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AL Central Preview

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The AL Central produced last season’s World Series champion in the Kansas City Royals. Is there a repeat on the horizon or a new challenger coming to ascend to the throne?

1. Kansas City Royals (won World Series): After the Royals made the World Series but lost in 2014, not many people were projecting them to make it back. But the Royals paced the AL almost all season long, sent a large gathering of players to the All-Star Game, and then not only made it back to the World Series but managed to win it all in dominant fashion. So what do they have in store for this season? They didn’t do much during their offseason but with their young contingent of talent, they didn’t necessarily have to. Usually, teams that stand still after winning it all see a season of decline follow. That’s what we thought was going to happen last year and we all know how that turned out. I’m not going against them again. Count on the Royals to be in the mix for yet another World Series appearance.

2. Cleveland Indians: The Indians managed to have a decent season last year by being one of the best defensive teams in baseball. They’ll need to be able to sustain that defensive success again this season if they want to stay in contention for a division title or a Wild Card berth. The big name to watch on this team is Francisco Lindor. He could become one of the best shortstops in baseball this year.

3. Detroit Tigers: What happened to the Tigers last season? For a team that had won the division for four years in a row, I don’t think anyone was expecting them to struggle the way they did last year. But, next month starts a completely new season and the Tigers will hope to turn the page and be back to their winning ways. Justin Upton and Jordan Zimmermann were two strong free-agent acquisitions. The bullpen has some added firepower and hopefully this team is able to channel another monster season from Miguel Cabrera. Do all that and the Tigers will be a tough team to beat come September and October. Don’t do that and it won’t be a fun season in Motown.

4. Chicago White Sox: Teams 2-4 in the AL Central are in a near deadlock in most power rankings and that’s not hard to see. They can all be 86 or 87 win teams if things go right. Chris Sale will be the ace for a White Sox team that is among the youngest in baseball. If he’s up to his usual tricks and the offense follows suit, Chicago will be able to generate some spotlight. This year, they’ll also have to do it living in the shadow of their crosstown rival for the first time in a decade or so.

5. Minnesota Twins: And then we come to the Twins. According to analytics, the Twins were one of the luckiest teams in baseball last season. Hits seemed to come at the right time and pitchers managed to come up in the clutch when needed. Some call that luck while others call that good timing. I call it unlikely to happen again.

Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Matt Weingarten

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