning and beyond. Cleveland Indians (51-44) 2nd Place in Central- Grade (A-) Welcome to the Francona effect Cleveland Indians fans. The moment I heard that the Indians reached an agreement with former Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona, I knew this team would be able to turn it around after their second-to-last finish the previous year in the division. It also helps when you have an All-Star pitcher such as Justin Masterson on your team who leads the MLB in shutouts (3) and is tied for 2nd in complete games (3). It also helps to be in the top ten in the MLB in runs scored, slugging percentage and on base percentage. With new acquisitions such as Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher, Mark Reynolds, Scott Kazmir, Drew Stubbs and Jason Giambi, from free agency and via trade, you can expect this 2013 Cleveland Indians team to compete with the Tigers for the division title until the end of the season. Kansas City Royals (43-49) 3rd Place in Central- Grade (C+) I figured that the Royals would be much improved from last year after adding depth to their starting pitching with players such as James Shields, Ervin Santana, and last year’s trade acquisition, Jeremy Guthrie, who they acquired from the Colorado Rockies. But after 92 games into the season, the Royals still find themselves below .500. Their staring pitching hasn’t really been the issue, since they rank 9th in the MLB in quality starts. It has been the Royals offense that has this team 8 games back of the first place Detroit Tigers. The Royals rank 14th in batting average, 19th in on base percentage, 24th in overall runs scored and 28th in slugging percentage. Those offensive numbers won’t cut it, even in the worst division in baseball. Minnesota Twins (39-53) 4th Place in Central- Grade (D+) Ron Gardenhire’s magic touch with making his no-named Minnesota Twins teams into legit contenders for the American League Central Division Title have long since faded away. In the entire MLB, his Twins ballclub ranks 29th in team ERA, 29th in team WHIP, 30th in quality starts, and 30th in opponents’ batting average. If it wasn’t for the Chicago White Sox and the Houston Astros, the Minnesota Twins would be finding themselves as the worst team in the American League. Chicago White Sox (37-55) 5th Place in Central- Grade (D-) The Only thing that is stopping the Chicago White Sox from getting a failure grade is All-Star pitcher Chris Sale; but his ballclub has failed on him. Sale has a 6-8 record with a 2.85 ERA. How can a pitcher have a losing record with the stuff and ERA Chris Sale has, you may ask? Well his team has given him an average of 2.76 runs per game, that’s how. Pretty disappointing if you ask me, especially for a stud like Sale. The White Sox as a team rank 29th in runs scored, 27th in on-base percentage and 24th in slugging percentage. Going into the All-Star break last season, the White Sox were ranked in first place in the American League Central with a 2.5 game lead over the second place Detroit Tigers. This season, if it wasn’t for those beat down Houston Astros, the White Sox would be the worst team in the American League.    
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Brady issues statement on Facebook after having suspension lifted

Don Orsillo reportedly asked to lie about being fired by NESN

Matt Cassel believes Bills will keep three quarterbacks

St. Louis police seize scalpers' World Series tickets to give to friends

Eli Manning happy Tom Brady will play NFL season opener

Phil Kessel has shed 13 pounds this summer

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Cam Newton addresses ‘gang’ photo on Instagram

Steelers defense is younger and faster but not better

Duke basketball to visit White House next Tuesday

Report: Cowboys have interest in Broncos RB Montee Ball

NFL owners to discuss changing Goodell's disciplinary role

Report: Eagles trade Matt Barkley to Arizona Cardinals

WATCH: Ben Revere gifted Matt Wieters a home run

Judge Sarah Thomas as an NFL official, not a female NFL official

Redskins skip Robert Griffin III in jersey countdown

Wisconsin vs Alabama preview

Simona Halep popular with fans who want to kiss her

Patriots planned on raising a "Brady banner on opening night

Braves and Phillies sucking at the same time is rare

Montana St. linebacker delivers bone crushing hit in opener

Despite loss, all eyes still on Jim Harbaugh, Wolverines

Kirk Cousins discusses what it’s like to be called ‘Kurt’

Playoffs or not, Bryce Harper is the NL MVP

Donald Sterling’s wife Shelly seeking alimony

Chicago Bears and Jay Cutler: A love/hate relationship

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Wisconsin vs Alabama preview

Tom Brady issues statement on Facebook

Robert Griffin III and a dream deferred

Best, worst surprises of NFL preseason

The Gospel Of Harbaugh prepares for its ultimate test of faith

Meet the Utah Utes, the pluckiest program in college football

Iman Shumpert will name daughter Iman Shumpert Jr.

Dallas company celebrates Romo with DirecTV 'crownies'

Top 10 storylines for Week 4 of the NFL preseason

Matt Williams is still hopelessly married to the idea of the closer’s role

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker