We are now into the Central Division previews for MLB. We are going to start with the AL Central and give some high-level overviews of each team and sprinkle in some thoughts on where there might be value for futures. If you want the entire list of future plays from BTB, Jesse, and myself, click the Buy Packages link above.
Chicago White Sox, 1st Place, 93-69
The White Sox, in theory, should be one of the best teams in all of baseball. In their first year under Tony La Russa, they took first place in the division and had one of the best records in the American League. They were promptly eliminated from the playoffs, though. I loved their rotation, but losing Carlos Rodon is a bigger loss than you’d think. Rodon, when healthy, was one of the best pitchers in the league. As far as the rest of the team, their hitting can match with almost anyone and it will be a task, daily, for opposing pitchers to get through this lineup. One other note, someone needs to tell La Russa to put Kimbrel as the closer – the guy is horrible in any inning that isn’t the 9th. They should easily win the division again this year, but there isn’t much value.
Cleveland Indians Guardians, 2nd Place, 80-82
In what seems like a never-ending run of impressive arms, the Cleveland Guardians always seem like they have a chance. Even when the rest of the team appears to be held together by duct tape, they get some guys that throw the ball like Cy Young contenders and keep the team relevant. I am not high on the Guardians this year, I think that their best player, Jose Ramirez, will be traded by the deadline. Will they trade away some of their arms? I doubt it, but it is possible. Shane Bieber is currently the second favorite for AL Cy Young. That to me has some decent value at +700. He started with a 2.76 ERA in April and it kept increasing as the season went on before he was shut down from June until September. I probably won’t play it as I think you can find a better number on him during the season.
Detroit Tigers, 3rd Place, 77-85
One of the better teams in Major League Baseball post All-Star Break was the Detroit Tigers. After an abysmal start to the campaign, they responded with mostly the same roster. They still don’t have the pitching staff to get them into the playoffs, or to really make an impact on the season, but they can at least be more competitive than they were last season. Hopefully for them, they can carry over the momentum and start the year stronger. They added Javier Baez to the team which should at least make them entertaining. If Baez is hot, he can carry a team for a short stretch, but we can’t expect the Tigers to instantly become contenders just because of him.
Kansas City Royals, 4th Place, 74-88
Just a few short years ago, Zack Greinke signing with the Royals, or really any team, would’ve been a big deal. Now, basically the one offseason move they made makes no splash or news. Realistically, though, are the Royals trying to win? Probably not. They do have some nice pieces still. I like Benintendi, I like Mondesi, Santana still has some bop in his bat, and Whit Merrifield has proven to be one of the more consistent players in baseball. The books are saying the Royals will essentially be the exact same team this year. I think they will be a bit worse.
Minnesota Twins, 5th Place, 73-89
Well, the Twins went from the playoffs to last in their division in just one year. They were expected to compete for their division and they failed miserably. Carlos Correa is now on the roster, as is Gary Sanchez. Will they make a big difference? Who knows. Correa is a talented player, but this isn’t basketball where one player can make all the difference. They still have a rough rotation, even though it was bolstered by Sonny Gray. Can the Twins win more than the 73 games from last year? I have to assume so, but they don’t have the team to compete with the White Sox in the division. I think that it ends Sox, Tigers, Twins – that pays at +800.
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