After the first week of the season, the standings in the AL Central look as if they've been turned upside down.
The Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins were expected to fight for first place, and very likely will occupy the top two or three spots in the division as the season progresses. But after nine games, the Tigers and Twins are tied for last place with 3-6 records. Both are on two-game losing streaks entering play on Monday.
Not surprisingly, pitching has been the main culprit in keeping the Tigers down in the standings. With a team ERA of 6.19, Detroit is second-to-last in the majors, ahead of only the even more disappointing Boston Red Sox. The Twins' 4.38 team ERA ranks them 21st in baseball.
The surprise of the division -- and perhaps all of baseball -- is the Cleveland Indians, who lead the AL Central with a 7-2 record. That mark is the second-best in the American League, behind the Texas Rangers' 8-1 record, and would be tied with the Philadelphia Phillies' for the best record in the National League.
(And if Asdrubal Cabrera was supposed to be a slap-hitting shortstop for the Tribe, someone forgot to tell him. With three home runs already, Cabrera has matched his total from last season. However, he played in only 97 games.)
Powered by winning two of three from the Tigers over the weekend, the Kansas City Royals sit in second place with a 6-3 record. They're tied with the Chicago White Sox, who took three of four from the Tampa Bay Rays in their last series.
Elsewhere in the AL, the aforementioned Rangers have the best record in all of baseball and could very well build on that over the next three games versus the Tigers. It's early, of course, but Texas doesn't look like a team letting down after last year's World Series run. And they're doing it on both sides of the ball. The Rangers' lead the majors with a 2.48 team ERA, and their 58 runs are ranked fourth in baseball.
Texas has already established a three-game lead in the AL West over the second-place Los Angeles Angels, with the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners trailing behind.
In the AL East, the Baltimore Orioles continue to be an early-season surprise, leading the division with a 6-3 record. That has them one game ahead of both the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays. Perhaps the two biggest disappointments in baseball occupy the lower half of the division, with the Red Sox in fourth place at 2-7 and the Tampa Bay Rays sitting in the basement at 1-8.
With Evan Longoria on the DL, nursing a strained oblique, and Manny Ramirez's sudden retirement, things might not be getting much better for last year's AL East champs. Their 20 runs are the lowest total in the majors.