Predictions are useless but are also fun to do. This week I will roll out my own dumb predictions for the 2013 season.
Detroit added Torii Hunter during the offseason and will regain the bat of Victor Martinez as well. Hunter greatly improves their outfield defense and Martinez adds even more quality and depth to an already stacked lineup. Detroit’s infield defense is still a problem but their offense should more than make up for those defensive liabilities. The Tigers also have one of the better rotations in the American League. Don’t be surprised if they move a starter for some more bullpen help later in the season. I expect the Tigers to lead the Central wire-to-wire and cruise into the playoffs.
Best player by WAR (Baseball-Reference) Miguel Cabrera 7.1
Cleveland greatly improved their offense adding Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, Mark Reynolds, and Drew Stubbs to their lineup. Bourn also improves their defense in center field, however the Indians pitching staff is still really bad. Scott Kazmir made their rotation and he hasn’t pitched more than 175 innings since 2007. Cleveland finished last in the American League in team ERA in 2012 (4.78) and didn’t do much to upgrade their pitchers for this year. Cleveland took some steps in the right direction and will look good at times but their sub-par rotation will likely hold them back from chasing one of the wild card spots.
Best player by WAR Michael Bourn 3.5
The White Sox actually lead the Central for much of the season last year but a lot of things went their way. Jake Peavy returned to his Cy Young form and Chris Sale pitched like an ace for the majority of the season. I’m not sure I expect of either of those things to happen again. Their best offensive players (Konerko, Dunn, Rios) are getting older and will likely show their age for extended periods of time throughout the season.
Best player by WAR Jake Peavy 3.2
The Royals completely overhauled their starting rotation adding James Shields, Ervin Santana, and Wade Davis. Those additions should make them better and add depth to their bullpen as former starters Luke Hochevar and Bruce Chen have been assigned relief roles. I expect Eric Hosmer to bounce back and have a quality season. Perhaps I’m letting their recent history of ineptitude influence my opinion of them, on paper they look stronger than either the White Sox or Indians. I’ll believe it when I see it.
Best player by WAR Alex Gordon 6.0
The Twins have Joe Mauer which is great, but the rest of their lineup is full of question marks, youth, and mediocrity. Their starting rotation had the 2nd worst ERA (4.77) in the American League last year and I don’t expect that to change much this season. The Twins are clearly in a rebuilding mode and the future looks bright for them as they have 6 of the top 100 prospects in baseball (Baseball America), including two of the top 10 (Sano, Buxton). 2013 will certainly not be their year.
Best player by WAR Joe Mauer 5.0
The all AL Central team with my projected WAR (Baseball-Reference).
Alex Rios could easily challenge Hunter as the best right fielder in the division, Alcides Escobar could do the same at shortstop. I actually really like Salvador Perez too, I just don’t think he has enough offense in him to surpass Mauer yet.
The division has one elite starter in Verlander and a bunch of really good pitchers as well. Doug Fister could easily be a top five starter in the Central, so could Anibal Sanchez. That’s good news for Tigers, not so much for everyone else in the division. I think Greg Holland will be just as good as Reed.
Those are my dumb predictions for the AL Central. I’ll revisit them at the end of the season to see how many I butchered.
Follow me on Twitter @Rosscarey
Originally posted 3/27/13
Thumbnail AL Central logo courtesy of www.startribune.com