** This division is my area of least expertise, so be nice.
Kansas City Royals (2015 WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS)
- 2015: 95-67 (1st)
- Offseason (current roster): sign RHP Chris Young and RHP Joakim Soria.
- Top performers: Lorenzo Cain (7.2), Mike Moustakas (4.4), Eric Hosmer (3.6), Wade Davis (3.4)
- After winning the World Series the Royals have had a relatively quiet offseason. They are returning the majority of same players that were on the roster at the end of their championship season, save for Johnny Cueto. That really isn’t missing much either. Because of his departure there isn’t a distinguishable ace, but they still have a couple decent guys that will keep the ship afloat. The thing that the Royals have been so dang good at the last couple of seasons is capitalizing on high leverage situations, and that number is projected to be the highest among both leagues again this season. As a team the Royals have a 5+ clutch hitting ranking projected for next season, the next closest team is the Twins at 3.81. The pesky Royals are going remain extremely annoying in the way they win games, and they’re going to win enough of them to drive the rest of the AL crazy. Getting Alex Gordon back helps maintain a certain level of talent, but I’m not confident that they’ll retain the same type of success they have achieved over the last two seasons.
- 2015: 83-79 (2nd)
- Offseason (current roster): Traded C Chris Herrmann to Arizona Diamondbacks for 1B Daniel Palka, traded CF Aaron Hicks to New York Yankees for C John Ryan Murphy, Minnesota Twins signed free agent 1B Byung Ho Park.,
- Top performers: Kyle Gibson (3.2), Trevor Plouffe (2.5), Brian Dozier (2.4), Eddie Rosario (2.2)
- In 2015 the Twins hung onto their playoff hopes until the last week of the season, but I can’t see them replicating a similar feat unless something is done to solidify their pitching. Granted I can’t recall the shape that their pitching was in prior to 2015, but I feel this is their biggest question mark going into the season. I personally think that Trevor May should be (at the very least) be a back end starter, as he has all the right stuff to be a solid consistent MLB starter and has great experience doing just that. Right now he’s plugged to be in the bullpen. Other than the pitching concerns, the Twins mostly return the same offensive lineup as last year, with notable improvements at C (John Ryan), CF (Byron Buxton) and DH (Byung Ho Park). They should roll out a decent offense next season in order to stay relevant on that side of the ball. Without solidifying a competitive rotation/reliable core of relievers the Twins will most likely find themselves in the bottom half of the division in 2016.
- 2015: 81-80 (3rd)
- Offseason (current roster): Signed free agent CF Rajai Davis, Signed 1B Mike Napoli
- Top performers: Jason Kipnis (4.6), Francisco Lindor (4.6), Corey Kluber (4.1), Carlos Carrasco (4.1)
- The combination of Rajai Davis, Lonnie Chisenhall, Michael Brantley, Abraham Almonte (lol) in the outfield seems to be a bit of a worry. Biggest offseason addition Rajai Davis is not meant to be everyday player, but he will see a lot of time in the beginning of the season as Brantley is coming off shoulder surgery. Their starting rotation is pretty strong with Corey Kluber (providing he returns to 2014 form) and Carlos Carrasco. Danny Salazar also seems like he’ll pretty solid in the 3 spot. Last year was his first full year as a starter, but most of his trends appear to be continuing upward. Fangraphs has them projected finishing first in the Central.
Chi White Sox
- 2015: 76-86 (4th)
- Offseason (current roster): signed free agent C Alex Avila, Chicago White Sox signed free agent C Dioner Navarro, Chicago White Sox signed free agent RHP Jacob Turner, Oakland Athletics traded 3B Brett Lawrie to Chicago White Sox for RHP J.B. Wendelken and LHP Zack Erwin, Traded 2B Micah Johnson, RHP Frankie Montas and CF Trayce Thompson to Los Angeles Dodgers.
- Top performers: Adam Eaton (3.9), Jose Quintana (3.9), Jose Abreu (3.8), Chris Sale (3.3)
- As the depth chart stands right now, the White Soxs infield will roll out 1B (Jose Abreu), 2B (Brett Lawrie) and 3B (Todd Frazier), but they lack a true major league starter in SS in Tyler Saladino. The main problem is that there is virtually no depth behind those guys. There is also no current contingency plan for 35-year-old DH Adam LaRoche, barring the White Soxs picking up a right hand bat platoon partner for the 10-year vet. As for the starting pitching, Sale, Quintana and Rodon are all projected to finish at least .500 records (as their overall team record will probably mirror). Danks and Erik Johnson might end up being the problem children of this rotation. However, in an less than exciting Central division the ChiSoxs might have a shot at 2nd or 3rd place finish.
- 2015: 74-87 (last)
- Offseason (current roster): signed free agent RHP Jordan Zimmermann, signed RHP Mike Pelfrey, signed free agent C Jarrod Saltalamacchia, signed free agent RHP Mark Lowe, signed free agent SS Mike Aviles.
- Top performers: Ian Kinsler (6.0), Miguel Cabrera (5.2), JD Martinez (5.0), Yoenis Cespedes (4.0) ** traded on 7/31/2015
- Dave Dombrowski’s departure and Al Avila’s arrival definitely set a different tone for the Tiger’s offseason this year. Although he didn’t ink any of the types of big contracts Dombrowski is famous for, Avila still has had a decent winter. On the pitching side they have Justin Verlander and Jordan Zimmerman, who seem to hold the consistency of the rotation. The other half of guys are a combination of vets with years plus experience and a couple guys that don’t seem to have enough. They of course still have Miggy (Miguel Cabrera) and he’s a one in a million type guy. Last year J.D Martinez, playing the most games of his career, batted .282/.344/.535 with 38 home runs. Also another positive note to look forward to. They aren’t going to replace the help they got via Cespedes or Price at the beginning of the season, but it seems unlikely that the Tigers will come in last again.