BangtheBook is going to be breaking down each division as Opening Day is right around the corner. Spring Training is in full swing right now, and it’s only a few weeks from Major League Baseball getting underway. Here’s your chance to learn more about each team. Let’s take a look at the AL Central.
The Chicago White Sox spent much of the 2012 season in the top spot in the AL Central, but it was the Detroit Tigers who pulled ahead when it counted most. Detroit won 88 games last year, which was the fewest of the six division champions. The Tigers underachieved for most of the year, but they got hot late and took advantage of a poor finish by the White Sox. The Royals, Indians, and Twins were all bad last year. In all, the AL Central was one of the weakest divisions in baseball last year. What does it look like heading into 2013?
2013 American League Central Odds & Predictions (Odds from JustBet)
Odds to Win AL Central: -350
The Tigers are easily the single biggest favorite to win a division out of any of the six divisions. Stars like Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera make a team tough to beat. Verlander is the most consistently dominant pitcher in baseball, and he has a very good rotation behind him as well. Doug Fister just keeps taking care of business and Anibal Sanchez is a great fourth starter. The bullpen is the team’s biggest question mark. Who will close for the Tigers? Rookie Bruce Rondon might end up here, but don’t be surprised if the Tigers blow some late leads this year.
Cabrera is the anchor of the offense, but he has plenty of help around him. Austin Jackson is one of the best leadoff hitters in the game. Torii Hunter was a good offseason pickup to plug into the two spot. Victor Martinez missed all of last year, and fans shouldn’t forget how good of a producer he has been in the past. This team is going to score a ton of runs.
Chicago White Sox
Odds to Win AL Central: +650
Chicago is a really difficult team to get a handle on heading into 2013. This team was expected to be near the bottom of the division in 2012, but they were at the top much of the year. Was last year a sign of things to come or a brief blip? Chris Sale’s extraordinary season was a big reason this team was able to contend for so long last year. Sale will need to be a solid number one again this year. Jake Peavy had his best year in a while last season, and the team needs him to stay healthy.
The White Sox managed to score the fourth most runs in the American League last year. Can they do it again? They’ll need big years from Alex Rios and Adam Dunn again. Dayan Viciedo should get a ton of at bats this year, and the team is expecting a lot out of him. This team feels like a bit of a disappointment waiting to happen.
Kansas City Royals
Odds to Win AL Central: +650
Kansas City was much worse than expected last year, and fans have to be getting a little bit tired of waiting for his team to turn it around. Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas were huge disappointments last year. You have to remember that this team still has a lot of young talent, and there is plenty of time for them to prove themselves. I expect a much better year from Hosmer, who should end up being a perennial All Star in the future. Alex Gordon came into his own at the leadoff spot last year, and he should be good there again this year.
James Shields was a huge pickup for the Royals in the offseason. Shields will instantly become the Opening Day starter here. Ervin Santana and Wade Davis were two guys that the team took a chance on in the offseason. They weren’t particularly successful last year, but they have potential. Greg Holland is the new closer for the Royals.
The offense should be better, but the pitching staff still is below par.
Odds to Win AL Central: +900
The Cleveland Indians have a new look in 2013. Terry Francona is the new manager, and there a ton of new parts to work with in the season ahead. Michael Bourn and Drew Stubbs will be everyday starters in the outfield. Nick Swisher was given a huge contract to come in and be the cleanup hitter. Dice K Matsuzaka is penciled in as the number five starter for the Indians. How will all the new faces fit in?
Cleveland definitely upgraded its outfield defense with Bourn and Stubbs, but it remains to be seen if the offense will benefit. Mark Reynolds was brought in to play third base and DH, but Reynolds strikes out so much he could end up being a liability in the middle of the lineup. The even bigger question mark is the team’s starting rotation. Justin Masterson will start on Opening Day, but they really need Ubaldo Jimenez to break out and pitch like he did a couple years ago. Cleveland has potential to surprise some people.
Odds to Win AL Central: +2,250
Remember when the Twins were the favorite every year to win this division? It wasn’t that long ago, but it certainly seems like it was. Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau still anchor the middle of the order, but the Twins have some major problems. How on earth is this team supposed to contend when it can’t even figure out who is in the rotation? The Opening Day starter will probably be either Vance Worley or Kevin Correia. The Twins finished last in baseball in team ERA last year, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see them at the bottom again this year.
The Twins will score some runs with a strong middle of the order, but it’s going to be another really long year in Minneapolis.
Predicted Order of Finish-
1. Detroit Tigers- No value in them at -350, but they should win the division easily
2. Cleveland Indians- Francona’s team may surprise some people by finishing slightly above .500
3. Chicago White Sox- The White Sox appear destined for some slippage from last year.
4. Kansas City Royals- Kansas City should have a better record than last year, but not good enough
5. Minnesota Twins- Expect 90 plus losses again this year in Minnesota.