Tuesday, April 3, 2012

MLB 2012 Preview: AL Central

5. Chicago White Sox: Last year, this team was the favorite to win their division. Now, they are contenders for the cellar. Gone are Mark Buehrle, Carlos Quentin, Juan Pierre and Sergio Santos. The after seeing all these players leave, the Sox will let their minor leagues fill their holes on the major league roster, which will give them some problems. Their lineup could be good, but they would need improved production out of Adam Dunn. Their starting five could be solid, but they need a full season from Jake Peavy. And their bullpen has a nice back end, but the key is get to them early. Its going to be a long season on the south side. White Sox finish last.

4. Kansas City Royals: A fair warning to the teams in this division: Don't slack off when pitching to Kansas City. Because this is a team that can put up some runs. The problem here is, they lack good pitching. The Royals did go out and acquire Jonathon Sanchez from SF this offseason, but he is not enough to save this staff (Lead by Opening Day starter Bruce Chen). And to make matters worse, the team will be without closer Joakim Soria for the remainder of the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. The Royals will get into a lot of high scoring games, but their pitching will not be good enough to hold those leads.

3. Minnesota Twins: As we talked about yesterday, there are a lot of questions surrounding the Twins in 2012. First and foremost, they have to stay healthy, especially Mauer and Morneau in the middle of the lineup. Their starting rotation could go either way as we've seen the past two years. And if you get into this bullpen early, there will be some problems. Ultimately, we believe that there won't be as many injuries in 2012, they won't finish in last place, but they do good enough to come in third place.

2. Cleveland Indians: Last year, we saw the Indians have an incredibly hot start and were one of the best teams in baseball early on. But they faded horribly and watched their lead in the division slip away to Detroit and the team barely finished at the .500 mark. But they return this with essentially the same team, but a young one at that. The Tribe should have a good pitching staff (Starters Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Derek Lowe, and closer Chris Perez lead the way) this year. But their offense strikes me as a wild card. They really need production from Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner to have a chance to succeed in this division, something they may not get too much of. The Tribe make a stronger push for the title in 2012, but once again, they fall short.

1. Detroit Tigers: Before the winter, Detroit already had a very good offense. But during the offseason, they signed the second best player on the free agent market, Prince Fielder. Now, the Tigers have a great offense when you put Fielder and Miguel Cabrera in the middle of the order. Then add the fact the Tigers have a very good all around pitching staff (led by MVP/Cy Young winner Justin Verlander), and this will be one good baseball team. Last year, the Tigers fell short to Texas in the ALCS, but, if they can keep everyone healthy, they should have no trouble making a similar postseason run. The Tigers run away with this division and should be seen as contenders for the AL Pennant.

*Tomorrow look for our final post in the MLB preview series as we recap our division winners, pick the postseason winners, and pick some award winners.

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