Up is down and down is up. Left is right and right is left. That’s how the season has started in the AL Central. Anticipated cellar dwellers Cleveland and Kansas City are pacing the division while Detroit and Minnesota are unexpectedly looking up at everyone else. Apparently the White Sox didn’t get the memo, but it’s not like they’ve ever listened anyway.
If you are in a fantasy baseball league, chances are your league considered week 1 to include the games played from Opening Day (March 31st) through yesterday (April 10th). We chose, for the most part, to follow suit here.
Every Monday going forward, writers from each of the site AL Central FanSided sites (Deep Left Field, Kings of Kauffman, Motor City Bengals, Puckett’s Pond and Southside Showdown) will collaborate to put this weekly column together. Puckett’s Pond has the privilege of hosting the first edition of this series, but future installments will rotate through all of our sites. To keep things logical we’ve chosen to use the 2010 AL Central standings to determine our order, so next week you can find our Week in Review over on Southside Showdown. Don’t worry, on those weeks when The Pond isn’t the host site, I will drop a link to it as soon as it is published so you can check it out wherever it happens to be.
1st Place: Cleveland Indians
- Record to start week: 0-0 / Record to end week: 7-2
- Hottest Hitter: Asdrubal Cabrera – Leads team with 3 home runs and 9 RBI. 3 home runs matches his total from last season. Orlando Cabrera is a close second with 7 RBI.
- Hottest Pitcher (starter): Justin Masterson – Masterson and Josh Tomlin are the only starting pitchers on the staff who are 2-0. He gave the Indians their first win of the year last Sunday against the White Sox. He has a 1.35 ERA in 13.1 innings. He also has 9 strikeouts with all of those coming in his second start.
- Hottest Pitcher (pen): This is not a single pitcher, but a 7-8-9 inning combination. It consists of Rafael Perez, Tony Sipp, and Chris Perez. Both Rafael Perez and Tony Sipp have allowed 0 runs so far this year. They have also only allowed 1 hit apiece. Rafael Perez is now 2-0 on the year. Chris Perez has four saves on the year, which puts him at 4 for 4 on the year. He has not allowed a run and has struckout 3 in 5 innings.
- Coldest Hitter: Austin Kearns. This would have been Shin-Soo Choo, who started the year 1-16, but he has since woken up and has 7 hits on the year. Kearns splits time in left with Travis Buck, which has resulted in him only playing 5 games. Still, he only has 2 hits in 14 at bats. He should break out of his slump once he receives more playing time.
- Coldest Pitcher (starter): Mitch Talbot – He gets this by default because he had the worst outing during the win streak. Fausto Carmona had a terrible opener, but he came back on Thursday to allow 0 runs en route to an Indians 1-0 win over the Red Sox. Talbot only went 4.1 IP in his only start of the year. The Indians won the game, so his poor outing did not affect the outcome. He pitches on Monday in Anaheim.
- Coldest Pitcher (pen): Chad Durbin – He has pitched in 4 games, but has only been in for 2 innings. He has only allowed 2 runs, but they seem to come at inopportune times. On Sunday, he allowed a home run that let the Mariners get within striking distance. He was quickly removed by Manny Acta. Besides Durbin, Justin Germano is the only other reliever who has had much trouble this season. He allowed 4 in the opener.
- Week MVP: The 7-8-9 combination of Perez, Sipp, and Perez. They have allowed a combined 0 runs in a combined 14 innings. They are beginning to rival the end of the game rotation in New York of Soriano, Chamberlain, and Rivera. Their success is key to the Indians winning streak.
- This week’s opponents: Monday-Wednesday at Anaheim Angels / Friday-Sunday home vs Baltimore Orioles
- The Indians are off to their best start since 2003 and many fans are very excited. They are 7-2 and just finished their second series sweep in a row. After a 15-10 loss on opening day and a 8-3 loss the second game against the White Sox, they have figured things out. During their 7 game win streak, the most runs they have allowed in a game is 4. Travis Hafner is back to his pre giant contract self with 6 RBI and 2 home runs to start the year. The starting pitchers are also doing great, with everyone except Talbot having at least one impressive outing. The bullpen, led by Rafael Perez, Tony Sipp, and Chris Perez, is coming in and finishing the job. They should continue their winning ways when they go against the Angels this week. They may run into trouble against the red hot Orioles on the weekend.
