The AL Central is not a very good division this year. Just look at the standings as of Friday Morning. The Minnesota Twins lead the division with a 31-32 record, the Cleveland Guardians are second with a 29-33 record (1.5 games back), following them are the Chicago White Sox at 29-36 (3.5 games back), the Detroit Tigers at 26-24 (3.5 games back as well) and in last place is the Kansas City Royals at 18-44 (lowly 12.5 games behind).
This is the only division in all of baseball where all of its leaders have a record that is not above the .500 mark. Thus, it gives the Guardians a golden opportunity to contend for a playoff run despite the struggles throughout the first almost 70 games.
In the last seven games, the Guardians have a 4-3 record and have actually played relatively well in Minnesota against the Twins for four and at home against the Boston Red Sox for three.
The first two games of July were losses to the Twins at a 6-7 and 0-1 mark. This was followed by both a 4-2 win and a 2-1 victory. The team shifted back to Progressive Field and lost to Boston on the 6th by a score of 4-5, a 5-2 win and lastly a 10-3 beatdown of the Red Sox.
The schedule has three games at home against the Houston Astros (36-27), in San Diego for three against the Padres (29-33), and then at Arizona against the Diamondbacks for three (37-25).
Many criticize the Guardians for a lack of offense and that is very true throughout the course of this season. Sure, there have been a few games with abnormal victories with lots of runs scored, but any type of consistent offense hasn’t been there throughout this year.
After all, keep in mind there are 30 teams total, the Guardians are 21st in the league at a .238 team batting average, 26th in the league at a .304 on-base percentage, 28th in total run at 231, LAST in home runs at 39 and finally, 28th in slugging percentage at .359.
Sure, the Guardians remain only 1.5 games behind the first-place Minnesota Twins and that can allow them to make a run at the playoffs in the coming months. Even so, the numbers do not lie and if this team were to somehow find a way to make the playoffs, they will not have a chance without a collective offensive improvement.
The worst position offensively for Cleveland? Catcher. Just look at C Cam Gallagher with a .143 average, no home runs and only six runs batted in. Also, C Mike Zunino has a .190 average, three home runs, and 11 runs batted in. Absolutely awful numbers for a position that typically produces for an offense. Remember past Cleveland players such as Victor Martinez, Sandy Alomar Jr., or even Yan Gomes were better. All producers on offense as well as their role behind the plate.
The Guardians have the opportunity to make some moves before the trade deadline on August 1st, and that could be a position the team focuses on.
Overall, the window is still open for this club because of the lowly division it’s in. However, work needs to be done and any type of contention is going to take additions and improvements from everyone involved.
UPDATE: On Friday, the Guardians beat the Astros by a score of 10-9 in 14 innings. The team plays on Saturday night at 6:10 against those very Astros once again in Cleveland.
Image Via SI