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The AL Central was one of the most competitive divisions in baseball last season. The almost three-way tie between the top three teams made for some interesting playoff implications coming out of baseball’s Midwest crucible.
2021 will be no different, but with a full 162 game slate there will be a little more separation at the top of the division. The AL Central will also have some of the most exciting young teams in the league looking to build on some successful prospect development. Regardless, this will be one of the league’s most intense divisions in 2021.
Chicago White Sox
2020-21 Record: 35-25
The White Sox were a surprise last season to many. They seemed to have it all working, ranking top ten in multiple offensive and defensive categories. With that being said, the Chicago brass wanted to go in a different direction, firing Rick Renteria and hiring Tony LaRussa as the new manager of the club.
The White Sox, though a very balanced team, needed help in the closer department. They got just that by inking a four-year deal with highly touted closer Liam Hendriks. That addition coupled with the fact that they kept their batting rotation seemingly intact, makes the White Sox a team to watch this year.
Over/Under Win Total: 95 Wins
2020-21 Record: 36-24
The Minnesota Twins were painstakingly average even though they won the central division in 2020. They have done a lot to improve upon that this summer with some key additions and roster retention in key areas.
Keeping the age defying designated hitter Nelson Cruz to balance out the batting rotation was big for Minnesota. Also, replacing Marwin Gonzalez with Luis Arraez gives them a younger, better defender with a better bat to insert into the rotation. The Twins could be dangerous, but their pitching needs leave something to desired.
Over/Under WIn Total: 85 Wins
2020-21 Record: 35-25
The Indians were a very strong team last year in the AL Central, making the playoffs after missing them the year prior. Despite not having a strong offensive repertoire, they leaned heavily on their pitching and defense to win games. That is going to be an issue this year due to losing both Francisco Lindor and Cesar Hernández this offseason.
With no major additions in the offseason and being in position to be major players at the trade deadline, this team is surprisingly still solid. Shane Bieber is a great starter and makes it easy to get a rotation built around him. They also still have bats like Andres Gimenez, Cesar Hernández, Jose Ramirez and Ames Rosario, who will be integral to the batting rotation. Expect the Indians to be a team that can make a push for the postseason after the deadline.
Over/Under Win Total: 75 Wins
2020-21 Record: 23-35
The Tigers were one of the worst teams in the league last season statistically. Their lack of pitching and effective bats put them in a tough spot that they couldn’t recover from and sunk their 2020 campaign, resulting in their third last place divisional finish in four years. They have started to rebuild and look to see improvement in 2021.
With the arrival of prospects like pitchers Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal, third baseman Isaac Paredes and outfielder Daz Cameron, this Tigers team finally has young cornerstone pieces to build on. Even with those building blocks, the Tigers need depth in the bullpen and fielding positions to be a competitive team. If spring ball has shown anything, they are on the right track.
Over/Under Win Total: 50 Wins
Kansas City Royals
2020-21 Record: 26-34
The Royals were a team in rebuild mode last season and showed some flashes of solid play. The lone bright spot for KC is their elite farm system and ability to cultivate and develop prospects into contributors. From that farm system they have produced pitchers like Brady Singer and Kris Bubic.
The issue with the Royals is that even with prospects who can contribute, they don’t have enough veteran help around them to curve the growing pains. Taking their outfield into consideration, the best players are Edward Olivares (25) and Nick Heath (27). That is the case with the entire roster, the oldest player being Jarrod Dyson who is 33. The Royals are maybe a year or two and a solid experienced veteran away from competing in a very tough Central Division.
Over/Under Win Total: 45 Wins