Much has been written on social media about the AL East and the bloodbath expected in that division with the Blue Jays, Rays, Red Sox, and Yankees all potential 90-100 game winners. The NL East, NL West and AL West should find themselves very competitive as well. The NL Central should also be interesting. But what about the AL Central? What teams should we be paying attention to?
The Twins found themselves at the bottom of the AL Central with a 73-89 record last year after placing first in 2019 and 2020, so needless to say the team disappointed in ’21. The Twins decided to retool/rebuild after this, notably trading Mitch Garver and Josh Donaldson and eventually receiving Gio Urshela and Gary Sanchez in return. The team also signed Carlos Correa, Dylan Bundy, and now Chris Archer to round out a rotation that lost Michael Pineda but picked up Sonny Gray via trade as well. This team looks very different from the one that won the division just two years ago, but has the potential to do so again. But they could also crash and burn like last year. Guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Kansas City Royals
The Royals didn’t have a very good year last year, finishing 4th place in the division with a 74-88 record. And there’s little indication that will change this year. They did sign former Royal Zach Greinke this off-season, but that seems to be the only notable addition for the team, unless Amir Garrett can return to 2019/2020 form. Regardless, I don’t think these additions will offer them much in terms of moving towards a playoff berth. At least Royals fans can get excited for the MLB’s #1 prospect this year in Bobby Witt Jr.
The Tigers truly are an up and coming team, with top prospects Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson expected to make their debuts early this year, if not straight from Opening Day. Pair them with additions Javier Baez, Tucker Barnhart, and Eduardo Rodriguez in the rotation, and you’re looking at a strong team in Detroit. The team has to be hoping that Akil Badoo and Jeimer Candelario can build off their strong 2021 seasons as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if this team flips their 77-85 record from last year, or more.
Good thing the Guardians have a new name, because this certainly isn’t the same team we’ve experienced from Cleveland pre-2021. Obviously, they still have J-Ram (for now), and Franmil Reyes can hit the cover off the ball, but I’m not sure if there are any other strong threats in that lineup. They didn’t add much in free agency or in trades, so this is largely the same team as last season, and they were a distant 2nd to the White Sox. With the Tigers and Twins improved from last year, this team might even be competing with the Royals for last place in the division! The Guardians legacy is not starting off well.
Chicago White Sox
This team is one of the most exciting in baseball, but that should be expected from a team that employs Tim Anderson. There’s a bit of a logjam at 1st, and right field could be a weakness for the team, but this team is still the most talented of the division. Having Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert for full seasons should also be helpful.
1. Chicago White Sox 95-67
2. Minnesota Twins 90-72
3. Detroit Tigers 85-77
4. Cleveland Guardians 79-83
5. Kansas City Royals 69-93
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