2013 Season Preview: American League Central



While certain national baseball writers seem to think Kansas City and Cleveland adding five or six wins to their 2012 totals will somehow help them unseat a Tigers team that added four or five wins of their own this offseason, the overwhelming evidence points to a third straight Tigers division title.

Things can go wrong, but the Tigers are far and away the safest bet to win any division in baseball again this season.

Here’s how STT sees it. [Division Rank. Team (2013 W/L Prediction, 2013 Preseason Power Ranking)]

5. Minnesota Twins (65-97, 27)

The Twins are looking down the road at a crop of exciting position prospects who are a few years away. They traded away both of their center fielders and signed scrap heap pitching. The plan is to wait it out, and that’s what they are doing. The Twins might not be baseball’s worst team, but on paper, they are certainly the worst in the AL Central.

4. Cleveland Indians (71-91, 26)

To be clear, I locked in these rankings and projections days before the Indians signed Michael Bourn, so this reflects a lower opinion of the Indians that is appropriate. The numbers reflect my views in the days before Spring Training, so for consistency’s sake, I’ll stand by them. The Indians added Bourn, Swisher, Stubbs, and Reynolds on offense and Myers, Bauer, and Dice-K in the rotation this offseason and should be better in 2013 for it. I kind of like their positions players and would like them more if they had one elite bat to put in the middle. But the pitching just can’t cut it. They have plenty of guys I like at the back end of a rotation, but no one I like for the top in 2013.

3. Kansas City Royals (76-86, 23)

Listen, the Royals didn’t get that much better. They added Ervin Santana who was terrible last year. They added Jeremy Guthrie who is okay. They added Wade Davis who could be solid and James Shields who is very good. At most, they added ten wins to their 2012 total. At most. That’s if Santana and Guthrie and Davis all contribute like legitimate major leaguers and if they all stay healthy. Don’t get me wrong, Hosmer should be better and Perez should hopefully stay healthy, but man is that a lot of qualifications. The Royals are no one’s whipping boy anymore, but let’s cool it with the excitement from national writers who somehow think adding James Shields changes everything. Guys, Wil Myers would have been just as big an upgrade over Jeff Francoeur.

2. Chicago White Sox (83-79, 16)

The White Sox didn’t do much to improve upon the 2012 roster and that team was the picture of average. So they shall be again. They over performed my expectations last year because I bet on certain players to continue washing up instead of returning to form. This team is a 78-85 win team at its finest and can certainly hang around if the Tigers let them.

1. Detroit Tigers (94-68, 2)

The Tigers return the same team that made it to the World Series in 2012 after underperforming all season, but they also add Victor Martinez, Torii Hunter, and full seasons of Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez. They do so without losing anything of substance. If the Tigers remain as healthy as their opponents, they should win the division easily in 2013. Their pitching staff is head and shoulders above the Twins, Royals, and Indians while remaining significantly better than the White Sox and are serious contenders for the title of baseball’s best staff. Certainly things can go wrong, but they would have to go a lot more wrong for the Tigers than for every other team for this to be much of a race.

AL Central Cy Young: Justin Verlander (snooze)

AL Central MVP: Justin Verlander

Most Potentially Pivotal Player: Eric Hosmer

Storyline that Will Surprise Us: The Tigers won’t stumble out of the gate or down the stretch and will make it easy on their fans.

Boldest of the Bold: Joe Mauer will find his power again and hit 20 HRs.


2 responses

  1. […] can read my AL Central preview here, my preseason power rankings here, and my standings prediction here, all of which point to my […]

  2. […] listed MVP’s of each division which included Evan Longoria, Justin Verlander, and Mike Trout. Logic dictates that I have to pick one of those three players for the league-wide […]

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