Before the season began, there were question marks surrounding two specific American League Central teams – the Tigers and the Royals. The Royals were coming off of a World Series appearance, but they had lost both James Shields and Billy Butler. The Tigers are the defending division champions, but Justin Verlander was forced to start the season on the DL and there have been health concerns for both Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. When spring training wrapped up, the door seemed to be wide open for a team like the Indians or the White Sox to make an impression in the division. That hasn’t happened.
Scorching Start for Both
All the Tigers and Royals have done to start the season is go a combined 21-5 while outscoring their opponents by a total of 68 runs combined. Each team has thoroughly dominated their competition, and none of the other teams in the division are above .500 in the early going. Where it appeared that the division would be wide open heading into the summer, it now looks like it might be a two-horse race all season long.
Incredible Pitching by the Tigers
Even with Justin Verlander on the DL, the Tigers lead the American League having allowed just 36 total runs in 13 games. As would be expected, their offense has done the rest, already scoring 70 times in those 13 games while going 11-2. Cabrera has looked like the star that he is, and Victor Martinez has mostly picked up where he left off last season. Should Verlander be able to make a healthy and effective return to the rotation, the Tigers just may be the best team in the American League after all.
Surprising Royals Offense
Even during their run to the American League Pennant last season, the Royals were never a team that was intimidating at the plate. They used mostly speed and small ball to score a few runs, and then would turn a lead over to their dominant bullpen for the win. That recipe was a success last October, but so far this April, they have turned the offense up to a new level. Leading the league with 75 runs scored, the Royals have managed to combine excellent hitting with their reliable pitching. Just when everyone was ready to assume that the Royals playoff run was a one-year experience, they appear to be right back in contention for the 2015 campaign.