MLB Picks: American League Central Breakdown

Doug Upstone

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 7:01 PM UTC

Wednesday, Apr. 30, 2014 7:01 PM UTC

After being a punching bag last season, the American League Central has to be taken more seriously this year with its feeble teams from a season ago improved and certainly worthy of being MLB Picks.

We might end seeing a few slugfests when these collide since three of the Top 7 scoring teams in baseball presently reside in this division. In addition, a trio of pitching staffs is in the bottom nine of runs allowed. Let’s take a closer at where each team is and what their short term prospects are.


Detroit Tigers
The Tigers once again are supposed to be the king of this domain and were heavy favorites to be AL Central champs according to the betting odds and nothing has changed.

Maybe Detroit more than most understands its long season and once again has begun the year like a slumbering tiger, though they are still in first place in the division.

Offensively, Detroit is showing signs of awakening, averaging more than five runs a game the last week, with Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez heating up, while outfielders Rajai Davis and Austin Jackson have been terrific all year with an on-base percentage over .375.

The Tigers just placed Anibal Sanchez on the DL for a blister issue, but it has to comforting having Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer at the front of the rotation.

For Detroit to start creating space in their division, the offense has to continue to grow and its next to last bullpen by ERA has to start improving.


Minnesota Twins
Minnesota had won 66 games each of the last two seasons and prospects of reaching 70 seemed ambitious. Yet, if the offense can continue to shine, it might at least be an entertaining season of Twins baseball this summer and who knows, they could beat the MLB odds.

The Twins have been at or near the top of scoring offenses all season and they are doing it the right way. MLB baseball handicappers are aware Minnesota is not a power team like the days when they had Kent Hrbek, Kirby Puckett and Gary Gaetti. No, this club puts the bat on the ball, works the count and is tops in the AL in on-base percentage thanks to discipline and persistence.

Minnesota is unlikely to be a division contender with the worst starting pitching in the junior circuit, yet those making sports picks would be wise to back the Twins on the total since they are 18-4-1 OVER thus far.


Chicago White Sox
After losing 99 games in 2013, the White Sox could not sit still and they remade their roster. Like the Twins, the front office focused on changing the lineup card and the results have been fantastic.

First baseman Jose Abreu is coming off a record setting month, leading the majors in home runs and rbi’s. Dayan Viciedo and Adam Eaton have helped juice up the run production and holdovers Alexei Ramirez, Tyler Flowers and even Adam Dunn are showing exceptional plate discipline with batting averages well above career norms.

Filling out the lineup card should not be an issue for skipper Robin Ventura, but finding pitchers to create 27 outs with his team having the lead certainly is set up to be a problem. The Pale Hose will have underdog potential all season; just understand leads late in games will disappear, causing bettor frustration.


Kansas City Royals
The Royals have been floundering, still, there are at least signs this team could be Play On material. Having three pitchers like James Shields, Justin Vargas and rookie sensation Yordano Ventura is a great place to start.

The Kansas City bullpen certainly has a group of great arms and talent and has underachieved some in clutch situations, which accounts for a save percentage of just 66.6 percent and a 2-6 record in one run games.

If this contingent melds and players like Billy Butler, Salvador Perez and Mike Moustakas revert to at least normal numbers like they have posted in the past, the Royals could be a money-maker.

Cleveland Indians
After winning 92 games last season, it has been a slow go for Cleveland. The Indians have been among the worst bets in baseball because the offense has been slumping all year and the pitching staff as a whole has not come through.

For Cleveland to be taken seriously by sportsbooks and sports bettors, they have to be much better on the road (4-10) and not be as vulnerable to left-handed starting pitchers, scoring only 2.9 runs a contest leading directly to a 3-7 mark.

Hard to give up on the Tribe already, but they have to find solutions.

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