2016 American League Central Preview

As part of our ongoing week of baseball coverage we will continue to breakdown each division, talking about what teams have done to improve on last season, what we think the standings will be, and if we think any of the teams are a serious contender for the World Series.

American League Central

Kansas City Royals

royals

2015 Record: 95-67, World Series Champions

Key Acquisitions: Alex Gordon*, Ian Kennedy, Dillon Gee, Joakim Soria

Key Departures: Johnny Cueto, Jeremy Guthrie

W2W4: The Royals are coming off their first World Series title in 30 years, ending one of the longest stretches between W.S. victories in  Major League Baseball, and wouldn’t be saying anything shocking if I said they are a heavy favorite yet again. The organization is on the verge of a mini-dynasty and they have only gotten better this offseason. Not losing Alex Gordon to free agency is huge, while bringing in another solid starter in Ian Kennedy (his contact is horrible, though) and signing Gee to a minor league deal, were excellent moves. Retaining almost their entire starting lineup from last season, keeping the best bullpen in baseball intact while adding a nice piece like Soria. I love the Royals again this season.

Minnesota Twins

twins

2015 Record: 83-79

Key Acquisitions: Miguel Sano*, Byron Buxton*

Key Departures: none

W2W4: The Twins had one of the most quiet offseasons this year, not going after any free agents and not letting any of their guys go, why?  Becase of they have two of the most hyped rookies that are about to hit the big leagues with authority. It is time for Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton to make their mark on the MLB and in addition to Mauer gaining more confidence at first base, there’s little reason to doubt this Twins team.  The one thing stopping me from picking them is just inexperience. Rarely do teams make it far being led by a couple of rookies, and I don’t see it happening this year.  To me, they are still a couple of years away from breaking through that ceiling.  Until then, they will have to struggle through the growing pains.

Cleveland Indians

indians

2015 Record: 81-80

Key Acquisitions: Yovani Gallardo, Juan Uribe, Mike Napoli

Key Departures: none

W2W4: The Indians had a pretty quiet offseason, not landing any big free agents and not losing any of their key guys.  This is how Terry Francona likes it.  They had a solid 2015 campaign finishing one game over .500 and I look for them to improve on that this season.  They have a lot of youth and with the additions of veterans Mike Napoli and Juan Uribe, I am loving their mix of veterans and young guns.  They have a young pitching staff who is only going to get better with innings.  Their bullpen will neither save them nor kill them, which isn’t the worst position to be in. I like the Indians as the dark horse to come out of the Central should the Sox and Royals find themselves with an injured or struggling roster.

Chicago White Sox

White Sox vs. Indians

2015 Record: 76-86

Key Acquisitions:  Todd Frazier, Mat Latos, Brett Lawrie

Key Departures: Jeff Samardzija

W2W4: The White Sox are looking to become one of the more improved teams from 2015 to 2016.  Their front office did their job and made some key pickups in the offseason to aid their improving team.  Jose Abreu and Chris Sale are bona-fide studs in the MLB, add to them Frazier and Lawrie and they have the makings of a solid roster. Losing Samardzija could prove to be a big loss, but it was a risk they had to take as he was looking for a contract that he probably doesn’t deserve given his credentials.  I like the White Sox to be vastly improved this season if they stay healthy and look for them to make an early run at the division but ultimately come up short.

Detroit Tigers

tigers.jpg

2015 Record: 74-87

Key Acquisitions: Bobby Parnell, Justin Upton,  Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Key Departures: age

W2W4: The Tigers have been notorious for having the worst farm system in the MLB, and that is going to start to show itself. With Verlander and Cabrera not getting any younger, where is the talent going to come from?  The bottom line for the Tigers is that they didn’t make any huge moves this offseason, with the exception of Upton, they are relying on the guys they had last season and a terrible minor league talent pool.  Unless these guys can avoid injury and have a resurgence in their career, I don’t see the Tigers getting much better this season.  In fact I think last year was the start of a rut the organization will find itself in, which is a shame for the once great players they have there.

 

Projected Final Standings:

  1. Kansas City Royals
  2. Chicago White Sox
  3. Cleveland Indians
  4. Minnesota Twins
  5. Detroit Tigers

 


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