American League April Review

American League April Review

The 2017 MLB season is underway and the American League standings are showing that this season will be full of surprises and many ups and downs. The New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, and Houston Astros all lead their respective divisions. While the Toronto Blue Jays and Kansas City Royals are off to dismal starts, with the Royals currently on an eight game losing skid.

American League East

Standings

New York Yankees 15-7
Baltimore Orioles 14-8
Boston Red Sox 12-11
Tampa Bay Rays 12-13
Toronto Blue Jays 7-17

The Yankees lead the American League in numerous offensive categories with 36 home runs, 114 RBI, and a .804 OPS. They are being lead by early rookie of the year favorite Aaron Judge, who has 10 home runs and 20 RBI over 73 at-bats. He compliments that with a .301 average and the former 32nd overall pick in 2013 is on his way to being the Yankees first rookie of the year since Derek Jeter took home the honors in 1996. Their pitching is also performing great with a team 3.22 ERA, and a big part of that success comes from 23-year-old Luis Severino who has compiled a 3.00 ERA over 27.0 innings with 33 strikeouts.

The Orioles are looking to grab the top spot in the division in May and have had a stellar month of April. Dylan Bundy is anchoring the rotation in his first year as a full time starter. The fourth overall draft pick of 2011 has put together a fantastic April going 3-1 with a 1.65 ERA. Second baseman Jonathan Schoop is building off a breakout 2016 season beginning this year with a .293 average with five long balls and 15 RBI.

The rest of the AL East is a question mark. Despite a league best .273 batting average, the Red Sox are just one game over .500 and have seemingly lost the ability to hit the ball out of the park with a mere 14 home runs. Chris Sale is having a great year with his new club, but great pitching alone is not enough in the toughest division in baseball.

The Rays and Blue Jays strikeout too much, it’s simple as that. 248 and 216 strikeouts respectively rank first and second in the American League. Kevin Pillar has one of the best gloves in the game, but he’s also been the Blue Jays best player at the plate in April, with 31 hits and four home runs. The biggest disappointment in Toronto, and arguably the entire division, has been Jose Bautista. Signed to a one-year deal his .163 average is bad enough, but he has only hit a single home run in 86 at-bats. The outfielder has seven straight seasons with 20+ home runs and will need to play better if he aims to get a long term deal this off-season.

American League Central

Standings

Chicago White Sox 13-9
Cleveland Indians 13-10
Minnesota Twins 11-11
Detroit Tigers 11-12
Kansas City Royals 7-15

The White Sox have won six in a row, while the Royals have lost eight. Avisail Garcia is leading the offensive charge in Chicago with five home runs and 20 RBI to go along with a .376 average. This is only his third full season in the majors and the 25-year-old will be key in the success for the White Sox in 2017 and beyond. Their team 2.96 ERA also leads the American League despite a struggling start for ace Jose Quintana, who has gone 1-4 with a 5.22 ERA.

The Indians are hot on their heels though, and will continue to look towards Corey Kluber to build on his Cy Young worthy 2016 campaign. He went 18-9 with a 3.14 ERA over 215.0 innings with 227 K’s last year and has started 2017 in a similar fashion. Over five starts he has gone 3-1 over 34.1 innings with 37 strikeouts. As a pitching staff they have already amassed a league best 230 strikeouts. One player who needs to break out of a funk in May is Jason Kipnis. The Tribe’s infielder has yet to hit a home run, or drive in a run for that matter, after blasting 23 long balls and driving in 82 last year.

The Tigers are the only American League team with an ERA over 5.00 and a troublesome start for Justin Verlander certainly does not help their cause. The former second overall pick in 2004 has put together a Hall of Fame worthy career having pitched over 2,300 innings with 2,227 strikeouts. A 4.60 ERA is not what Detroit fans are accustomed to seeing from their ace and he’ll need to return to form in May for this team to excel.

Kansas City is a mess to be blunt. They rank last in the league in average (.205), runs batted in (54), and OPS (.594). There are only two players on the roster with more than ten RBI and similarly to Toronto, 2017 is becoming a lost season. The one thing they are doing right is defense, and their six errors and the fewest in baseball. If they can end this eight game losing skid and start hitting, they might be able to salvage their season, might.

American League West

Standings

Houston Astros 15-9
Los Angeles Angels 13-13
Oakland A’s 11-13
Texas Rangers 11-13
Seattle Mariners 11-14

The Astros have one of the best pitching staffs in all of baseball. Their 3.44 ERA ranks third in the American League and four pitchers have already surpassed 25 K’s this season. Dallas Keuchel is 4-0 with a 1.22 ERA and second year bullpen pitcher Chris Devenski has 32 K’s over 16.2 innings. Add in one of the most underrated outfielders in the league, George Springer, and Houston has all the tools to succeed. Springer already has seven home runs and 14 RBI this season, and the eleventh overall pick in 2011 is blossoming into a multi time All-Star.

Albert Pujols is closing in on history and is a good reason to tune into Angels games. He needs six home runs for 600 in his career and sits 61 RBI shy of 1,900. His career is winding down, but the Angels have a group that can allow it to finish with a playoff run.

The Oakland A’s have a 28-year-old, second year starter that has surprised many in the beginnings of the 2017 season. Andrew Triggs has a 4-1 record and 1.84 ERA over 29.1 innings. One month is not enough of an indication if he’s the real deal, but a quality start to your season does wonders in the confidence department.

Outside of the cycle by Carlos Gomez the Rangers have had an okay start to their 2017 campaign. Their 33 jacks are second in the league and an 11-13 record keeps them in the hunt. Seattle, on the other hand, can drive in runs but they have abysmal pitching. Their 110 RBI are second in the American League, but Felix Hernandez has looked like a shell of his former self, going from King Felix to Baby Prince Felix. He has given up ten or more hits in two of his starts and only went 2.0 innings in his last start giving up six hits for four earned runs.

The MLB season is only one month old, but some teams’ seasons may already be lost. More surprises are bound to come with stars on the verge of blossoming and others will unfortunately continue to underperform.

*All stats as of April 29,2017

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