American League Central Preview

by Maize_in_Spartyland

The Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox get baseball started on April 5th, with a game at 1:10 PM EST at Comerica Park. At 3:05 PM EST, the Cleveland Indians and Toronto Blue Jays faceoff at Progressive Field. The start of the major league season means a new beginning for each of the 30 teams – each team has an equal shot at making the post season. While each team starts with the same record, the end result won’t be the same.

Today, I’ll cover the American League Central teams, offering a prediction as to whether each team will exceed or fall short of their expectations.

Chicago White Sox

Manager: Robin Ventura, first year

Last Division Title: 2008

Last AL Pennant: 2005

Last World Series Title: 2005

Last Season Record: 79-83

Key Changes: Lost SP Mark Buehrle, RP Sergio Santos, and OFs Juan Pierre and Carlos Quentin; added OF Kosuke Fukudome

LVH over/under win total: 74

The White Sox weren’t a bad team last year – they were just below the middle of the league in ERA and batting average. With the power hitting Quentin struggling to hit the ball, the White Sox finished below .500 for the second time in three years. On August 30th, the White Sox were 68-65, only 3 games back of AL Central Champion Detroit; they finished the season 11-18, including an 0-6 mark against the Tigers, 16 games back of Detroit. Adding Fukudome means a more consistent bat – be he isn’t a power hitter – he was a reliable hitter when he was with the Cubs in the Friendly Confines. Quentin was more of a power hitter, but very streaky. Chicago will struggle to replace Buehrle, who has been one of their best pitchers in recent years. The White Sox will have a rotation of John Danks, Jake Peavy, Gavin Floyd, Chris Sale, and Philip Humber.

Over/under win total projection: Over

Cleveland Indians

Manager: Manny Acta, third year

Last Division Title: 2007

Last AL Pennant: 1997

Last World Series Title: 1948

Last Season Record: 80-82

Key Changes: Lost DH Jim Thome; added 1B Casey Kotchman, SPs Derek Lowe and Kevin Slowey

LVH over/under win total: 78.5

Cleveland was in the bottom third in all of baseball in team ERA, 4.23. Adding Lowe may seem like it would help, but if you look at his numbers in Atlanta, you’d notice a decline. Cleveland was middle of the road in scoring runs and batting average – having a healthy Grady Sizemore would help, but don’t expect that this season, as Sizemore had back surgery and will be out at least 1-2 months. If Choo can return to his 2009 form and if the younger guys can help out, the Indians might have a shot at the postseason. Expect the Indians starting rotation to be Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Derek Lowe, Josh Tomlin, and Jeanmar Gomez. Until Roberto Hernandez (formerly known as Fausto Carmona) is cleared by Major League Baseball, he won’t be in Cleveland.

Over/under win total projection: Under

Detroit Tigers

Manager: Jim Leyland, first year

Last Division Title: 2011

Last AL Pennant: 2006

Last World Series Title: 1984

Last Season Record: 95-67

Key Changes: Lost OF Magglio Ordonez, IF Carlos Guillen, and SP Brad Penny; added RP Octavio Dotel and 1B Prince Fielder

LVH over/under win total: 92.5

Panic in Detroit set in when word was Victor Martinez suffered an ACL injury, putting him out for most, if not all, of the 2012 season. Surprising most, GM Dave Dombrowski, at the direction of Mike Illitch, made the decision to sign Prince Fielder. Fielder’s father, Cecil, was a well-known first baseman who played with the Tigers from 1990-1996. Detroit lost Ordonez, Guillen, and Penny in the offseason – none of which are major losses, as Ordonez’s production was rapidly declining, Guillen was often injured, and Penny’s spot in the rotation was replaceable. Detroit was fourth in runs scored in 2011 and third in batting average (.277); their team ERA (4.04) was in the bottom half of the league though, with the middle inning relief pitchers being the concern. The addition of Dotel should help, although the Tigers will be without RP Al Albuquerque for most of the season, due to an elbow injury. Expect a starting rotation of Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, and Drew Smyly. Duane Below will pitch out of the bullpen, while Jacob Turner will start with the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens.

Over/under win total projection: Over

Kansas City Royals

Manager: Ned Yost, second full year

Last Division Title: 1985 (then, the West Division)

Last AL Pennant: 1985

Last World Series Title: 1985

Last Season Record: 71-91

Key Changes: Lost SP Jeff Francis and OF Melky Cabrera; added SP Jonathan Sanchez and RP Jonathan Broxton

LVH over/under win total: 80.5

The Royals haven’t had a winning season since 2003. Since the 2003 campaign, the Royals have averaged 65.4 wins per season. Kansas City hasn’t won at least 90 games since 1989, and last made the playoffs in 1985. If you look at the moves the Royals made in the offseason, there simply weren’t many. So why is this team being talked about as a possibility to finish second or third in the AL Central? Simply put, continuity and a bevy of first round draft picks have allowed the Royals to be restocked with young, cheap talent. Following Tampa Bay’s model (and using the New York Yankees’ luxury tax), the Royals have improved each season since 2009. Starting pitching is a concern for the Royals, as they were in the bottom third in the all of baseball in quality starts, but relief pitching has been worse. With Joakim Soria likely out for the year with elbow trouble, the Royals will be scrambling to find a closer. Luckily, the Royals got Broxton in the offseason, who closed games previously with the Dodgers. Believe it or not, the Royals were one of the most productive teams, offensively, last season. Kansas City was in the top third in runs scored and fourth in overall batting average (.275) for MLB. Expect a starting rotation of Bruce Chen, Luke Hochevar, Jonathan Sanchez, Luis Mendoza, and Danny Duffy. Felipe Paulino will start the season on the DL due to elbow trouble, but once he is healthy, he will return to the starting rotation.

Over/under win total projection: Over

Minnesota Twins

Manager: Rod Gardenhire, eleventh season

Last Division Title: 2010

Last AL Pennant: 1991

Last World Series Title: 1991

Last Season Record: 63-99

Key Changes: Lost RP Joe Nathan, SP Kevin Slowey, OFs Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel; added RP Joel Zumaya (and lost him to injury), C Ryan Doumit,

LVH over/under win total: 73

Ron Gardenhire has been one of the more successful managers in major league baseball, making the playoffs in six of his ten years managing. His record hasn’t been great in the playoffs though, as the Twins are 2-15 in their last five playoff appearances under Gardenhire. Until last season, the Twins had only one losing record under Gardenhire, in 2007, when the Twins were 79-83. With their numerous injuries, its no surprise the Twins struggled the way they did. With Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Nathan, and Tsuyoshi Nishioka being out parts of the year, the Twins were never able to pose a threat to the Tigers in 2011. We think the Twins are a bit undervalued, to be honest. We won’t go so far as to say the Twins will be in the postseason, but Gardenhire is one of the game’s better managers. With a healthy team, the Twins could finish above .500. Already the Twins are down a player, as anticipated setup man, Zumaya, is out for the season – his career is likely in jeopardy as well. Expect a starting rotation of Carl Pavano, Francisco Liriano, Liam Hendriks, and Nick Blackburn. Jason Marquis has been away from the team, tending to a family emergency; while Marquis is gone, expect Hendriks to fill into the fifth spot in the rotation. Scott Baker was placed on the 15-day DL. Not even Opening Day and the Twins are already down a pair of pitchers – not good.

Over/under win total projection: Under

One response

  1. Pingback: New Content Added: Week of April 1st | beforevisitingthesportsbook

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