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AL Central: Jhonny Is Back
Posted by Stanley Gibson at 8/25/2008 1:15:00 PM
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Jhonny Is Back

AL Central Notes Ė August 25, 2008

Detroit Tigers

*Miguel Cabrera has posted a quietly solid season in Detroit but his owners will be the first to tell you how frustrating he can be with prolonged streaks of ineffectiveness. Recently, he has been what they paid a first round pick for. He is now hitting .311 with eight doubles, one triple, 12 homers and 43 RBI following the All-Star break. He is tied for second in both RBI and homers during that time. One of the main reasons for his recent success is his .396 batting make with RISP. If his earlier battles with the Indians could be an indication, he should have a nice series to start this week. He is hitting .385 with three doubles, six jacks and 19 RBI in his 12 games against the Tribe this year.

*Curtis Granderson is doing it all recently. He collected two walks yesterday in Kansas City and has at least one base on balls in seven of his last eight contests. The fantasy value here is clear with his speed (stolen bases) and the great lineup hitting behind him (runs scored.) He is doing it himself too, hitting .339 with 12 doubles, eight triples, seven homers and 23 RBI since June 20. He leads the AL in runs scored since the break.

*Placido Polanco had his second consecutive three-hit game and he now has 14 this year with three or more. He is tied for seventh in the AL with that number and since 2006, he is tied for second in all of baseball with 53 games of three-plus hits.

*Armando Gallaraga has been a nice pickup for a lot of fantasy owners and if you donít own him, you might not know how incredible he has been. He is third among all AL pitchers with a miniscule .219 batting average against and sixth with a 3.17 ERA. He leads all AL rookies with 12 wins and is second with 97 strikeouts. In his last 14 games, he is 8-2 with a 2.80 ERA. One reason for his success is his ability to strand runners in scoring position. Over his last 13 outings, he has limited foes to a .200 batting average with RISP (23 for 104). DYK: His 97 Kís ranks him 12th all-time among Tigers rookies. With three more he would be just the tenth rookie pitcher to record 100+ strikeouts.

*Itís not all big names coming out of the Tigers section today. Matt Joyce has quietly performed well in his last 130 at-bats. He is hitting .292 (38 hits) with 13 doubles, two triples, seven taters and 23 RBI since his recall from Triple-A on June 29. If you are looking for a cheap outfielder for the stretch run, take a look at Joyce.

Minnesota Twins

*Joe Mauer is strokiní it. He was 1-for-4 yesterday and now leads the AL with a .321 batting average (133 for 414). His hit streak grew to 16, a new career-high and during the stretch he is hitting .349 (22 for 63). Now, if somebody could just teach him how to off to a fast start, he would be amazing.

*Here is a good one, Nick Punto collected three hits yesterday and his hit-streak is now up to 12 games. During the streak, he is hitting .423 with six doubles, three RBI and 10 runs scored. Nine of the 12 games were multi-hit and his average now sits at .294 (up from .256). You know how much I have been loving Melvin Moraís second half, well, since August 12, Punto has the same amount of hits (22).

*The Twins are loving the ďCentury ClubĒ references and Justin Morneau got to 102 and trails only Josh Hamiltonís 115 in Texas and Ryan Howardís 108 this year. He is now just the second player in Twins history to record 100-or-more RBI seasons in three straight. The other? One Harmon Killebrew. Further, Killebrew had 11 seasons of 100+ and did it seven straight years (1961-1967). I canít really bet against Morneau having a few more, but four more consecutive and seven more total is a lot to ask of anybody. Remember, 90+ RBI is a very good season.

*The ball goes to Francisco Liriano again tonight, yet another guy who has possibly saved some fantasy seasons with his reclamation. He is 4-0 with a 1.14 ERA in four starts since his triumphant return to the Twins rotation. He has held opponents to .184 average against and has allowed just one long ball with to go with 20 strikeouts. That is a far cry form the 11.32 ERA he posted before his option to Rochester in April. He has a career high of 12 strikeouts, a feat he has accomplished twice in his career. Iíll be the over on this one by the time he hangs them up.

*I am going to stray from the fantasy world for this quick bit. Again, every once in a while I will do this to point out how in the world a team that on paper should have no business in the pennant race, is still in it this late. The Twins are doing with with timely hitting and not allowing free passes on the hill. Last night was the 17th game this season in which the Twins pitching staff did not issue a walk. Last year, they had 23 on the season and that led the league. Kevin Slowey has recently been drawing comparisons to another former Twinkie and WHIP-ace Brad Radke. Get this. In 32 career starts, he didnít allow a free pass in 18 of them, including yesterday.

Cleveland Indians

*On the heels of another strong performance you might start noticing a familiar name in a new place dropping off the board. Anthony Reyes, the guy who carved up the Tigers in Game One of the 2006 World Series for the Cardinals, and then fell out of favor quickly going 2-14 last year. A change of scenery was needed and he has delivered with a 2-1 record and a 2.22 ERA in 24.1 innings pitched so far in Cleveland. One troubling stat to go along with those solid numbers is the BB-K ratio of 11:10 so far. He has the ďstuffĒ, just needs that control to compliment it.

