2023 American League Central Division Preview

Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

2023 American League Central Division Preview

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2023 American League Central Division Preview

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Major League Baseball opens its regular season in just 10 short days. The American League Central is the fourth of six division previews as the Cleveland Guardians look to defend its 2022 Division crown. Both the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins look to bounce back with strong rosters while the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals continue its respective rebuilds. The AL Central has the potential to be a dogfight down the stretch or a runaway-and-hide situation for the Guardians. 

Kansas City Royals – projected record 65-97 – 5th AL Central

While the Royals have a slew of exciting young players and prospects, the team is still a few years away from being competitive. It will be a bridge year for Bobby Whitt Jr. who now has a full year of MLB play under his belt. Salvador Perez and rookie MJ Melendez are the only other big bats in the Kansas City lineup at the moment. The pitching is not horrible for the Royals as its rotation features veterans Zack Greinke, Jordan Lyles and Ryan Yarbrough. Former high pitching prospect Brady Singer enters a sort of “prove-it year” after a solid 2022 season. The bullpen is not terrible as Scott Barlow, Dylan Coleman, Aroldis Chapman and Amir Garrett will give some lineups issues at the end of games. Overall, the Royals are still a few years away from anything special.

Detroit Tigers – projected record 70-92 – 4th AL Central

The Tigers have a very solid lineup. Javier Baez, Jonathan Schoop, Austin Meadows and Miguel Cabrera will be good mentors for the young studs that begin to enter the major leagues for Detroit. Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene headline the group of high-level prospects entering their first full big-league season. While the lineup can make some noise, the pitching is just downright bad. Eduardo Rodriguez will headline a rotation with Matthew Boyd and Michael Lorenzen as its numbers two and three arms. The bullpen just gets worse as it has a case for the worst group in the league. I like to pride myself on having a well above-average knowledge of Major League Baseball and I could not name one of the projected arms in the Detroit bullpen. This team is going to have to win a ton of high-scoring baseball games.

Minnesota Twins – projected record 82-80 – 3rd AL Central

The Twins enter 2023 with a solid roster including a lineup with a ton of potential upside. Byron Buxton, Carlos Correa, Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler and Christian Vazquez will provide a solid base for Minnesota while Joey Gallo and Jose Miranda will look to provide the lineup with consistent depth. 

The Minnesota starting rotation looks very good on paper as well. Pablo Lopez will be the ace of the group after we was acquired from Miami this winter. Sonny Gray, Joe Ryan and Tyler Mahle will fill out the rotation as Chris Paddack will be returning from Tommy John surgery early in the season. The bullpen is where problems could arise for the Twins as its backend currently consists of Jorge Lopez, Jhoan Duran and Griffin Jax. The pen is full of players who do not have much big-league experience which could end up proving costly.

Chicago White Sox – projected record 86-76 – 2nd AL Central

The White Sox have now been underperforming with its current core long enough to have reasonable doubt about its potential this season. Tim Anderson, Luis Robert, Eloy Jimenez and Yoan Moncada will not be joined by Andrew Benintendi as the lineup once again looks dangerous on paper. Chicago’s rotation is headline by Dylan Cease who broke out last season. Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito, Mike Clevinger and Michael Kopech round out the rotation. 

The bullpen features Kendall Graveman in the ninth inning with Aaron Bummer and Joe Kelly as the setup men. While there are other household names in the pen, the consistency of these veterans is still in question. The pen and high strikeout rate of its hitters could end up this team’s eventual downfall.

Cleveland Guardians – projected record 95-67 – 1st AL Central

Cleveland came out of nowhere and shocked the league, winning the Central comfortably last season. The Guardians will not be sneaking up on anybody this season as favorites to win the division. The lineup was upgraded this offseason with the additions of Josh Bell and Mike Zunino to fill out a group that already features Joe Ramirez, Steven Kwan, Josh Naylor, Andres Gimenez and Oscar Gonzalez. Myles Straw and Amed Rosario make the Guardian lineup one of the best and most underrated in the league.

Cleveland’s strong suit is its pitching, though. The starting rotation is led by Shane Bieber and also features breakout star Triston McKenzie along with Cal Quantrill, Aaron Civale and Zach Plesac. Flamethrowing closer Emmanuel Clase is the feature piece of a lights-out bullpen. James Karinchak, Trevor Stephan and Nick Sandin are other influential arms in the young pen. The Guardians are going to be a solid team and could make a deep run come October.

TEAM WINS LOSSES GAMES BACK PLAYOFFS?
Cleveland Guardians 95 67 YES – AL #3
Chicago White Sox 86 76 9.0 NO
Minnesota Twins 82 80 13.0 NO
Detroit Tigers 70 92 25.0 NO
Kansas City Royals 65 97 30.0 NO

 

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