American League Central Predictions
The Detroit Tigers were crowned your 2013 AL Central Champions. However, they did not run away with the division like everyone was expecting. In fact, the Cleveland Indians won 92 games last year to fall just one game short. Also, the Kansas City Royals (86-76) finished with a winning record for the first time in ages. What was considered the worst division in baseball coming into the year turned out to be a very strong one.
There’s no question that the Tigers are the prohibitive favorite heading into 2014 as well. The Indians and Royals are again expected to be their biggest pursuers, while the White Sox and Twins battle it out for last place within the division. Of course, things never usually turn out according to plan when it comes to predicting these things. Let’s take a look at how I have the 2014 AL Central Division playing out.
2014 AL Central Predictions
- Odds to Win AL Central: -290
- Projected Record: 90-72
The Tigers are once again the favorites to win this division and for good reason. They have three aces in their rotation in Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez. They also have the best player in baseball in Miguel Cabrera. They did trade away Prince Fielder, but filled a hole at second base by getting back Ian Kinsler in return. This team has more than enough to run away with the division, but they’ll like suffer enough hiccups that the Royals and Indians will stay within striking distance all year.
- Odds to Win AL Central: +350
- Projected Record: 88-74
If there was one team that can overtake the Tigers in the AL Central, it’s certainly the Kansas City Royals. This organization had one of the best farm systems in baseball for years, and it has finally started paying off. They went on a 43-27 tear over their final 70 games last season, and if they can pick up right where they left off, look out. This is a young team that is built to contend for years. They had to nice offseason acquisitions in Norichika Aoki and Omar Infante, who add on-base percentage at the top of the lineup in front of Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler, Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez. James Shield leads a strong rotation that could be real good in 2014.
- Odds to Win AL Central: +500
- Projected Record: 82-80
Most aren’t giving the Indians much credit for winning 92 games last season. They did it out of nowhere in Terry Francona’s first year on the job. It’s going to be very hard for them to match that win total again in 2014. The lineup just doesn’t have much flash outside of Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana. The starting rotations really overachieved last year as Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir were all much better than expected. Now, Jimenez and Kazmir are gone, but up-and-comer Danny Salazar could be the future face of the franchise. The Indians could be relying upon John Axford to close games for them, which is a concern. I just think this team takes a big step back in 2014.
- Odds to Win AL Central: +1200
- Projected Record: 71-91
I have no doubt that the White Sox are the biggest sleeper in this division. While I only have them winning 71 games, they are the one team that wouldn’t surprise me if they finished far off from my expectations. They added some nice pieces in the offseason in Adam Eaton and Jose Abreu, who should both contribute in a big way as Eaton will be scoring runs and Abreu will be knocking them in with his power. Chris Sale is one of the best starters in the game, but I’m just not sold on the rest of the rotation. John Danks needs to return to his former self, and I don’t think Jose Quintana can back up what he did a year ago. Right now, the Southsiders have Felipe Paulino and Erik Johnson penciled in as their final two starters, which isn’t good.
- Odds to Win AL Central: +4000
- Projected Record: 68-94
The Twins only had two seasons of 95-plus losses in their first 50 seasons in the majors. They have topped that number in three consecutive seasons off a 66-96 season in 2013. Things don’t look much better up in Minnesota heading into 2014, either. Their 614 runs scored last year was their lowest since 1968. They finished 29th in the league with 4.86 runs allowed per game as well. Outside of Joe Mauer, the lineup has question marks all over the place and will again be one of the worst in baseball. The Twins spent decent money this offseason on Rocky Nolasco and Phil Hughes, hoping a change of scenery does them well. I’m not buying it, and as a result, I have them finishing last in the AL Central in 2014.