Two weeks of baseball are in the books and the MLB teams across the Midwest have passing grades on their first-look report cards.
All-in-all, nobody from the Midwest is joining the Cincinnati Reds, Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles in detention. The Chicago Cubs have some pitching extra credit to work on. The Minnesota Twins are a little behind in Hitting 101.
St. Louis is at the head of the class in the NL Central. The Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals sit just behind Cleveland in the AL Central.
Sportsbook report cards to win the World Series
NL Central report cards
St. Louis Cardinals: A
St. Louis is out to a good start at 9-5, in part thanks to the hot bat of honors student Nolan Arenado. The Cardinals signed the sweet-hitting third-baseman prior to last season and he has picked up right where left off in the 2021 campaign.
Arenado is hitting .364 with five home runs and has struck out 12 times in 55 at bats. He is currently +2000 to be the MLB’s home run leader according to Caesars.
Swinging the bat well, Tommy Edman has three home runs and a .313 average. Mike Mikolas is pitching well and ace Adam Wainwright already has notched 22 strikeouts on the season.
DraftKings in Iowa has the Cardinals at +160 to win the division and +1300 to win the National League. FanDuel Sportsbook odds currently have the Red Birds at +175 to win the division and +1500 to win the pennant.
Milwaukee Brewers: A-
The Brewers are currently sitting at 10-6 and second in the NL Central. They are still favored to win the division by most major books, but are far from the favorite in the National League race.
Long-term, pitching might be a concern for Milwaukee. Corbin Burnes shook off a bad opening start against the Chicago Cubs to play well in his last two outings. Pushed into a starting role last season, Freddy Peralta has had a rough two outings against the Cubs and Cardinals to begin the year. Preseason expectations were high for the Brewers and he will need to pitch better in order to reach them.
First baseman Rowdy Tellez and outfielder Andrew McCutchen are swinging the bat well, but the Brewers have struggled to get extra-base hits so far this year.
Chicago Cubs: B
Surprisingly, the Cubs are just three games off the lead in the NL Central at 7-9. Rookie sensation Seiya Suzuki has smashed four home runs and carries a blistering .354 batting average. At the plate, Ian Happ and Patrick Wisdom are seeing good at bats for Chicago, which does raise their ceiling.
The Cubs pitching has not been great and will need to improve if Chicago is to be considered a series playoff threat. Kyle Hendricks struggled in his first three starts but turned in seven innings of two-hit ball in the 21-0 win Saturday over the Pirates. Caesars Sportsbook IA has the Cubs at +400 to make the playoffs and FanDuel has them +950 to win the division.
AL Central report cards
Twins grade: B-
At 8-8, Minnesota climbed to the division lead with a four-game winning streak. Bryon Buxton, once again, was injured after a fabulous start, which was another setback for the former Cedar Rapids Kernel. But he’s back now, including a 4-for-4 outing Saturday with a home run and two RBI. Carlos Correa, landed on a three-year deal. He has been bad at the plate, hitting at .200 with 18 strikeouts so far this season.
Miguel Sano has had an atrocious start to the season, hitting under .100 in 48 at-bats. The top of the pitching rotation has been fine for the Twins — especially Joe Ryan — but that will likely not matter unless Minnesota gets its staff firing the ball better soon.
White Sox grade: B-
After a strong start, Chicago has faltered recently, losing its last seven games to land at 6-9. They are 1.5 games behind division-leading Twins.
Tim Anderson and Andrew Vaughn are hitting well for the White Sox, though the team has scored just 50 runs so far this season. Eloy Jimenez has eight hits in his first 36 at-bats this season.
Led by Dylan Cease, the White Sox carry a team ERA of 4.08. Still a favorite, the White Sox are +500 to win the AL pennant by both DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel.
Royals grade: B-
Offensively, Kansas City is having some issues despite sitting just two games out of first place in the AL Central. The Royals are tied with the Cincinnati Reds for the fewest runs scored so far this season. Whit Merrifield has struggled mightily at the plate — he’s hit just .136 in 69 at-bats — but he is hardly the only Kansas City player with that designation.
Bobby Witt Jr., a popular preseason Rookie of the Year pick, has hit .185 with 16 strikeouts in his first 14 games.
Kansas City’s pitching, however, has been excellent. Zach Greinke and Brad Keller have been strong, with Keller tallying quality starts in his first two games this season. Scott Barlow has also had strong relief appearances so far this season.
The Royals are +2000 to win the AL Central at DraftKings, but if they stick around and find some consistent bats, could threaten. Chicago and Cleveland have given no indication they will run away with the division and Kansas City has a good enough roster, at least on paper, to make some noise at the end of the year.