Last season in the AL Central, one team overcame a sluggish start to win the division title outright and make it to the American League Championship Series. The team they overtook suffered a monumental collapse, while two other teams ran into injury problems or batting slumps and pitching problems, and the other team finished in the cellar once again.
Here are my projections for the AL Central division in the MLB this year:
Detroit Tigers: 1ST IN AL Central.
Reasons why: This team has what it takes to win a division this year. Depth, pitching, good management, and a great bullpen. Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera should have big years at the plate, and Justin Verlander can only build on his success last year as the AL Cy Young and MVP. My only concern with this team is how well they’ll stay healthy and how Cabrera will handle the adjustment to his new position at third base. He hasn’t played there in years, so it will be interesting to see how he does early on in the season. Look for the Tigers to be a top contender this year. I wouldn’t be surprised if they make it all the way to the World Series.
Minnesota Twins: 2ND IN AL Central
Reasons why: This team should have a year where they’re in the hunt at least for a while. They have a good rotation at the top. Starting with Carl Pavano and Francisco Liriano. Their bullpen however, is lacking something. Matt Capps isn’t the answer for them at closer. He blew too many saves for them last year, and really hurt the Twins down the stretch. My biggest concern is their ability to stay healthy. Players like Denard Span, Justin Morneau, and Joe Mauer are coming off concussion like symptoms, and I’m anxious to see how effective they will be coming off a major injury like that. All in all, I look for this team to compete with the Tigers this year if they can stay healthy, otherwise the division is the Tigers’ for the taking.
Cleveland Indians: 3RD IN AL Central
Reasons why: This team is a wild card. After a monumental collapse last year, you have to wonder if they still have what it takes. Their rotation is revamped with a few new acquisitions, but they’re all coming off major injuries and I don’t see them being too effective this year. Their offense is good when healthy, but when hurt, is ineffective. I look for the Indians to finish in the middle of the pack this year. Finishing over .500 would be an accomplishment.
Chicago White Sox: 4TH IN AL Central
Reasons why: This team had an off year. To make matters worse, they remodeled the entire team. They have a new manager, a new system, and a new attitude. Unfortunately, they also have a multitude of new players that aren’t necessarily going to replace the big name acquisitions they lost in the offseason. Their rotation is still one of the league’s best, but again, staying healthy has been an issue for them. I look for the White Sox to compete with the Royals for last place this year.
Kansas City Royals: 5TH IN AL Central
Reasons why: This team is in serious trouble. They’re in for a lot of problems, and they don’t have many marketable players to trade. Losing Joakim Soria for the entire season will really hurt as well, seeing as they don’t have a reliable closer to help them win games. Their offense scares no one and their defense led the league in errors last year. Don’t be surprised if they start over anew and make some major changes at the top. This could easily another one of the worst teams in baseball this year.