The American League Central is arguably the weakest division in baseball, and right now it’s the Chicago White Sox’s to lose. Read to find out why the AL Central crown is anything but a sure thing.
Making Sense of the American League Central
There are now less than two weeks to go until Opening Day. One of the most head-scratching divisions in baseball at the outset of the new season is the American League Central.
On the surface it may seem like the Chicago White Sox have it on lock, but there’s more than meets the eye here. Both the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins have added big name shortstops to their rosters in Javier Baez and Carlos Correa, respectively.
The AL Central will be the weakest division in baseball in 2022 and the White Sox cannot coast if they want to get back to October this year. The AL Central crown is anyone’s for the taking right now.
Chicago White Sox:
It’s an incredibly talented offense, too. The White Sox came in 5th in team batting average, hits and top 10 in runs scored, runs batted in and doubles.
The White Sox had no challengers for division champs in 2021, but got absolutely exposed by the Astros in the playoffs. A huge reason why Chicago wasn’t up to the task in October was because their division was such a cupcake.
Now that the division has improved and the White Sox have lost one of their key starters in Carlos Rodon, it’s put up or shut up time on the South Side. This elevation of competition will either heighten the White Sox’s ability to win or expose them as frauds. They’re the favorite with good reason right now, but this team has a lot of pressure to improve and get back to October.
The Tigers have had a historically bad run since 2017. They haven’t finished with a winning percentage better than .475 since 2016.
However, in 2021, they showed significant signs of improvement. The team went 77-85, finishing in 3rd in the Central. They have a lot of young talent with huge potential in addition to having used this past offseason to make significant improvements.
The main goal for this team should be winning consistently and playing sound baseball. The Tigers have the opportunity to really surprise the baseball world in 2022 and exceed expectations. They’re the best bet to steal the division title from the White Sox.
The Twins just made one of the biggest moves of the offseason by signing All-Star Shortstop Carlos Correa. It’s a three year deal that will likely see him in Minnesota for no longer than two seasons at the maximum.
The Twins have made some changes to their roster through trades with the Yankees and Rangers. They signed starting pitcher Sonny Gray but other than that the Twins’ rotation doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.
They have a very talented offense behind guys like Jorge Polanco, Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton in addition to Correa now. Despite a lackluster 2021, the Twins finished 5th in home runs and 9th in total bases.
If they can win consistently against the rest of their division, Minnesota has a chance to sneak into the playoffs in 2022.
Kansas City Royals:
The Royals have had a tough go of it since winning the 2015 World Series. They haven’t had a winning season since that year and have consistently finished in 4th place in the AL Central.
The pitching staff struggled in 2021, but they’ll be helped by the return of veteran Zack Greinke who pitched for the Royals from 2004-2010, winning the AL Cy Young Award in 2009.
The Royals have the chance to over deliver this season and exceed their 75.5 over/under for total regular season wins. Again, it’ll come down to being able to consistently compete against the rest of their division.
Unfortunately for Cleveland fans, their city’s baseball team will likely be a last place finisher in their inaugural season as the Guardians.
The team finished in 2nd place in the AL Central in 2021, but they’ve made no significant major league signings and have watched as the rest of their division has made strides to improve.
There’s a lot of scattered talent on the Guardians but this just is not a winning ball club. Players like Jose Ramirez, Franmil Reyes, Shane Bieber and Aaron Civale. Look for at least two of those players to be dealt at this season’s trade deadline.
It’s going to be a long and frustrating rebuild for the Cleveland Guardians and it starts this season. This team is one of the bottom three in MLB in total payroll and their record this season will reflect that.
Three Bold Predictions for 2022
1) Tim Anderson will win the 2022 batting title
2) The Guardians are not going to win more than 70 games
3) The Tigers will make the postseason for the first time since 2014
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