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AL Central Season Preview

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Ayden

Ayden

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The AL Central was arguably the least competitive division in MLB Pro last season. The Indians finished 23 games ahead of 2nd place Minnesota and it only got worse from there.

This season looks to be different though as every team has made moves looking to improve in one way or another. Now, read on as I break it down for you. Enjoy.

CLEVELAND INDIANS

2012 Record: 103-59 (1st in division)
Predicted 2013 Finish: 101-61 (1st)

Projected Lineup (AVG/OBP/SLG)

LF Gerardo Parra (.335/.390/.507)
CF Brett Gardner (.282/.373/.382)
1B Billy Butler (.269/.326/.469)
3B Juan Francisco (.290/.331/.473)
RF Shin-Soo Choo (.290/.375.457)
DH Mike Carp (.276/.330/.476)
SS Asdrubal Cabrera (.312/.344/.475)
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.249/.337/.437)
2B Danny Espinosa (.245/.320/.427)

Projected Rotation (ERA/WHIP/BABIP)

LHP Tom Milone (2.92/1.18/.284)
RHP Clay Buchholz (3.62/1.31/.298)
LHP Cole Hamels (4.52/1.34/.321)
RHP Chris Volstad (4.85/1.43/.316)
RHP Bronson Arroyo (2.60/1.20/.279)

Bullpen

LR Hector Noesi
MR Aroldis Chapman
MR Daniel Schlereth
MR Cory Wade
SU Matt Thornton
SU Steve Cishek
CL Vinnie Pestano

Player to watch: Jurickson Profar: Profar was acquired in the mega-trade with Texas and is currently in AAA Columbus but I can’t imagine him being there long after a good spring training. His stellar play has even led GM Dugmore opening up trade talks for Asdrubal Cabrera although nothing has eventuated yet.

If all goes to plan: World Series title…nuff said.

If the proverbial hits the fan: The Indians like to use their AAA affiliate Columbus more for depth than actual prospects in case of big injuries. So, unless a large chunk of their roster gets wiped out by injuries, they should be able to weather any storms that arise and at the very least get a wild card spot.


DETROIT TIGERS

2012 Record: 78-84 (3rd)
Predicted 2013 finish: 88-74 (2nd)

Projected Lineup

CF Austin Jackson (.252/.308/.358)
1B Victor Martinez (n/a)
C Jesus Montero (.292/.331/.481)
RF Brennan Boesch (.326/.371/.518)
LF Andy Dirks (.226/.273/.323)
SS Yunel Escobar (.334/.394/.519)
3B Brandon Inge (.249/.311/.388)
2B Don Kelly* (n/a)
DH Jhonny Peralta (.234/.297/.389)

*Kelly is in for injured Ian Kinsler

Projected Rotation

RHP Brandon Beachy (2.91/1.06/.286)
LHP Madison Bumgarner (3.59/1.21/.276)
RHP Aaron Crow (6.24/1.76/.352)
RHP Jacob Turner (4.60/1.47/.317)
RHP Casey Crosby* (4.39/1.34/.298)

*Crosby is starting for injured Doug Fister

Bullpen

LR Felix Doubront
MR Jose Valverde
MR Chance Ruffin
SU Joaquin Benoit
SU Collin Ballester
CL Al Alburquerque

Player to watch: Jesus Montero: Montero came to Detroit as part of the huge Miggy Cabrera blockbuster and instantly loved his new home in the Motor City. Montero hit .337 and five homers in just 24 games for the Tigers before an injury took him out for the rest of the season. Defensive issues aside, Montero looks to be a major part of what is happening in D-Town.

If all goes to plan: The Tigers will definitely be better than last season and if the cards all fall into place, they will challenge for a wild card spot

If the proverbial hits the fan: Injuries killed Detroits chances last season and Fister and Kinsler are both out already, so if the injury bug hits hard again, Detroit could find themselves trying to get out of the basement in the Central.


MINNESOTA TWINS

2012 Record: 80-82 (2nd)
Predicted 2013 finish: 83-79 (3rd)

Projected Lineup

CF Ben Revere (.337/.375/.423)
2B Alexi Amarista (.249/.288/.336)
DH Neil Walker (.270/.325/.419)
SS Troy Tulowitzki (.312/.366/.578)
1B Max Ramirez (.310/.393/.427)
LF Martin Prado (.273/.318/.419)
3B Aramis Ramirez (.227/.315/.349)
RF Ryan Sweeney* (.346/.410/.503)
C Tim Federowicz (.240/.317/.343)

*Sweeney is starting for the injured Franklin Gutierrez

Projected Rotation

RHP Josh Collmenter (4.01/1.25/.301)
RHP Phil Hughes (5.10/1.45/.332)
RHP Josh Tomlin (3.92/1.26/.278)
RHP Liam Hendriks (3.39/1.32/.302)
RHP Carl Pavano (3.52/1.17/.269)

Bullpen

LR Jeff Karstens
MR Jeff Gray
MR Matt Maloney
MR Dae-Eun Rhee
SU Brad Brach
SU Glen Perkins
CL Joe Nathan

Player to watch: Troy Tulowitzki: We all know Tulo is a stud and arguably the best SS in baseball. He has a solid contact rate and plays gold glove calibre defense. However, what we don’t know is how much of Tulo’s offensive success can be attributed to playing a lot of his games last season in the high altitude Corrs Field.

