by Nick Hamilton (@NickHamiltonLA)
CHICAGO, IL — When looking at the AL Central, we will see all ends of the spectrum, a team with a potent lineup, a team with a “lights-out” rotation, and a team with a very talented young core.
The Minnesota Twins hit more home runs than any other team last year and added former MVP Josh Donaldson this offseason. He joins a powerful lineup that includes Nelson Cruz, Miguel Sano, Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco, and Eddie Rosario. They will be seen as the favorites to take that division again, not just because of the offense.
Minnesota has a young ace in Jose Berrios and provided some depth behind him acquiring Kenta Maeda and Rich Hill. Relief pitching was a problem last season and they’re hoping former World Series champion Sergio Romo can anchor that bullpen.
The Twins will have their work cut out for them if they’re going to repeat as division winners.
The Cleveland Indians have perhaps the deepest and most devastating rotation in baseball. The collection of arms that include Shane Bieber, Mike Clevinger, Zach Plesac, and Carlos Carrasco are strikeout machines that can silence any lineup.
The issue with Cleveland is a lack of run support behind those arms. Despite having an elite shortstop in Francisco Lindor and another All-Star in Jose Ramirez, the Indians are struggling to plate runs.
“The main thing is hopefully our pitching staff can continue pitching their game,” bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. said, “because you can get in a situation that the pitching staff starts putting pressure on themselves because we aren’t scoring runs.”
The Chicago White Sox have an extremely bright future with all of their young talent like Luis Robert, Eloy Jimenez, Yoan Moncada, Tim Anderson, and Jose Abreu. The Sox bolstered their lineup signing vets like Yasmani Grandal and Edwin Encarnacion.
They will be a fun team to watch this year, and in a weak division during a shortened season, Chicago could get into the playoffs. If their pitching staff can hold up beyond ace Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel, they could surprise everybody.
The shine from the Kansas City Royals’ 2015 World Series championship has dulled. The Royals are hoping new manager Mike Matheny can help keep this team competitive led by Whit Merrifield, Salvador Perez, and Hunter Dozier. However, KC could be sellers at the trade deadline.
The Detroit Tigers have some nice talent like Niko Goodrum, Travis Demirette, and Spencer Turnbull but this will be another down year. Expect them to also be sellers.
The Twins are the favorite to take the AL Central crown as Cleveland and Chicago might not have enough.