Mediocrity, glitches and discomfort: The worst division ever in the AL Central weekend (2023)

By Zack Messer, Cody Stavenhagen and Aaron Gleeman

CLEVELAND - They stand in a triangle with every defender facing the night sky.

will brennanHe held up his hands to signal that he couldn't find the baseball, which he later described as "a feeling of hopelessness."Andres JimenezWith his back to home plate, he seemed convinced the outfielder had a better chance.Oscar GonzalezDash under the ball from his right field post.


Instead, it crashed to the ground 10 feet behind Gonzalez.

Andy IbanezThe man with a .293 on-base percentage, who slammed his bat into the dirt after what he thought was a fruitless swing, rushed to No. 2 with an RBI double.

Welcome to another weekend at the American League Center, home to the league's youngest, most inexperienced and saddest team, where on-court incompetence could reach historic proportions. 2023 quintet poised for worst overall record everMajor League BaseballThe era of division began in 1969.

thisguardian'outfield slip totigerCleveland took a 1-0 lead in Game 2 of Friday's doubles series, but Cleveland fought back in the eighth against the Tigers' two backup Nomads. After a long day of baseball, the teams split the double bill.

"We were upset for six hours," Cleveland coach Terry Francona said. "We were allowed to be happy for about ten minutes."

Mediocrity, glitches and discomfort: The worst division ever in the AL Central weekend (1)

Guardians outfielder Will Brennan lost track of the ball on Friday. (David Richard/USA TODAY)

Guardians back uptwinThe race for No. 1 in the AL Central has been on a tenuous pace, with a 1-3 record over the weekend giving the Guardians a six-game lead over the title. Calling it a close game wouldn't be right -- it's more of a room-temperature divisional game.

"Sometimes it can feel hot," said Guardian chairman Chris Antonetti. "There were moments when I think we realized we had a long way to go before we could be a championship team. We certainly haven't done our part to feel that way, but I'm not sure the Twins have either. This feeling."

Prior to this year, the 2018 season held the record for the worst division in history, when the AL Central had a (you guessed it) combined winning percentage of just .436. The AL Central has a combined winning percentage of 0.433 this year. Four of the five teams in the division have losing records, and their combined point differential is minus-334. only fourth placewhite socksThe salary ranking on the opening day was higher than 15th.

In Chicago, the team experienced a cultural implosion, a season marked by right hooks to the face repelled by their struggling shortstop in the Cleveland riots.

The last digit is 40-86royalsHas second-worst record in baseball, ahead of dismaloakland sports teams. Also available as a short staybobby witter jrThe Royals are like a rising star, haven't set a . 500 record since 2016, and show few signs of hope. MLB Pipeline recently ranked the Royals' farm system 29th out of 30 organizations, and the Royals don't have a single top-100 contender.

As for the department head?

The Twins are 65-60, six games ahead of the Guardians. Minnesota's roster has been underwhelming, ranking eighth in OPS and ninth in points per game among AL teams. But compared to their four-division rivals -- the lowest-scoring lineup in the league outside of Oakland -- the Twins look like a powerhouse, even if they have the potential to break the all-time MLB strikeout record. .

Mediocrity, glitches and discomfort: The worst division ever in the AL Central weekend (2)

Edouard Julien and the rest of the Minnesota Twins have reached near-historic speeds this season. (David Reginek/USA TODAY)

But even if they fail, it doesn't matter. Seven of the Twins' last 10 losses have come on days when the Guardians also lost, boosting Minnesota's chances of winning the division by removing one more game from each game's schedule.

In terms of vibe, it's like a basketball team before the offensive clock was invented. Or, maybe an inmate marks the days with a makeshift calendar carved into the cell wall. You don't have to worry about losing the game if every time you fall, the people behind you also fall.

That would at least explain why neither the Twins nor the Guardians seem motivated to come out as legitimate rivals at the end of Aug. 1. Even though the Guardians were one game away from the division lead -- and still below .500 -- they stretched the distanceAaron Sivalle,josh bellandAmed Rosario, causing riots in the clubhouse. That convinced Antonetti and general manager Mike Chernoff to fly to Houston the morning after the deadline to work things out with the frustrated players.