If all goes to plan: Minnesota over-achieved last season but have a legit star and a lot of solid role players this year. A wild card berth is not out of the realm of possibility for them.

If the proverbial hits the fan: If Tulo goes down with an injury, Ian Desmond isn’t good enough to carry this team above .500. They should never be bad enough to drop below Kansas City though.


CHICAGO WHITE SOX

2012 Record: 66-96 (4th)
Predicted 2013 finish: 79-83 (4th)

Projected Lineup

SS Eduardo Escobar* (.270/.304/.382)
CF Alejandro De Aza (.278/.340/.417)
1B Paul Konerko (.310/.418/.504)
DH Dayan Viciedo (.229/.243/.382)
3B Hanley Ramirez (.258/.344/.431)
LF Jose Martinez (n/a)
C Wellington Castillo (.254/.284/.394)
RF Alex Rios (.247/.294/.404)
2B Brandon Phillips (.255/.300/.356)

*Escobar is starting for the injured Alexei Ramirez

Projected Rotation

RHP Edwin Jackson (3.30/1.15/.278)
LHP Jason Vargas (3.94/1.33/.296)
RHP Dillon Gee (5.04/1.53/.321)
LHP Chris Sale (6.42/1.64/.328)
RHP Simon Castro (4.81/1.35/.268)

Bullpen

MR Gregory Infante
MR Rex Brothers
MR Jorge De Leon
MR Chris Mederos
SU Jesse Crain
SU Hector Santiago
CL Addison Reed

Player to watch: Simon Castro: Castro had a solid spring training (1.50 ERA, 0.83 WHIP in 12 IP) which was enough for GM Johnathan Hodges to designate John Danks for assignment and I would assume send him to AAA Charlotte. Castro will be an interesting watch but will be on a short leash as Danks’ contract is very high for a AAA pitcher (or an ML pitcher for that matter).

If all goes to plan: The AL Central is very competitive in spots 2-4 and the White Sox could also challenge for a wild card spot, although everything would need to fall in place and possibly a little luck will be needed also. .500 ball is a more realistic goal and would be considered a big improvement over last season.

If the proverbial hits the fan: I don’t see much depth here meaning if Konerko starts out slow, Sale or Viciedo don’t reach their potential like expected or injuries hit the Pale Hose hard, then I can see Kansas City challenging them for fourth place in the division…but that is a lot of if’s.


KANSAS CITY ROYALS

2012 Record: 59-103 (5th)
Predicted 2013 finish: 55-107 (5th)

Projected Lineup

2B Cesar Hernandez (.285/.326/.406)
SS Stephen Drew (.235/.298/.348)
DH Adam Dunn (.214/.333/.442)
1B Adam Lind (.200/.194/.457)
3B Taylor Green (.242/.304/.464)
C Taylor Teagarden (.234/.295/.333)
LF Matt Clark (.265/.306/.513)
RF Marcell Ozuna (n/a)
CF Alonso Jimenez (.147/.194/.176)

Projected Rotation

RHP Kyle McPherson (5.94/1.63/.308)
RHP Jarrod Parker (5.14/1.48/.322)
LHP Drew Pomeranz (6.15/1.62/.348)
LHP Bruce Chen (3.64/1.32/.289)
RHP Scott Baker (4.52/1.29/.301)

Bullpen

LR John Hellweg
MR Yordano Ventura
MR Austin Adams
MR Joel Zumaya
SU Michael Schwimer
SU Adam Reifer
CL Maikel Cleto

Player to watch: Travis D’Arnaud: At present, Taylor Teagarden is starting at catcher. I can’t see that sticking for long as Teagarden has reached his ceiling; a defensive catcher with good power, whereas D’Arnaud, brought over in the Mike Montgomery deal, has potential to be one of the best catchers in MLB Pro. Keep an eye out for him.

If all goes to plan: The Royals top young guys, D’Arnaud, Kyle McPherson, Austin Adams & Taylor Green, will all pan out and the Royals will show great potential whilst avoiding the worst record in the league.

If the proverbial hits the fan: There is nowhere to go but up…




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