The AL central has been a division that fans have a keen eye on come September. The division is full of excellent hitters, and some top tier pitching as well. While Detroit won the division as expected, the Indians gave them a solid fight and could have the same amount of success. Meanwhile Kansas City, the White Sox, and Twins all have interesting futures ahead.
1.) Detroit Tigers
2014: Projected Record: 90-72
The Detroit Tigers had a good run that ended in Boston last year, and it left a sour taste in their mouths. The Tigers went right to work in December to figure out what would help them win a world series. GM Dave Dombrowolski decided to give a call to the Texas Rangers and work out a blockbuster deal that involved the Tigers acquiring second baseman Ian Kinsler, and the Rangers getting super slugger Prince Fielder. The team isn’t really missing much in it’s depth chart either. Detroit moves Miguel Cabrera back to first base, and Tori Hunter returns healthy with a young and hungry Austin Jackson. The focal point that will lift Detroit to a division title is the pitching rotation that includes Cy Young winners Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and Anibal Sanchez.
2.) Cleveland Indians
2014 Projected Record: 88-74
Cleveland returns strong and manager Terry Francona has the pieces to put Cleveland into serious contention. The Indians have a deep lineup that can do some serious damage down the stretch. With a strong outfield led by Michael Bourn, and David Murphy, and an infield anchored by Nick Swisher, Carlos Santana, and Asdrubal Cabrera, the Indians have one of the better defensive teams in the league. They do need some pitching help as Justin Masterson is the work hoarse and top dog in the rotation.
3.) Kansas City Royals
2013 Record: 86-76
2014 Projected Record:84-78
Manager Ned Yost had the hot seat from the start last year and with the help of a young team, the seat got cooler and cooler. The Royals have a top notch farm system that allows them to consistently develop young stars of tomorrow. Some of the minor league alumni include Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, and Alex Gordon. The Royals also have a good second baseman in Omar Infante who can creat trouble when contact with the ball is made. Despite an improved team, the Royals like Cleveland, need more pitching.
4.) Chicago White Sox
2014 Projected Record: 62-100
The White Sox will have to begin a major rebuilding project. The team does have a sharp pitching ace in Chris Sale, but will need a lot more. Gordon Beckham and Jeff Keppinger are expected to start the season on the disabled list, taking away two bats off the lineup card for Robin Ventura. Connor Gillespie, Adam Dunn, and Alexi Ramirez all have to step up early on in order to make this season an adventure for the south side.
5.) Minnesota Twins
2013 Record: 63-99
2014 Projected Record: 60-102
The Twins are obviously in rebuilding mode. Minnesota has a strong and developing rotation featuring Ricky Nolasco, Kevin Correia, and veteran Mike Pelfrey. Joe Mauer moves from behind the plate to first base.The outfield is led by Josh Willingham and Jason Kubel returns as a DH. Ron Gardenhire can build a strong future for Minnesota and it starts this year.