AL Central Preview and Predictions

Chicago White Sox – 2015 Record: 76-86

Notable offseason additions:

SP Mat Latos(From Los Angeles Angels), C Alex Avila(From Detroit), OF Austin Jackson(From Chicago Cubs), 3B Todd Frazier(From Cincinnati), 2B Brett Lawrie(From Oakland), and C Dioner Navarro(From Toronto)

Notable offseason subtractions:

C Tyler Flowers(To Atlanta), 2B Gordon Beckham(To Atlanta), SS Alexei Ramirez(To San Diego), and SP Jeff Samardzija(To San Francisco)

Analysis: Chicago made quite a few acquisitions to try and improve their team this year. First of all, Todd Frazier is an all-star caliber player that will be great in the middle of the White Sox lineup to provide some support for Jose Abreu. However, for the offense to really be successful they will need production out of guys like Melky Cabrera and Adam Eaton who both struggled last season. Also, the White Sox have a pretty good pitching staff led by clear number 1 starter Chris Sale. If they can get some consistency from the back end of their rotation then that would make Chicago really good. David Robertson is a really good closer, but besides him the White Sox bullpen could really struggle. We know that Frazier, Abreu, and Sale will all produce for Chicago in 2016. However, they will need more production besides them if they want to compete in the AL Central.

Prediction: 4th place in the AL Central

Cleveland Indians – 2015 Record: 81-80

Notable offseason additions:

RP Tommy Hunter(From Chicago Cubs), 1B Mike Napoli(From Texas), 3B Juan Uribe(From New York Mets), OF Rajai Davis(From Detroit)

Notable offseason subtractions:

3B Chris Johnson(To Miami) and SP Gavin Floyd(To Toronto)

Analysis: Cleveland doesn’t have a loaded offense and now that all-star outfielder Michael Brantley will miss a big portion of the 2016 season then the team could really be starving to score runs. The Indians will need 2nd basemen Jason Kipnis and other position players to really step up in Brantley’s absence. Meanwhile, I’m not very concerned about Cleveland’s starting rotation especially at the top with Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Danny Salazar. However, the 4th and 5th starters will have to become more consistent if the Indians aren’t scoring many runs. Cleveland’s bullpen is in decent shape especially with closer Cody Allen who had 34 saves in 2015. I’m not convinced that Cleveland’s pitching can make up for the lack of offense, so they will need at least somebody to step up while Brantley is injured or else this team could be in deep trouble.

Prediction: 5th place in the AL Central

Detroit Tigers – 2015 Record: 74-87

Notable offseason additions:

OF Cameron Maybin(From Atlanta), SP Jordan Zimmermann(From Washington), RP Justin Wilson(From New York Yankees), RP Mark Lowe(From Toronto), SP Mike Pelfrey(From Minnesota), OF Justin Upton(From San Diego), and RP Francisco Rodriguez(From Milwaukee)

Notable offseason subtractions:

SP Alfredo Simon(To Cincinnati), OF Rajai Davis(To Cleveland), and C Alex Avila(To Chicago White Sox)

Analysis: I really like what Detroit did this offseason because they improved their team in a variety of ways. The team already had Miguel Cabrera, J.D. Martinez, and Ian Kinsler in their lineup heading into this offseason. However, they made their offense even more dangerous with the addition of power-hitting outfielder Justin Upton. Also, the signing of Jordan Zimmermann provides the team with a top of the rotation starting pitcher that will help improve a pitching staff that wasn’t very good at all last season.  However, the main issue for the Tigers in 2015 was definitely their bullpen. They made big improvements to their bullpen by acquiring Mark Lowe and Justin Wilson to be their 7th and 8th inning guys. Not to mention, Detroit also traded for Francisco Rodriguez who has been one of the most reliable closers. This team has improved in basically every area and it is ready to be a world series contender once again.

Prediction: 1st place in the AL Central

Kansas City Royals – 2015 Record: 95-67

Notable offseason additions:

RP Joakim Soria(From Pittsburgh) and SP Ian Kennedy(From San Diego)

Notable offseason subtractions:

2B Ben Zobrist(To Chicago Cubs), RP Ryan Madson(To Oakland), and SP Johnny Cueto(To San Francisco)

Analysis: The Royals are reigning world series champions and even though they did a good job of keeping key players like Alex Gordon with the team they still lost a couple of key players this offseason. Kansas City basically has the same exact lineup as last season, so you can expect to continue to see solid offensive production. The bullpen figures to be the strength of the team in 2016 as Kelvin Herrera, Luke Hochever, and Wade Davis are all returning to their late-inning roles. The bullpen might even be better after the Royals signed proven late-inning guy Joakim Soria. The only thing that I see holding Kansas City back is their starting rotation. Edinson Volquez is a reliable number 1 starter, but besides him it is unclear what Yordano Ventura and Ian Kennedy will give the team as top of the rotation starters. Both players have tons of talent, but they struggle with consistency and the bullpen might not be able to succeed if the Royals starters aren’t keeping games close. This team is still basically the same as it was last year, but ultimately the lack of a quality starting rotation drops them to 2nd place in the AL Central in my opinion.

Prediction: 2nd place in the AL Central

Minnesota Twins – 2015 Record: 83-79

Notable offseason additions:

1B Byung Ho Park(From South Korean team)

Notable offseason subtractions:

SP Mike Pelfrey(To Detroit), OF Aaron Hicks(To New York Yankees)

Analysis: The Twins surprised us all last season with 83 wins, but the issue is that they didn’t make their team much better this offseason. I’m excited to see what young outfielders Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano can do in 2016 and they will be a key component of the Twins offense. Of course, Minnesota will really need Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer to step up like they did last season in order to score runs. I think the Twins offense has a chance to be very good this season. However, the bullpen and the starting rotation really concerns me. Closer Glen Perkins is one of the most reliable closers in the MLB as he had 32 saves, but besides him the bullpen isn’t looking very good at all. Meanwhile, the pitching staff is just as much of a mess. Phil Hughes is the team’s number 1 starter and yet he only had 11 wins and a 4.40 ERA in 2015. The Twins offense will clearly carry the load like it did last season, but if they want to improve last year then somebody in their pitching rotation and bullpen must step up.

Prediction: 3rd place in the AL Central

miguel cabrera

 

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