The West Division of the American League includes the winner of the pennant, the Cleveland Indians. The Indians were a dynamite team in 2016 and look to be even more dominant in 2017. The Tigers and Royals will try to turn the tide and win the division, but that’s unlikely. The Chicago White let ace Chris Sale go to the Red Sox, which was a huge loss. The Twins are looking like a last place team. Here’s the overview of our 2017 AL Central preview.
Chicago White Sox
It’s doubtful that the White Sox will be in the playoffs come October, but they could have a very exciting team due to three rookies. Two of those rookies are pitchers, Lucas Giolito and Carson Fulmer. The other new sensation is second baseman Yoan Mancada. Along with getting rid of Sale, the White Sox sent premium centerfielder Adam Eaton to the Nationals for three pitching prospects. They also got prospects from Boston for Sale. As noted, this is a young team with a great future in about two years from now. In 2017, they could be struggling from start to finish.
The Indians added Edwin Encarnacion of Toronto to their lineup, giving them even more power at the plate. Along with possessing a lot of great offensive players, Cleveland has one of the best rotations and bullpens in the majors. Ace Corey Kluber is a Cy Young contender and closer Cody Allen is one of the best and is backed up by a great group of relievers. In addition, Terry Francona is one of the best managers in MLB. The Indians will be tough to stop in 2017.
The Tigers have some formidable talent, but they are also looking as if they are going to go with a youth movement. If that’s the case, then many of their veteran players could be gone by midseason. Still, this is a team that includes one of the best starters in the majors, Justin Verlander, and a very successful closer, Francois Rodriguez. There are some decent hitters on board, but they’re really going to need to turn up the heat at the plate. What GM Al Avlia decides to do with the team will influence where they end up when the 2017 season is over.
Kansas City Royals
The Royals are a team that has many question marks. The starting rotation is uneven and was hampered by injuries in 2016. The offense is really lacking and overall lackluster. The major problem is that this team has cut $30 million in payroll and it shows. Developing new talent takes time. It’s good that manger Ned Yost is patient and is also good in bringing along young players.
There’s new management upstairs for the Twins, which includes GM Thad Levine and President Derek Falvey. When they came in last season, Levine and Falvey kept the entire coaching staff, including manager Paul Molitor, intact. For Molitor to stay past the third and final year of his contract, the guys upstairs will want to see some results. That may be tough for a team that lacks depth and last season had the 29th ranked pitching staff in the majors.
2017 AL Central Preview Predictions
In our 2017 AL Central preview, here’s how we see these teams finishing:
- Cleveland Indians
- Detroit Tigers
- Kansas City Royals
- Chicago White Sox
- Minnesota Twins