MLB  

AL Central Preview & Predictions

Tim Anderson #7 of the Chicago White Sox. Tom Pennington/Getty Images/AFP

If, and when, the Boys of Summer return is unknown but eventually there will be ballgames, and below is our preview of the American League Central.

Chicago White Sox

(World Series Odds: +3000)

You could a whole lot worse than taking a shot with the White Sox to win the World Series in your MLB picks. If we cruise on over to BetOnline and check out their MLB Odds to win it all, we see generous value on the Southsiders at +3000. The fact that the White Sox are perennial cellar-dwellers and have failed to break .500 in seven years will cause many to chuckle at the thought of them doing anything remotely special this season, particularly after notching only 72 wins in 2019. However, the White Sox brass went to work in the offseason and signed one of the best pure catchers in all of baseball away from Milwaukee in Yasmani Grandal. Edwin Encarnación is also a new arrival and will provide a big bat in the lineup to go along with AL batting champ Tim Anderson, veteran slugger Jose Abreu (33 HR, 124 RBI, .284 in ’19), and third baseman Yoán Moncada (25 HR, 79 RBI, .315). But they also tended to their pitching needs and signed a pair of veteran southpaws in Dallas Keuchel and Gio González. Big things are coming for White Sox fans this season.

Minnesota Twins

(World Series Odds: +2000)

The Twins won the Central last year and could do it all over again in 2020 when play ultimately returns. However, repeating as division champs is far from a sure thing, as the Indians and White Sox are viable threats. Minnesota mashed last year with a whopping 11 players hitting 10 or more dingers which accounted for a league-leading 307 home runs while generating 939 runs scored, trailing only the Yankees with 943, when the curtain closed on the 2019 regular-season. Nevertheless, they did lose a pair of big bats in C.J. Cron and Jonathan Schoop who signed with the Tigers but they did reel in a big fish with the addition of Josh Donaldson. The issue that will haunt the Twins is the same one that cost them the ALDS against the Yankees – a dearth of pitching. Thirty-nine-year-old Rich Hill and 33-year-old Homer Bailey hardly qualify as the impact pitchers that management stated they would sign in the offseason, thus, pitching woes will likely plague them again.

Cleveland Indians

(World Series Odds: +3000)

There is no question that the Indians have some serious talent on their roster with a trio of big-bangers in shortstop Francisco Lindor, first baseman Carlos Santana, and third baseman Jose Ramirez. But what have they done to improve a team that missed the playoffs last year other than deal away pitchers Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber? Yasiel Puig is apparently not walking through that door as the Indians have allowed him to explore free agency, and as of this writing is still exploring, but to be fair the Tribe has a fearsome one-two punch at the top of the rotation with Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber. But what’s after that is the biggest concern, and with the ascension of the White Sox, last season’s 93 wins could be hard to come by.

Francisco Lindor #12 of the Cleveland Indians. Norm Hall/Getty Images/AFP

Detroit Tigers

(World Series Odds: +50,000)

Maybe this abbreviated season will somehow benefit the toothless Tigers but I’m not quite sure how that would happen because their lineup is as limp as their pitching is lacking. Do any of their free-agent signings make you sit up and think, maybe the Tigers have a chance? Look there is nothing wrong with former Yankees backup catcher Austin Romine and former Twins C.J. Cron and Jonathan Schoop. All decent ballplayers and will, in all likelihood, help the Tigers improve from their league-worst .292 win percentage in 2019.  They can’t do much worse, right? But the White Sox have a better chance of winning the World Series than the Tigers have of breaking .500 in 2020 so Motown can already start planning for next year.

Kansas City Royals

(World Series Odds: +30,000)

If the free agency acquisition of third baseman Maikel Franco gets your motor running then you are easy to please and the Kansas City Royals would love to sell you some Franco merch. But that’s essentially all Kansas City did in the offseason unless you count re-signing Alex Gordon to a one-year deal. At least the Tigers are trying – a little bit – but the Royals are already tanking and we haven’t even started the season yet!