- Transactions: none
- Injuries: Grady Sizemore and Joe Smith have started their minor league rehab assignments. Third baseman Jason Donald is also beginning to rehab his left hand injury.
t-2nd Place: Chicago White Sox
- Record beginning of week: 0-0 / Record end of the week: 6-3
- Hottest Hitter: Carlos Quentin went 3-for-4 with a 2b, HR and 5 RBI on Opening Day as the White Sox beat the Indians 15-10.
- Hottest Pitcher (starter): Edwin Jackson struck out 13 Rays over eight innings to ring in the home opener on 4/7. He has a 1.93 ERA through two starts and is the hottest free agent in your fantasy league.
- Hottest Pitcher (pen): Err…yeah, about that. I guess Sergio Santos, who hasn’t allowed a run in 5 2/3 innings this season.
- Coldest Hitter: Alex Rios, who has fewer hits than A.J. Pierzynski. A.J. Pierzynski.
- Coldest Pitcher (starter): Mark Buehrle, who has been kicked around at times in each of his two starts, yielding 16 hits and 9 runs in 11 innings. Still, the White Sox won both of his starts.
- Coldest Pitcher (pen): Will Ohman (7 R in 4 1/3 IP) was the guy until Matt Thornton gave up five runs to the then-winless and still offensively anemic Rays. He’s blown his only two save opportunities and has given up runs in all three appearances.
- Week’s MVP: Paul Konerko, who had hits in every game and RBI in all but one. He’s has a 1.149 OPS with 3 HR and 11 RBI.
- Opponents for upcoming week: vs. Oak (4/11-4/13), vs. LAA (4/15-4/17)
- Summary: The White Sox have scored 62 runs, more than any team in the Majors, despite losing Adam Dunn (appendix removed) for five games and counting. Their pitching has been spotty at times, but masterpieces by Jackson and Gavin Floyd give much reason for optimism. Gordon Beckham and Juan Pierre have jumpstarted the offense and the middle of the lineup has done tons of damage behind them. Offense and timely pitching is carrying them so far, but the bullpen needs to shape up in order for the Sox to be elite.
- Transactions: Designated OF Lastings Milledge for assignment, purchased contract of RHP Jeff Gray
t-2nd Place: Kansas City Royals
- Record, beginning of week 0-0 / Record, end of week 6-3
- Hottest Hitter: Billy Butler – .394/.512/.667, 2 HR, 7 BB, 7 RS, 5 RBI,
- Hottest Pitcher (starter): Jeff Francis – 13.2 IP, 1.98 ERA, 8 K 2 BB
- Hottest Pitcher (relief): Aaron Crow – 6.1 IP, 8 K 1 BB 0 RA
- Coldest Hitter: Mike Aviles – .115/.179/.346
- Coldest Pitcher (starter): Kyle Davies – 2 GS, 9 IP, 9.00 ERA, 7 BB
- Coldest Pitcher (relief): Sean O’Sullivan – 4 IP, 11.25 ERA
- Week’s MVP: Alex Gordon – .357/.400/.548 15 H, 9 RS, 5 2B, 3 assists
- Opponents for coming week: at Minnesota (2), vs. Seattle (4)
- Summary: The Royals started their season with their first four wins coming in their last at bat, including two walkoff homeruns and had three extra inning games. The team showed rare patience compared to Royals teams of the past and the hot start of Alex Gordon gives fans hope that he’s finally figured things out. While the starting rotation hasn’t been great, the bullpen (with the exception of O’Sullivan and one bad third of an inning from Joakim Soria) has been lights out – and mostly populated by rookies. Tim Collins and Aaron Crow both received their first major league victories in the first week of the season. Alcides Escobar‘s defense has allowed Royals fans to forget the ghost of Yuniesky Betancourt.