Minnesota's failure to make any trades at the deadline surprised players in the game, as bullpen help and a right-handed corner outfielder were needed all season. Those seemed like two cheap options, but the Twins stuck with it -- and watched their odds of winning the division actually increase.

Why? Because the other four teams are all salespeople.

“Obviously, we know very well what other clubs are doing,” said Derek Falvey, Twins president of baseball. "But it doesn't necessarily change our process. If (Cleveland) takes a different direction and signs two or three different players, does that change our process? I can't say that. I would say, our The point is: How can we best position this team to be successful this year and beyond?"

In other words, winning the AL Central in 2023 is important, but likely to do so without giving up any prospects that could help them win the division title in 2024 or 2025.

The Guardians have the league's top starter (ERA) since the All-Star break, a feat all the more impressive given their rotationNoah Syndergaardand four newcomers. That's not your brother's Noah Syndergard. Here's a lost soul with long blond hair disguised as a former ace.

Guardians sign Amed RosariododgersWith less than a week until the deadline, Syndergaard knew they needed another healthy body in the rotation. But Syndergaard has been looking for answers since his first day at the club, seemingly the least confident player on the pitching staff.

After last Wednesday's dismal performance in Cincinnati, the lone veteran in Cleveland's rotation offered a shockingly candid assessment of his struggles:
"Same day, different day. It felt like throwing a ball on roller skates. Every time I tried to use my legs, they just slipped off me.  … When my true love — baseball — was no longer It's hard for me to enjoy other things in life when I'm having a lot of fun."

Mediocrity, glitches and discomfort: The worst division ever in the AL Central weekend (3)

Noah Syndergaard's 5.06 ERA is actually an improvement over his 7.16 ERA with the Dodgers. (Mark Taylor/Getty Images)

Cleveland enters the season in rotationsean bieber,Triston Mackenzie,Carl Quintrier, Sivalai andZach Plessac. None of the five have played for the club this month. Mackenzie had two starts all season. Quantrill has been battling shoulder and ERA swelling. Bieber has missed the past six weeks with an elbow injury. Plessac has spent most of the season with Triple A.


However, the team's offense and bullpen held back its second straight league title. The young hitters haven't improved yet. No Assistant is immune to the occasional premature crash. Gone is the sprint style that brought the club 92 victories last year. Their 89 home runs were 24 fewer than any other team.

a few weeks ago,Ramon LaureanoBecause of his incompetence, he was selected by the A team, a typical representative of the baseball world.Cole CalhounHe gave Triple-A Oklahoma City the thumbs up. Now they are in the middle of Francona's lineup most nights.

"It might not be the ideal place for her," Francona said, "but that's where we are."

Neither Bell nor catcher Mike Zunino (the club's two winter free agents) have been with the team through the season. In mid-June, Zunino was fired. On Aug. 1, Bell was traded about two hours before the first game -- when the cutoff whistle blew -- while he was playing cards with teammates at the visiting Houston team's clubhouse.

Later that night, the Guardians were left without a hit by Flambelle Valdez.

On June 23, the Tigers were 32-41, but only 4 1/2 games behind the No. 1 Twins.

Tigers in longest playoff drought with MLBEngel, so the story about manager A.J. Hinch's team, mostly young, is more motivated than one might imagine. Local reporters have been asking about the situation for days, and finally Hinch has heard enough. manager who played with him in two world serieshouston astrosProvides a dose of reality.

"I'm just not going to let our team talk about (being involved or leading the standings)," Hinch said. "I didn't hear the words. ... I didn't want to hear it because I think there's a lot we need to do to get better before we can talk honestly like this. We haven't earned talking like this right. We just didn’t do it.”


Straightforward answers turned into a kind of tirade.

"You want to get to a place that matters and you want it to be broadcast nationally? You want to have a conversation where people aren't looking at us, not patting us on the head, we're a good team, working hard. right?" Hinch said. "Play better. Play better for a long time, beat some teams, and then you start getting the award. Until then, it's all going to be a distraction."

