AL CENTRAL CLIFF NOTES
What you need to know
- White Sox remain in Championship or bust mode.
- Twins keeping one foot deeply in the compete now pool.
- Royals / Tigers banking on young stars
- Indians are officially the Guardians and officially are irrelevant.
Pick to Win the Division
Chicago White Sox
This won’t be the last time you hear me picking the White Sox to take home hardware in 2022 and they did absolutely nothing in the off-season to diminish their window. Last season they had to deal with a few injuries to their every day players while still managing to cruise through the American League before bowing out to the Astros in the playoffs.
The rotation is really good with Lynn, Giolito, Cease, Keuchel, Kopech likely anchoring things down and the Bullpen remains elite with Hendricks, Kimbrel, Bummer, Grochet and the very solid addition of Joe Kelly. There are other arms here who will contribute along the way but those are the o nes which you should be most familiar with. If Chicago doesn’t win the division by 7+ games I would be shocked.
Pick to finish last
This should be a bounce back year for Shane Bieber, and Terry Francona is a great manager. But that’s about all the nice things I can say about the Guardians. They definitely are the best among the ‘worst’ teams when we consider who is going to finish last in each division as this team should win 70+ games, but I see them trending down while others are trending up.
Three Pitching Takes
Dylan Cease … Will win the Cy Young this year by virtue of being a consistent 6+ IP guy who wins a bunch of games, has a low ERA and continues to improve his K:BB ratios.
Daniel Lynch … The Royals and Tigers are both counting on young pitching to carry them into the next few seasons and there are going to be strides taken along the way by many of these young arms. But look for Daniel Lynch from Kansas City to take the biggest step forward among those who struggled last year.
Casey Mize … Casey Mize will have a sub 3.50 ERA for Detroit while striking out 150 batters.
Three Hitting Takes
Bobby Witt … He is legit and he is the next big time star hitter. He will win the AL ROY and he will be an all-star.
Luis Robert … I believe that Luis Robert puts it all together this season provided he stays healthy. If you want a non Vlad/Trout/Ohtani pick for AL MVP then Robert should be our pick.
Spencer Torkelson … This is the Tigers prized hitting prospect with Riley Greene being the other. Torkelson has been someone I am not fond of that much and I project him to struggle offensively.
Player to have a down season
Jose Ramirez – Guardians
At some point the lack of a competent offense around J-Ram will catch up to him. He should be pitched around a ton this season with very little protection in this lineup.
Andrew Vaughn – Chicago White Sox
Whenever a rookie is a darling in prognostications and then he has a so-so season he quickly falls off radar for no good reason. Vaughn fit that mold last year with only 15 HR and a .235 AVG in 469 PA. The power for Vaughn will come but it’s the AVG which we all expected to be higher given his pedigree coming in and the way he hit in Spring last season. With a full year under his belt and hopefully less restrictions from Tony LaRussa I expect Vaughn to take a jump up to the level we projected him at a year ago.
Prospect You should know
Riley Greene – OF – Tigers
Yes, you should know Bobby Witt Jr, but I am not going to hedge my claims on him, he’s already a star. Instead you should be looking into Riley Greene for Detroit more so than anyone else in this division from a hitting perspective.
- Kansas City