- Transactions: Signed RHP Jeff Suppan and assigned him to Triple A Omaha
- Injured: C Jason Kendall – 15 day DL (shoulder), RHP Henry Barrera – 60 day DL (elbow), OF Brett Eibner (Low A) – strained ligament in left hand (TBA), OF Lorenzo Cain (Triple A) – slight groin strain, 7 day DL
- Now healthy: OF David Lough (Triple A) – collided in the field with Paulo Orlando in opener but has returned to action
t-4th Place: Detroit Tigers
*John did his write-up based on the actual calendar week (4/4-4/10)*
- Record beginning of week: 1-2 / Record end of the week: 3-6
- Hottest Hitter: Alex Avila .333 (6-for-18) 3 HR 7 RBI
- Hottest Pitcher (starter): Justin Verlander 1-0 3.86 ERA. 8.0 IP 4 H 3 ER 9 K 1 BB
- Hottest Pitcher (pen): Joaquin Benoit 0-0 0.00 ERA 2 G 2.0 IP 0 H 0 ER 1 K 0 BB
- Coldest Hitter: Austin Jackson .179/.179/.214 (5-for-28) 1 2b 0 BB 7 K 1 GiDP
- Coldest Pitcher (starter): Rick Porcello 0-2 9.00 ERA 10.0 IP 18 H 10 ER 6 K 4 BB
- Coldest Pitcher (pen): Enrique Gonzalez 0-0 2 G 2.1 IP 5 H 5 ER 2 K 1 BB *inherited two runners this week, both runners scored
- Week’s MVP: Alex Avila. Because someone has to be I suppose. After losing two consectutive series this week, there really shouldn’t be anyone getting this award.
- Opponents for upcoming week: Texas comes to Comerica Park for three afternoon games starting on Monday. The Tigers travel to Oakland for a four-game series beginning Thursday night.
- Summary: The Tigers opened the week by losing the first game in Baltimore, after taking game two they held a lead into the 7th inning of the finale but a bullpen implosion cost the Tigers the series. A win against the Royals on Friday looked good but there was zero offense in support of Phil Coke on Saturady and poor pitching put the Tigers in a hole on Sunday. The final result is two series against clubs that should not be as good as the Tigers and sadly only two wins to show for the six games. It’s not going to get easier for the Tigers with Texas coming to town before Detroit heads west to take on Oakland. The middle relief is a mess and 40 percent of the rotation can say the same thing.
- Transactions: Recalled RHP Robbie Weinhardt from AAA Toledo
- Injured list: RHP Ryan Perry- 15-day DL (infected eye) retroactive to April 5.
t-4th Place: Minnesota Twins
- Record beginning of week: 0-0 / Record end of the week: 3-6
- Hottest Hitter: Denard Span (0.286/.342/.400, 107 OPS+) – He is the only player on the roster with an OPS+ above 100 so far this season.
- Hottest Pitcher (starter): Nick Blackburn (1-1, 0.77 ERA, 1.286 WHIP, 11.2 IP, 548 ERA+) – For the starting rotation, Blackburn parallels Span as he is the only pitcher of the five to have an ERA+ above 100.
- Hottest Pitcher (pen): Matt Capps (1-0, 1.80 ERA, 0.600 WHIP, 5.0 IP, 244 ERA+)
- Coldest Hitter: Everyone outside of Span. As a team the Twins are hitting 0.214/.266/.288 and rank 13th in the AL in all 3 of those categories.
- Coldest Pitcher (starter): Francisco Liriano (0-2, 7.71 ERA, 1.714 WHIP, 9.1 IP, 55 ERA+) – He has issued 8 walks in his first 2 starts to go along with 8 hits allowed, 8 strike outs and 8 earned runs.
- Coldest Pitcher (pen): Dusty Hughes (0-0, 7.36 ERA, 1.636 WHIP, 3.2 IP, 61 ERA+) – In fairness, after giving up 3 ER in 1 inning on Opening Day, he’s righted the ship and has not allowed an earned run over his next 3 appearances.
- Week’s MVP: Based on expectations heading into the season, Nick Blackburn has been without a doubt the team’s MVP so far.
- Opponents for upcoming week: vs Kansas City Royals (2), at Tampa Bay Rays (4)
- Summary: Week 1 certainly didn’t exactly go as planned. Outside of Nick Blackburn, the rotation struggled. The bullpen, especially based on expectations heading into the season, has been solid, but Kevin Slowey was lost to the DL. Capps, Mijares and Perkins have all been excellent. Joe Nathan is still shaking off the rust but is 3/3 in save opportunities. What has let the team down more than anything, has been the offense. Perceived to be Minnesota’s strength before the season began, the Twins have scored only 24 runs through their first 9 games.
- Majors: Recalled 2B-Luke Hughes and RHP-Alex Burnett from Rochester to take the roster spots of Nishioka and Slowey who were place on the 15-day DL.
- Minors: Placed RHP-Anthony Slama (4/6) and LHP-Ryan Mullins (4/6) on the 7-day DL. Toby Gardenhire (4/9) was assigned to Rochester (AAA) from New Britain (AA).
- Injured list: 2B-Tsuyoshi Nishioka (Fractured left fibula), RHP-Kevin Slowey (Shoulder strain)