The AL Central is Way Better than Advertised

Minnesota Twins, AL Central
Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Twins got off to a truly terrible start during their 2024 Major League Baseball regular season. At 7-13, the found themselves immediately out of what was expected to be amongst baseball’s worst division. A 12-game winning streak with consistent success later, and they’re in the thick of a division that has been much better than anticipated.

Through the first quarter of the season, it has been the Twins, Cleveland Guardians, Kansas City Royals, and Detroit Tigers that have all shown differing levels of competitiveness. While Stephen Vogt’s club has led the group from the get go, a Royals team that spent has remained in the thick of things, while A.J. Hinch’s Tigers have hovered around .500. Only the Chicago White Sox, which was to be expected, have been a complete disaster.

AL CentralRecordGB
Cleveland Guardians27-17
Kansas City Royals26-191.5
Minnesota Twins24-192.5
Detroit Tigers21-225.5
Chicago White Sox14-3013

Minnesota Twins Facing Tough Test in AL Central

If the Minnesota Twins are going to repeat as division champions in the AL Central then they’ll need to remain substantially more consistent than they have out of the gate. While the pitching staff has largely been unphased by the departures of Sonny Gray and Kenta Maeda, the lineup has missed productive stretches from Royce Lewis, Carlos Correa, and Byron Buxton.

Rocco Baldelli’s club hit and pitched their way back into competitiveness, but the schedule now starts to add in multiple divisional opponents. With a three-game set kicking off in Cleveland, and a four-game home series with Kansas City not far off, the Twins can do themselves plenty of favors when trying to distance themselves from those they are most closely connected to.

As of Friday, there are four teams within six games of the division leading Guardians. The only other division that currently has that many teams still competitive is the AL East, which includes four teams at or over .500. There’s nobody out there crowning the American League Central as the best division in baseball. But without a doubt, it’s far from the worst.

Offseason Narratives Are Hollow for AL Central

The talk of this offseason was about what every AL Central team failed to do, aside from the Kansas City Royals. Signing Seth Lugo and Michael Wacha never should have been viewed as organizational shifting deals, but with the Twins and Guardians failing to spend any real dollars, it was only the Kings of Kauffman that were given positive momentum.

Starting out the year, Kansas City made waves with their new acquisitions immediately showing up in the box score. Cleveland was dealt a big injury blow in the form of Shane Bieber, but the collective roster came to play just as they have always done with Jose Ramirez leading the way. It took some time for the Twins to join the party, but an ugly offseason never truly provided them with momentum out of the gate.

Now with the top three teams looking to separate themselves, it will be interesting to see who has staying power. Both Minnesota and Cleveland have been here before and are expected to remain as the best bets to make the postseason. While Kansas City seems likely to fade, it remains to be seen when, and how substantially that will happen.

The early action for most divisions across Major League Baseball is largely reflective of teams feeling each other out and trying to find their way. You really can’t win a division in the first couple of months, but the Chicago White Sox definitely lost the AL Central out of the gate. As Minnesota, Cleveland, and Kansas City settle in, it will be through the heart of the summer that they find their identities.

Related: What Does MLB’s New Statcast Bat Tracking Say About the Minnesota Twins?

As the Twins continue their ascent to the top of the AL Central, it appears likely that neither Cleveland nor Kansas City will bend over. The division might not have the top-tier talent expected from the American or National League East Divisions, but they are going to produce a team that will be a postseason force to be reckoned with.

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