American League Central Predictions
The Detroit Tigers did not run away with the AL Central like they were expected to in 2012. They rallied to overtake the Chicago White Sox in the final month and finished with an 88-74 record, just three games clear of the Sox for the division crown. However, the Tigers are again expected to win the AL Central with room to spare in 2013. This is arguably the weakest division in baseball as Chicago, Kansas City, Cleveland and Minnesota all seem to be stuck in rebuilding mode. There’s no question that Detroit is the class of this division once again. I’m going to go through and give my predictions for each team while also listing their odds to win the AL Central this year.
1. Detroit Tigers (-350) – The Tigers have only gotten stronger this offseason after winning the AL Central last year. They added Torri Hunter to what is already one of the most potent lineups in baseball. He’ll flourish hitting in front of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. Victor Martinez returns from a knee injury that kept him out all of last season. Detroit’s rotation features Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez, making it one of the best in the league. The only concern is the No. 5 spot in the rotation and the bullpen.
2. Chicago White Sox (+675) – The White Sox surprisingly led the AL Central for most of 2012 before crumbling over the final month of the season. They finished at 85-77, just three games back of the Detroit Tigers for the division title. I believe the White Sox are the best of the other four teams in this division, though the gap isn’t very big. I like their rotation led by the underrated duo of Chris Sale and Jake Peavy. I also believe the lineup is underrated with Alex Rios, Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn continuing to get the job done. This is the second-best team in the AL Central in 2013.
3. Cleveland Indians (+1150) – The Indians had the best hire this offseason when they nabbed former Red Sox manager Terry Francona. He brings instant credibility to the clubhouse after winning two World Series titles in Boston over the past decade. The lineup gets a boost with the additions of Nick Swisher and Mark Reynolds to go along with the underrated Michael Brandley, Jason Kipnis, Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santana. They traded away Shin Soo-Choo for Drew Stubbs, who still is young enough to blossom. However, this Cleveland rotation lost the most game (76) in the AL last year and it hasn’t gotten any better this offseason.
4. Kansas City Royals (+800) – The Royals have been a trendy pick to get back to the postseason over the last few years due to their incredible farm system. All that talent is finally starting to show as guys like Alex Gordon, Billy Butler and Salvy Parez are making names for themselves. There are still many prospects that have yet to break through, such as Eric Hosmer, who was a big disappointment last year. The rotation gets a boost with the additions of James Shields, Ervin Santana and Wade Davis, but I don’t believe that is enough to help Kansas City turn the corner this year. It could finish with a winning record, but it will not be in contention in the AL Central.
5. Minnesota Twins (+2300) – The Twins are coming off a last-place finish in 2012 with a 66-96 record. They have done little this offseason to make be believe they are ready to turn things around in 2013. I do like the trio of Joe Mauer, Josh Willingham and Justin Mornea in the middle of the lineup, but these guys simply aren’t going to get much help this year. Minnesota failed to upgrade its rotation as Vance Worley and Kevin Correia are not the answers. I do like the Twins to be more competitive than they were a year ago, but that’s really not saying much.