I’m working on a piece today that analyzes the AL Central at the one-month mark. Cleveland is clearly the division’s X-factor. At 14-8, the Indians lead the division by 1 1/2 games over the Twins (14-11), but Cleveland essentially has five games in hand. They have four games to make up with Seattle after that early-season weather debacle, and now they have filed a protest with MLB over Saturday’s loss to Baltimore. Usually those things are filed in vain, but ESPN’s Buster Olney, for one, suggests this one might have a chance. He makes some good arguments today in his blog (subscription required).
Most protests have no reasonable chance for success, but if common sense prevails, the Indians will win this protest, because the precedent established by the umpires on Saturday would create such a dangerous gray area for how similar situations would be handled in the future.
If MLB gives Cleveland a chance to play this game over, from the point of the protest, the Indians could improve to 15-7. If they sweep Seattle in those makeup contests, they could be 19-7. That’s the worst-case scenario for the Twins. If Cleveland had that record, the Twins would be sitting 4 1/2 games back instead of 1 1/2.
Anyway, keeping an eye on the bigger picture, what are your thoughts on this division race at the one-month mark? What have been the surprises and disappointments? Look into your crystal ball and tell me how this is going to play out over the next five months.