Last season the White Sox were on a mission to show everyone that the AL Central was their’s now. What they didn’t know was that some of the other teams were about to make some moves. Was it enough to dethrone Chicago?
We are getting you ready for Opening Day by previewing each division. Yesterday you got a taste of the AL East. Now we are going to hit you with the AL Central.
In order of finish from 2021 (Record)
Chicago White Sox (93-69)
The White Sox need to keep their first-round exits, from the past two years actually, behind them. Everyone was hyped to see if Carlos Rodon could match his top-five Cy Young finishing season last year. Unfortunately, he was signed by the Giants this offseason. Big loss for a squad that can use the starting pitching help. On the other hand, this gives everyone a good look at what Michael Kopech can really do. One of their strong suits was their bullpen. So they decided to make it even stronger by bringing in Joe Kelly. He may rely on his Curveball, but at 97.5 MPH his four-seamer can sneak in on you. Which should help with upcoming news that Garrett Crochet may need Tommy John Surgery.
The White Sox had one of the better offenses in the league last year, headlined by Eloy Jimenez and MVP caliber hitter Luis Robert. They still needed help in that outfield, especially right field, so they went ahead and traded an inconsistent Craig Kimbrel to the Dodgers for AJ Pollock. Now, it is unclear if they will try him at right field or let him play left and move Jimenez over to right. Either way, his bat is a great addition to the team.
Cleveland Guardians (80-82)
Let’s be real here, Cleveland always finds a way to stay relevant. They don’t spend much money on players. Their biggest signing of the year so far has been Catcher Luke Maile to a $900K deal. The brightest spot in their lineup is perennial All-Star and MVP vote-getter Jose Ramirez. This is his free agent year, so will we finally see Cleveland spend some money and extend him to a big contract? If they were smart, they would make sure to lock up one of the best hitters in the game as soon as possible.
One thing the Guardians consistently succeed at, is developing their pitching. Once again their pitching staff will be led by the ace Shane Bieber. At only 26, he should have a long career ahead of him and should be able to add some more hardware along with his 2020 Cy Young Award. The bullpen has some strong arms as well. With guys like James Karinchak and Emmanuel Clase, who can easily hit 95 MPH and 100 MPH respectively, they might not have to worry about their offense too much
There were only 7 SP in 2021 with a…
≥ 20% K-BB%
≥ 40% GB%
≥ 10% IFFB%
≥ 15% Soft%
— Raysin (@TheRaysin) April 2, 2022
Detroit Tigers (77-85)
The Tigers are a team that you have no idea what they will do in the AL Central. Are they going to compete soon? When will their big prospects come up and start making a difference? Everyone is excited to see what Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene can do. In the meantime, the Tigers went ahead and made one of the first and bigger splashes in free agency with the signing of Javier Baez. This was not a move that people anticipated, but weirdly enough not the biggest surprise for an AL Central team. One that should be some excitement on the field for the Tigers for a while.
Javier Baez is so smooth 🔥 pic.twitter.com/cSRnWFX5Q5
— Baseball (@mlbelites_) January 4, 2022
The Tigers starting rotation has a lot of potential. Casey Mize, Michael Fulmer, and Tarik Skubal are all under 30 years old and should be able to put the pitching staff on their back. Mize and Skubal have only been in the league for a couple of years now, but Fulmer had a bounce back year last year that looked promising.
Kansas City Royals (74-88)
There is not much to be excited about with the Royals. This year they can easily be a last place team by a landslide. They have not done much this offseason, but their two biggest moves were very much a surprise. One of the surprises being the return of Zack Greinke. Greinke was drafted by the Royals in 2002 and last pitched for them in 2010. Was this move Greinke’s way of ending a long career where he started it? The bigger surprise though was the trade of Mike Minor to the Reds for Amir Garrett. Not necessarily because it was a bad trade, but just one that did not seem to really make sense for either team. Even though it should work out pretty well for both teams. The move should be an exciting one though, because not Baez and Garrett are in the same division once again.
Javier Baez vs Amir Garrett. This was fun. pic.twitter.com/SN1AvTn4fA
— Chief Cub (@ChiefCub) January 27, 2022
Minnesota Twins (73-89)
The Twins surprisingly struggled mightily last season. There couldn’t have been any outlet that predicted their first to worst dropoff. Rightfully so, the Twins decided moves needed to be made. So, they traded for Sonny Gray from the Reds. Nice start. They also traded Mitch Garver for Isiah Kiner-Falefa. Kiner-Falefa didn’t get any time to unpack as he was immediately sent over to the Yankees along with Josh Donaldson and Ben Rortvedt for Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela. Roller coaster of an offseason. But wait there’s more. That move that was more surprising than Baez to Tigers was done by the Twins. Somehow the Twins managed to sign top positional free agent Carlos Correa. There were so many teams in on Correa, but the Twins were not expected to be the winner. He will add a lot of offense to a team that’s going to need it.
Are any of these moves enough to take the AL Central away from the White Sox?