Next up in my division by division previews is the American League Central. In 2018, the A.L. Central was by far the weakest division in the American League. A mix of disappointing seasons and a handful of rebuilding clubs made for a very lackluster 2018 for the division as a whole. Despite such a sub-par year across the board the A.L. Central has the potential to be a very interesting division in 2018.
Cleveland Indians (2018 Record:91-71)
The Indians were the lone playoff team in the Central last season and were the only club in the division to finish with a winning record. However this didn’t lead to much success in the playoffs as they were promptly dispatched by the Houston Astros in three games. The Indians have made a fair amount of moves so far this offseason, including dealing Edwin Encarnacion to the Mariners in exchange for Carlos Santana and trading Yonder Alonso to the White Sox. Cleveland may still not be done as they have been openly listening to offers on pitchers Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer. The way the roster is currently constructed doesn’t give much hope of a long run in October, but it should still be enough to wrap up what is still a fairly weak division.
2019 Record Prediction: 88-74
Minnesota Twins (2018 Record:78-84)
The Twins entered 2018 coming off of a surprise playoff appearance in 2017, and the club looked to prove that it wasn’t a fluke. As it turned out the Twins finished just a measly 78-84 last season causing them to be on the outside looking in at the end of the year. However the Twins look much different heading into 2019. For starters they moved on from manager Paul Molitor and made a bold decision by hiring Rocco Baldelli to be their next skipper. At just 37 years old, Baldelli is currently the youngest manager in the big leagues. Outside of hiring a new manager, the Twins brought in infielder Jonathan Schoop and outfielder Nelson Cruz, adding two big bats to the middle of their lineup, something they lacked for much of last season. The Twins have the potential to compete in 2019, and will at the very least be an interesting team to watch throughout the season, but at the end of the day they aren’t a playoff contender quite yet in what is a top heavy American League.
2019 Record Prediction: 83-79
Chicago White Sox (2018 Record:62-100)
2018 was a learning experience for the White Sox. They are in the late stages of a rebuild and are starting to see some of the highly touted prospects such as Michael Kopech hit the big leagues. Chicago has reason to be optimistic about next season for multiple reasons, chief among them being the arrival of top prospect Eloy Jimenez, a power hitting outfielder. He has been advertised as a franchise altering bat, similar to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in Toronto. Adding his bat along with new acquisition, Yonder Alonso, should give the White Sox so much needed pop in the middle of their order. The White Sox will also depend on their pitching for much of their success this year. Even with phenom Michael Kopech expected to sit out due to Tommy John surgery, the Southsiders still have some solid arms in their rotation including Carlos Rodon and Lucas Giolito. If everything goes right for the Sox they should be one of the more exciting young clubs to watch in 2019.
2019 Record Prediction: 75-87
Kansas City Royals (2018 Record:58-104)
The Royals are coming off of an absolutely terrible season in 2018, and are no doubt looking to right the ship going into 2019. Kansas City is in a clear rebuild now with key pieces to their World Series Championship team in 2015 have since left the organization. With that being said I think 2019 will be much kinder to the Royals. The addition of Billy Hamilton gives them a legitimate center fielder and an elite base stealer. Adding him to the lineup gives them a huge boost in the field and on the bases as Hamilton can be penciled in to steal 30 bags. While the Royals are in the beginning stages of their rebuild they definitely won’t be as bad as they were in 2018.
2019 Record Prediction:63-99
Detroit Tigers (2018 Record:64-98)
The Tigers are clearly trying to rebuild as evidenced by their 64-98 record last season. I expect more of the same in 2019 and they haven’t made any smaller moves to make the team at least interesting to watch while the organization continues to bring its prospects along. Michael Fulmer will likely anchor the Detroit rotation in 2019, but there is always a chance he is dealt by the July deadline, as many teams have checked on his availability in the last two seasons. Overall the Tigers are very unlikely to be anywhere near good and will find themselves as basement dwellers in a weak A.L. Central.
2019 Record Prediction: 60-102