Last week we looked at some areas of need for NL contenders. Using weighted on-base average, let's identify the weakest offensive production by position in the AL today. Since they're all within 6.5 games of the division lead, we're going to loosely call all AL Central clubs contenders.
- Catcher: White Sox (.275), Orioles (.277), Tigers (.278). The Orioles might prefer Matt Wieters get on base at better than a .297 clip, but most likely they're content with his production. The team's catcher production has been dragged down by backups Chris Snyder and Taylor Teagarden, who have soaked up about 14% of the ABs and have offered nothing. The Tigers have used Alex Avila and Brayan Pena, the latter of whom has actually been decent. It's looking like more of a timeshare at present. It doesn't seem like acquiring someone like John Buck or Nick Hundley would help the situation. Tyler Flowers hasn't done much as A.J. Pierzynski's replacement in Chicago, but giving Josh Phegley a look makes more sense than an acquisition.
- First base: White Sox (.284), Royals (.290), Twins (.305). The Royals have been suffering through another subpar season from Eric Hosmer. The White Sox are hoping for Paul Konerko to pull out of it, while the Twins have to hope Justin Morneau rediscovers his power stroke. Corey Hart and Carlos Pena could be available this summer, as first basemen go.
- Second base: White Sox (.235), Orioles (.237), Royals (.246). Jeff Keppinger has done much, but the White Sox reinstated Gordon Beckham from the DL today. The Orioles have used Ryan Flaherty, Alexi Casilla, Yamaico Navarro, and a few games of Brian Roberts before he suffered a hamstring injury. They might as well wait to see if Roberts really does return in mid-June, and then see if he can still hit. The Royals have mainly gone with Chris Getz and Elliot Johnson. Perhaps when Chase Utley returns from his oblique strain in mid-June, the Phillies' chances in 2013 will have tipped the scale one way or the other. The second base trade market offers little otherwise; perhaps Rickie Weeks or Darwin Barney.
- Shortstop: Yankees (.256), Royals (.263). Derek Jeter is recovering from an ankle injury, and it's unknown when he'll make his season debut. The Royals seem locked in with Alcides Escobar. The trade market appears barren anyway, unless perhaps the White Sox make Alexei Ramirez available.
- Third base: White Sox (.265), Royals (.268), Angels (.282), Yankees (.284). Have you noticed the Royals get no offensive production out of their infield? Mike Moustakas is the culprit here. Conor Gillaspie has been OK at third for the White Sox, and should eat into Keppinger's playing time. Alberto Callaspo and Luis Jimenez haven't given the Angels much production. The Yankees have Kevin Youkilis back, plus the possibility of Alex Rodriguez down the road. Aramis Ramirez, Chase Headley, Mark DeRosa, and Juan Uribe could be available.
- Right field: Athletics (.252), Royals (.262), Yankees (.280), Angels (.282). The A's hope Josh Reddick, back from the DL on Friday, will start hitting. The Royals can't expect that from Jeff Francoeur. The Yankees have tried Ichiro Suzuki and Brennan Boesch, and now Lyle Overbay is getting a start in right field as the team waits for Curtis Granderson to return to their outfield. For the Angels, Josh Hamilton at least showed some power in May. Thinking about the trade market? Giancarlo Stanton, Andre Ethier, Nate Schierholtz, Alex Rios, and Mike Morse are the commonly speculated-upon names.
- Center field: Twins (.257), White Sox (.292), Tigers (.303). Rookie Aaron Hicks had six home runs for the Twins in May, so maybe things will continue getting better. The White Sox have been using Alejandro De Aza and Dewayne Wise, and perhaps should just use less of Wise. The Tigers await the return of Austin Jackson.
- Left field: White Sox (.293). Dayan Viciedo hit 25 home runs last year, but has just four so far this year. The team has also been using De Aza in left. Josh Willingham, Jason Bay, Raul Ibanez, Carlos Quentin, Alfonso Soriano, and Melky Cabrera could be on the market, in a general sense.
- Designated hitter: Tigers (.263), White Sox (.284), Orioles (.308). Big commitments to Victor Martinez in Detroit and Adam Dunn and Konerko in Chicago hamstring this clubs at DH. The Orioles may want to see what Nolan Reimold can do when he returns later this month, but they should be flexible toward upgrades involving many of the aforementioned available hitters. As far as pure designated hitters, Kendrys Morales and Adam Lind might be out there.