The AL Central is considered one of the weaker divisions in baseball but the reigning American League Champions reside in the division. Detroit wants to get back to the World Series and win another title for Mo Town. Anything can happen over the course of the regular season and this could leave Detroit on the outside of the playoffs.
It's preview week here at NoDak Twins Fan. Check out the schedule of post for the week and make sure to stop back every day so you are prepared for the upcoming season.
2013 Preview Week
Monday: National League Preview
Tuesday: American League Preview
Wednesday: American League Central Preview
Thursday: Minnesota Twins Awards Preview
Friday: Friday Links-N-Thinks
1. Detroit Tigers (Record Prediction: 92-70)
The Tigers have almost all of the pieces to make them an easy pick for the top of the division. Justin Verlander will lead the pitching staff that has other solid starters like Anibal Sanchez, Max Scherzer, and Doug Fister. The line-up will be bolstered by the addition of Torii Hunter and the return of a healthy Victor Martinez. Austin Jackson has turned himself into possibly the best leadoff hitter in the AL Central and who can forget the MVP season of Miguel Cabrera. The one question mark with the Tigers is the back end of the bullpen. At the beginning of the offseason, rookie Bruce Rondon was expected to earn the closer job but he has put together a rough spring. He still might get the job to start the year or the Tigers could use a closer by committee approach.
2. Kansas City Royals (Record Prediction: 84-78)
The Royals bet the farm by trading away Wil Myers and other prospects to the Rays for pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis. Kansas City has struggled to produce pitching prospects and the front office wants to make a run toward the postseason. Ervin Santana and Jeremy Guthrie will try to improve their numbers against AL Central opponents. Eric Hosmer was supposed to be an MVP candidate last year but he struggled to find a consistent swing. If he can make some adjustments and reach his potential, he could be a force in the middle of the line-up. Billy Butler is a veteran leader and he should help to keep some consistency. The front office really wants to make a run this year and they might be in position to make a move at the deadline if they need an extra piece.
3. Cleveland Indians (Record Prediction: 81-81)
Over the last couple of seasons, Cleveland has been a team that seems to be getting close to breaking through. Core players like Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner had struggled with injuries but both of these men are not in Indians uniforms to start the year. New manager Terry Francona is trying to turn around a franchise that hasn't made the playoffs since their team lost the 2007 ALCS. Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn were surprise offseason signings and young pitcher Trevor Bauer will look to make a mark on the rotation. There are enough question marks with the pitching staff to wonder if the Tribe will be able to push past the .500 mark. This team could finish ahead of the Royals so it will be a close battle for second place.
4. Chicago White Sox (Record Prediction: 77-85)
Chicago surprised a lot of the baseball world last year when they came within a handful of games from winning the division over the eventual AL Champions. Last year's postseason could have had quite a different feel if the White Sox had ended up as the winner of the Central Division. Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn will provide some powerful swings in the middle of the line-up. Tyler Flowers will try and take over the big offensive hole left behind the plate by the departure of AJ Pierzynski. Chris Sale might be the second best starting pitcher in the division and he will continue to prove himself this year. For Chicago, it's going to be a little tougher to score runs and their rotation is lacking some depth. They will fall back to the pack this year and finish near the bottom of the division.
5. Minnesota Twins (Record Prediction: 69-93)
Twins fans might not like seeing the team at the bottom of the division for the third year in a row but there is nothing that is pointing the team from finishing anywhere else. The lackluster rotation thrown together for 2013 is underwhelming at best. Joe Mauer, Josh Willingham, and Justin Morneau will provide offense but it still won't be enough to overcome some of the team's deficiencies. The good news is that the future looks bright and fans will get to watch Aaron Hicks in center field at the beginning of the year. Chris Parmelee and Trevor Plouffe will look to translate minor league numbers into sustained success at the big league level. There are plenty of question marks but the team should be slightly better than the last two years.