Over the past four seasons, the Tigers have dominated the AL Central. However, they have gradually grown older and it may be time for the White Sox, Royals, or Indians to overtake them and win the division.
1. Detroit Tigers
The Tigers have won 4 straight division crowns, but have lost starting pitchers Rick Porcello, Max Scherzer, and Doug Fister over the past few seasons. Detroit hopes that Verlander can return to relevance and the rest of the starting staff, Anibal Sanchez, Shane Greene, and Alfredo Simon, can exceed expectations. The offense should remain one of the best in the league, 2nd last season, because they still have Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and Ian Kinsler and newcomer Yoenis Cespedes.
2. Cleveland Indians
Since Terry Francona became the manager of the Indians, they have averaged nearly 89 wins per season. The Indians are led by one of the most underrated player in the league, Michael Brantley, Carlos Santana, Yan Gomes, Brandon Moss, and Jason Kipnis. The Indians should hit a lot of home runs as well as playing solid defense and limiting their mental mistakes due to Francona’s guidance. The pitching staff is extremely underrated with Cy Young winner, Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, and Danny Salazar.
3. Kansas City Royals
The Royals are the defending AL Champions and were one game away from winning the World Series for the first time since 1985. However, this season, they suffered losses to their rotation, James Shields, outfield, Nori Aoki, and lineup, Billy Butler. The Royals should continue playing great defense and the offense will continue producing runs with their speed and athleticism. The bullpen put forth one of the best performances of all time and they will return all of the important members this season.
4. Chicago White Sox
The Sox have been in a rebuilding phase for the past few season, but made significant moves this offseason. The additions of Jeff Samardizja via trade and David Robertson and Zach Duke via free agency have given the Sox one of the best 1-2 punches in the league and a solid end of the bullpen. The Sox will be led by MVP candidate Jose Abreu and young studs Avisail Garcia and Adam Eaton.
5. Minnesota Twins
The Twins have remained in the AL Central cellar for the past few seasons, but have accumulated one of the best farm systems in the league with Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. The Twins have very little star power because Joe Mauer is declining at a fast rate, Torii Hunter is over the hill, Oswaldo Arcia and Aaron Hicks are still young, and they do not have a number 1 or 2 starting pitcher in their rotation. During the deadline, the Twins will likely trade off veterans Phil Hughes, Glen Perkins, and possibly Joe Mauer in order to give opportunities for their young, talented players.