*Jensen Lewis has entrenched himself as the closer in Cleveland by converting six straight opportunities, which is a team-high. In 37 appearances this year, he has a 3.86 ERA. Not bad for a guy who was back and forth between Triple-A and the Majors all year long. My fearless prediction: Flame out real soon.

*Fantasy owners soil themselves at the mere thought of a 30/30 season. Grady Sizemore is well on the way. He hit his career-high 29th homer on Thursday of last week and is now just one homer shy of just the 14th American League season of 30 homers and 30 stolen bases. He would be just the second player in Indians history to do so (Joe Carter). Letís take a closer look at this. He is the only player in the AL right now with 25/25 and is the fifth quickest to the plateau in AL history (103 games). He also drove in seven runs that game and has 79 for the season, tied for 11th in the AL. He is on pace to drive in 99. Elias has something for us here: There has been only one player in Major League history to drive in 100 runs from the leadoff spot. Darin Erstad did it for the Angels in 2000.

*Sizemore isnít the only Indian doing it with the stick, SS Jhonny Peralta is finding his stroke, hitting safely in 36 of his last 42 games, batting .324 with 15 doubles, two triples, nine homers and 36 RBI during that time. He leads all AL shortstops with his 21 homers. Since his insertion into the clean-up spot in the order on June 22 he is hitting .323 with 22 two-baggers, 10 four-baggers and 42 RBI in 54 games. He is quietly having a top-three fantasy season at shortstop behind just Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes.

Chicago White Sox

*You donít need to read this blog to know that Carlos Quentin has been a hitting machine this year. I guess if you own him, it is just another pat on the back but he is attempting to become the first player in White Sox history to lead the Majors in home runs and first to top the AL since Dick Allen in 1974. His 36 homers lead the majors as of today and only Jim Thome (42 in 2006) and Allen (37 in 1972) had more in their first seasons with the Sox. He is on pace to top both with 45 homers which would be second in franchise history behind only Albert Belleís 49 in 1998. You think Ken Williams is happy with all of this for a minor league first baseman?

*Coming into the season, Alexi Ramirez was relatively unknown. Heíll come into next season as a highly touted second baseman. He is hitting .333 (103-for-311) with 14 homers and 53 RBI in 83 games since May 18. That ranks sixth in all the Major Leagues since that date. He has shown great power in his last seven games, with four homers and 15 RBI. Over the last month, he has been among the most productive in all of fantasy baseball second basemen.

*Are you still on the fence about Clayton Richard? Join the club. He takes the ball in their game today against Baltimore, starting in his home town. He looks to duplicate his last outing (6.0 IP, 0 ER against Seattle) and forget his previous two starts (11 earned runs). The reason for optimism isnít his one good start, but his 12-6, 2.48 combined stats between Charlotte (AAA) and Birmingham (AA) this year. DYK: He was a backup quarterback on Michiganís football team a couple years back.

Kansas City Royals

*Tonightís starting pitcher Gil Meche has been lights out since June 10th, going 7-1 with a 2.71 ERA in his last 14 starts. That ERA over that span is fourth best. The Royals are 11-3 and he has left 11 of the 14 games in a position to win. Opponents are hitting just .167 (12-for-72) with RISP during this stretch and just .218 overall, which is second-best in the AL. All of this from a guy who fantasy owners had to consider tossing to the curb earlier this season after starting with a 1-3 record and an 8.00 ERA in April. He started to turn things around April 27th and hasnít looked back. He has pitched well at home and has a tough task tonight against Texas.

*Zach Grienke struggled his last outing, a 10-3 defeat to Cleveland, going just 5.0 innings and allowing six hits and only one of five runs were earned. He is seeking his 10th win of the season on Tuesday. He currently ranks sixth in the AL with 147 strikeouts and has a pair of double-digit strikeout games (the first Royal since Kevin Appier circa 1997). Do you want my opinion? He is young and had nothing to play for, the Royals would be smart to limit his pitch count down the stretch and get him ready for future seasons.

*David DeJesus has had an up-and-down season and after an 0-for-10 series against Detroit, he has just two runs scored in his last 16 games. On the bright side, he is just one RBI shy of matching his career high (58) and is second in all of baseball with a .407 RISP (33-for-91).

*Another Royal with fantasy impact is closer Joakim Soria who pitched a scoreless frame in non-save situation yesterday. It was a welcome sight for his owners even though it didnít come with a save. His 33 saves this season still rank among the best in baseball, trailing only Brian Wilson (35), Joe Nathan (35) and K-Rod (50). His blown save on Wednesday in Cleveland was just his third in 36 attempts and had rattled off 10 straight going into that game. Fatigue might be setting in as it tends to do late in the season, but youíve come this far with him, donít bail now.

All statistical information was compiled by each teamís Media Relations staff. All comments that accompany these figures are only that of me and not the organization. Any information provided by the Elias Sports Bureau is noted in the article.

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