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MLB

AL Central Power Rankings: Post-Deadline Edition

Jose Ramirez #11 of the Cleveland Guardians reacts in the fourth inning during the game between the Cleveland Guardians and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday, August 1, 2023 in Houston, Texas.
Michael Starghill/MLB Photos via Getty Images

To produce this ranking, I have carefully evaluated each team and weighed several factors, including and pretty much limited to the outcomes of last night's game and whether the front office was cooking.

1. Getting hit by a bus.

2. Kansas City Royals (33-75)

Nothing is more powerful than inducing a walk-off balk. Hours after trading away some bad relievers and minutes after bailing out their much worse remaining relievers to tie the game in the bottom of the 10th, the Kansas City Royals loaded the bases with two outs. Mets manager Buck Showalter brought in lefty Josh Walker to get the third out of the inning, but the game ended before he threw a single pitch. He had forgotten to pick up his PitchCom earpiece and his knee "buckled a little bit" as he tried stepping off the mound to explain the situation to catcher Francisco Álvarez. Kansas City turned its first three-game win streak of the season into its first four-game win streak of the season.

3. Chicago White Sox (43-65)

The White Sox struck out 16 times and didn't walk once in a 2-0 loss to the Rangers. But so long as you ignore a report about their trade interest in Salvador Pérez, the front office acted sensibly and gave White Sox fans what they wanted, which was to never see half the roster ever again. Was the front office cooking? Enough South Side cooking took place to rival The Bear. "Competing for the postseason is viable in 2024," said general manager Rick Hahn yesterday. He's not even wrong.

4. Minnesota Twins (55-53)

A few nights ago, I caught a Twins game and thought, Carlos Correa must lead MLB in double plays grounded into! I am always watching him do this! And then I looked it up and he actually does, with 20. On these 20 occasions, Twins fans may have preferred to see him strike out, which the team's batters are doing in an MLB-most 27.2 percent of their plate appearances this year. By virtue of being the one team not to sell, the Twins strengthened their grip on the AL Central and have 79 percent odds to win the division, per the latest FanGraphs projections. They did so making zero trades on deadline day. Not one trade! The front office was cooking nothing. The front office uses a meal kit delivery service. They did beat the Cardinals 3-2 on Tuesday night.

5. Detroit Tigers (47-60)

I moved to Detroit this summer and feel qualified in saying that Detroit is great and moving is terrible. Never move. So while I would have happily lent him some of the banker's boxes I still have lying around and would have just as happily celebrated a sweet prospect haul, I do understand Eduardo Rodriguez's decision to invoke his no-trade clause and kill a deal that would have sent him to the first-place Dodgers. The front office was cooking but forgot to ask guests if they have any dietary restrictions.

Rodriguez will almost certainly opt out of his team-friendly contract at the end of the year. But for now, just like his team, he is going nowhere. Will other fans be so understanding of the front office bungling the one job they had in a sellers' market for starting pitching? Probably not. I don't remember anything from last night's loss to the Pirates, only that it was over quick.

6. Cleveland Guardians (53-55)

Framber Valdez no-hit the Cleveland Guardians on 93 pitches. He faced the minimum; a double play turned behind him in the fifth inning dispatched the only batter he walked. The Guardians have been no-hit five times in the last three seasons. Their last no-hitter was Len Barker's perfect game in 1981. As you might expect a no-hit team to be, they were sellers at the deadline. They are two games out of first place.

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