Regardless, this weekend's series opener between Detroit and Cleveland should air on Fox before it rains, though that may have more to do with the Hollywood writers' strike than the lure of a midweek national matchup force. Some teams compete for second place in baseball's weakest division.

The Tigers are now 7.5 games away from No. 1 (actually closer to the Guardians than the Guardians are to the Twins). The Tigers finished second behind Cleveland, a testament to the composition of the division's upper and lower echelons.

The White Sox, once considered the future powerhouse of the division, are 49-75 and have lost key players like starters.Lucas Giolitoat the close of the transaction. First-year coach Pedro Griffoll has been grappling with the club's problems that arose during the team's two unfortunate seasons under Tony La Russa as head coach. Kenyan pitcher Middleton traded after rescueyankees, he did an interview with ESPN in which he ripped up the White Sox culture.

Mediocrity, glitches and discomfort: The worst division ever in the AL Central weekend (4)

Perhaps the defining moment for the 2023 White Sox will be Jose Ramirez's punch, which knocks Tim Anderson to the ground. (Sue Ogroki/AP Photo)

In Kansas City, a dire season showed just how far the organization has come in J.J.'s new year. must go. Picollo serves as president of baseball operations and Matt Quatraro serves as manager.

These teams are stuck in place, down to earth, away from shore, with neither a clear upward trend nor a distinctly Astros-esque style. In a division plagued by rebuilding failures and persistent mediocrity, troubles have been compounded this year as MLB transitions to a balanced game schedule before the season. Each team now plays at least once a year against 29 other teams. As a result, the team has played only 52 games against division opponents. They played 76 games in previous years.

The Tigers are 25-15 against division opponents this season and are on track for their first record win since 2016 against rival AL Central. "Central," Hinch said Sunday in Cleveland. "Is this your goal?"

late Sunday afternoon,Eduardo RodriguezThe pitcher, who promptly turned down a deal with the rival Dodgers for personal reasons, threw 6 2/3 innings in a 4-1 win that brought Detroit back to the brink of the division hunt.

"I don't feel like we've been knocked out," Rodriguez told reporters ahead of his final start. "We had a chance to make the playoffs. That's why I decided to stay here. Right now, I just want to keep pitching and keep helping my team. I hope we can make it."

Yet Detroit is 32-52 compared to the rest of the league, including a dismal 5-20 against the AL East, baseball's strongest division.

"The reality is right now you have to be good against the entire league to win a division title," Hinch said. "Whether it's an anomaly or whatever, this year has shown us that it's great that we're good in the division, but the AL East hasn't been kind to us, and the rest of the division hasn't been kind to us."

Mediocrity, glitches and discomfort: The worst division ever in the AL Central weekend (5)

Veteran Dallas Keuchel delivered an unexpected moment of magic to overcome the mood in the AL Central on Sunday. (Jeffrey Becker/USA TODAY)

On Sunday, the Minnesota Twins passed the ball to another pitcher on the final inning.

Dallas Kocher— A former Cy Young winner whose fastball now averages 87 mph is a bearded left-hander who faced 36 at-bats with the Twins None of the hands hit - start vs.pirate

However, the 35-year-old Koecher's performance may have been his last significant performance in the majors. He was strong in 6 1/3 innings, helping the Twins hold on to six games in the divisional round with a 2-0 win. 65-60, Twins poised to challenge 2005parents(82-80) The least number of division championship wins. With the Tigers and Guardians going head-to-head this weekend, the division average is 8-9, and the .470 odds are a respectable achievement.

AL Central lives at the intersection of the absurd and the unfortunate, as evidenced by Kocher's unlikely escape and another drama Sunday on the shores of Lake Erie.

Second place: DetroitMatt WellingHit the ball over the third baseline. Cleveland'slogan allenandTaylor FreemanI focus on the ball, let it trickle down the line, and pray that it will roll into a foul.

The ball came to a complete stop in the hit, yet another reminder of the state of the game, series and season at the Midlands Center: slow progress, no development, disappointment, lots of stoppable power moving over encounters .

(Top image via Detroitcarey carpenterTwo goals against Cleveland on Sunday: Nick Carmet/AP Photo)


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