Friday, March 18, 2016

2016 Predictions - AL Central

.    With the 2016 MLB season right around the corner, we have already taken a look at the AL East. Today, we are going to examine the AL Central division. This division has represented the American League in three out of the last four world series. Can Kansas City make it three straight trips to the Fall Classic? Let's look.
5. Chicago White Sox

     Last season was a rough year for the Pale Hose, and I'm not sure 2016 is going to be much better. Jeff Samardzija and his 4.97 ERA are gone. And, while that might not be such a bad thing, it forces the likes of Carlos Rodon and Jose Quintana to step up their games. Gavin Floyd and Alexi Ramirez, too, are gone.  They did get Todd Frazier, Brett Lawrie and Jimmy Rollins to help bolster this lineup. However, unless Kris Sale wins 30 games, and Todd Frazier breaks Barry Bonds' home run record, this team won't finish any higher then fifth in their division.

4. Cleveland Indians

     Similar to the Tampa Bay Rays, the Indians are loaded with young starting pitching. Two of the most sought after players via trade this off-season were Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco.  Despite having 2014's Cy Young Award winner, Corey Kluber, to go along with their other talented starting pitching, their offense will be their demise.  Michael Brantley will miss a considerable amount of time with his shoulder injury.  They traded Michael Bourne, Brandon Moss and Nick Swisher last season and Raburn is now in Colorado.  I don't know where their offensive production is going to come from, and, I don't know if they do either.  Ultimately, like Tampa, I have them finishing fourth.

3. Minnesota Twins

     The Minnesota Twins were possibly the biggest surprise of the 2015 season. They finished the season with 83 wins and nearly made the playoffs, but settled for second place in the division.  The twin cities have some of the best up and coming talent in all of the game, as evidenced by the play of Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton and Aaron Hicks.    And even though they shipped hicks to the Bronx, they received a catcher who is more than capable of calling a great game in the form of John Ryan Murphy.  Brian Dozier had what many consider to be his breakout season, capitulated by his making his first All-Star team. Even with Ervin Santana missing the first 50 games of the season, due to a failed drug test, they still managed to hold their own in the division that held the reigning AL champs.   I know I am not going to make the same mistake of picking them last again. Period. Fool me once shame on you, full me twice shame on me.

2. Detroit Tigers

     When you traded David Price during a season, you expect to get something of major value in return.  The Tigers did just that when they acquired Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd from the Blue Jays at the trade deadline last season. Norris is widely considered to be a potential number two, with a very high ceiling.  Motown also acquired Jordan Zimmerman this off-season to help fill the hole left by the departed Price. A lineup that already includes Ian Kinsler, Miggy Cabrera and a rising star in the form of J.D. Martinez,  just got more robust with the addition of Justin Upton.  Bullpen was another major issue for this team last season,  which they addressed by adding the likes of Joaquin Benoit, Justin Wilson and  Francisco Rodriguez. If they can avoid any major injuries, this team could make some serious noise in the Central.

1. Kansas City Royals

     What else is there to say about the defending world Champs that has not already been said. Yes, they lost Johnny Cueto in free agency, but signed in Kennedy, who has a great relationship with Royals pitching coach Dave Island, dating back to their days together in the Bronx.  They re-signed Alex Gordon and managed to maintain their core which brought them there championship last season. Edinson Volquez had one of the guttiest performances in postseason history last year after losing his father the day of game one of the World Series.  They have one of, if not, the most complete  team in the game and should be a force to be reckoned with for seasons to come.

 Fire away.

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