In part two of this six-part series, we’re taking a look at the AL Central, which doesn’t figure to be too competitive with the Tigers far and away the best team in the division. They should coast to a division title by double digits. The numbers used here are courtesy of the LVH sportsbook. Check out the AL East roundup.
Chicago: Over 74
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The White Sox are in a partial rebuilding mode but still have good veteran players. After a complete disaster in year one, Adam Dunn should bounce back and give them his usual power in the middle of the order. I’d be less confident in Alex Rios getting it turned around. Jake Peavy, who hasn’t made 20 starts in a season since 2008, says “he’s 100 percent.” I don’t know how much I buy into that, but it could be the x-factor for this team. They still have some developing players and their pitching is pretty decent. I don’t think they’re a playoff team, but I can see them hovering near .500. The variable for the White Sox is the possibility of them dumping players if they’re not in a playoff race.
Cleveland: under 86.5
I liked their boldness last season in acquiring Ubaldo Jimenez, who I expect to have a big bounce-back year. With Justin Masterson behind him, they have a good 1-2 punch. They have a solid, young and developing lineup led by Carlos Santana and Asdrubal Cabrera. Shin Soo Choo had a bad injury-plagued year but should rebound. The issues for this team are what can they still expect from veterans Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner, and can they get decent enough pitching at the back-end of the rotation? The bullpen looks solid. They won 80 games last year and might top that by a couple of games, but they still stay comfortably under the number.
Detroit: Over 92.5
In signing Prince Fielder, the best team in the division got that much better. Justin Verlander showed how dominant he can be last season, and he’s backed up nicely by Doug Fister. Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello have been inconsistent, but the upside is there. The bullpen is excellent, and they should get enough production from the lineup around Fielder and Miguel Cabrera. All signs point to this being the best team in baseball and being a fun year for Tiger fans. They’ll threaten the 100-win mark.
Kansas City: Under 80.5
We know about all the young talent the Royals have, led by Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and the long-awaited emergence of Alex Gordon. They still lack experience, and the starting pitching is not in place yet. They won 71 games last year and this seems like a sizeable upgrade. They threaten the .500 mark but fall a few games short.
Minnesota: Under 75
The Twins have been a great organization, and you don’t want to underestimate them, but this team looks bad. Joe Mauer is coming off an injury, and it appears Target Field has already zapped his power. Justin Morneau is coming off two injury-plagued years, and it’s anybody’s guess if he’ll ever be the same player again. Even with the addition of Josh Willingham, the rest of the lineup is weak. On the injury theme, Francisco Liriano has not found himself yet, and the rest of the rotation and the bullpen are mediocre. They struggle to win 70 this year and stay comfortably under the number.