AL Central preview: Twins or Guardians? Can the White Sox rebound? What’s in store for Tigers, Royals?
Baseball season is just around the corner, which means it’s time for the division preview! From now until MLB Opening Day on March 30, Sportzshala Sports will be sharing their thoughts on each division, including a sneak peek of the offseason and best and worst scenarios for each team.
Last week we started with AL East and NL East. Next, we look at the Central American League.
Projected record (according to PECOTA, as of March 14): 88-74
Carlos Correa returns to Minnesota in the strangest and most roundabout way.
Joey Gallo, Michael A. Taylor provides the necessary depth of field, protection
The Twins trade batting champion Luis Arraes to the Marlins for solid starter Pablo Lopez
Best Screenplay: In some ways, 2023 already proved to be the best-case scenario for the Twins, who got their boyfriend — and at a discount — when a tumultuous offseason brought Correa back to the team that fell in love with him last year. We can’t prove it was a sly move by a team that relied on their own experience with the player rather than outside medical analysis, but a generally healthy season for Correa is key to the Twins’ success.
Of course, all teams need their best players on the field to keep things running smoothly, but the Twins treat “injured list” like a dirty word after last year and would send Byron Buxton sheltered in bubble wrap if they thought that it will help. Even in a perfect world, Buxton’s game time is limited, but let’s say he starts at least 100 games, Taylor proves capable enough as an insurance policy, and whatever the Twins see that made them jump on Gallo works to turn him back into his. identity until 2022.
[Free bracket contests for both tourneys | Printable Men’s | Women’s]
Rotation is a weakness in 2022 as the Twins have launched anyone in the stadium healthy enough to throw the ball 60ft 6in – it suddenly feels like it’s crammed with not exactly aces, but more types of top/mid spin. Accumulating competent options — along with Lopez: Sonny Gray, a healthy Kenta Maeda, a healthy Tyler Male, Joe Ryan wielding a couple of new weapons, and organization success stories like Bailey Ober, Josh Winder, and Louis Warland — is proving to be an effective strategy, especially with Minnesota’s best defense in the league.
The team not only returns to the postseason, but wins a game for the first time in 19 years by getting there.
At worst: Two words: ankle termites.
Regardless of the record, what will success look like in 2023? A full, healthy season from Correa would be an important morale victory, but it wouldn’t be enough to justify the entire contract. In an era when teams were all too ready to count on themselves on Opening Day, the Twins have spent the last two seasons believing they created an opponent only to be home in October, so nothing less than a playoff berth. will be another painful disappointment.
Minnesota has certainly tried to learn from last year by adding contingency plans to account for inevitable injuries in key elements. And so, while there is an important element to success in team health, the Twins want to feel good about their line-up and rotation options at the end of the summer. Success will mean they’ve done enough to shore up predictable weaknesses, adding depth that not only keeps them afloat but can take them into the postseason. — Keyser
Projected record: 88-74
Guardians plug holes in Josh Bell’s roster, Signing Mike Zunino
Jose Ramirez has surgery on his thumb to fix a mistake he played
Best Screenplay: The Cleveland Pitch Development Program has been an assembly line for the best scenarios for many years. Triston McKenzie, the most energetic player since Chris Sale, joined Shane Bieber at the top of the rotation in 2022. release of version 2.19 from July 1 with baseline to support it. McKenzie, playing in this area, again creates a dynamite combination, and by the end of the season new reinforcements arrive in the form of promising Gavin Williams and Tanner Beebe.
Less common in Cleveland? Wins in the development and acquisition of strikers, but they also begin to accumulate. After Steven Kwan and Andres Jimenez emerged and broke through in 2022, the Guardians finally scored gold thanks to a powerful free agent hitter, signing Josh Bell, and facilitating an improvement from Oscar Gonzalez to give Jose Ramirez real threats around him.
Throw in the pyrotechnics of Emmanuel Clayse and James Karinchak, and the result is a cohesive team that distances itself from another otherwise weak AL Central crop – with the muscle needed to really make some noise this time around in October.
At worst: Young Guardians, big surprise in 2022, have some serious room to regress. It wouldn’t even be a doomsday scenario in the long run, but there is definitely a world where most or all of the MacKenzies, Kwan, Jimenez and Gonzalez have a harder time and leave Cleveland scrapped for a .500 record.
Bell, no one imagines an inspiring offseason, spends most of the year in one of his cold streaks like his .192/.316/.271 in San Diego in 2022. Going against the tide again with Jose Ramirez’s offense and nothing more, the Guardians’ pitching isn’t as good and they fall into second place, well off the playoff hunt.
Regardless of the record, what will success look like in 2023? In 2022, the Cleveland roster scored less than any other. He ranked seventh in batting average and 12th in on-base percentage. But still, this could not rise above the league average in total production – according to wRC+ measurements – because there was a minimum number of strokes. On a scale as wide as baseball’s—a 162-game season and the subsequent playoffs—there is no neat trick to win big. However, there are some rather unusual ways to take yourself out of a run, and one of them is the inability to pull yourself together when it comes to fighting.
The Guardians are on a tight budget, presumably at the behest of team owner Paul Dolan, but they seem to have mastered one aspect of the sport: the serve. Success will be in continuing this tradition, building towards something bigger and better offensively. Ramirez, a superstar who actively limited his earning potential to stay in Cleveland, has signed until 2028 and likely has three or four years of his prime left. The Keepers don’t need to build an Astros-style roster to seriously compete in the ring, but they have a lot of work to do to imitate even the 2020 Tampa Bay Rays or… the 2017 Cleveland team. A little more pop music wouldn’t hurt. — Kreiser
Chicago White Sox
Projected record: 78-84
Former Rookie of the Year, All-Star, Silver Slugger, MVP Jose Abreu leaves the South Side and signs with the Houston Astros.
The White Sox meet some but not all of their biggest needs. adding Andrew Benintendi in the outfield And Mike Clevinger in rotation
MLB investigation into Mike Clevinger ends without disciplinary action following domestic violence allegations
Best Screenplay: At best, the bet on recovery seasons from a handful of majors makes the White Sox’ relative restraint this offseason savvy (though still not very exciting). We’re not necessarily saying that putting Pedro Grifol at the helm helped this team finally become more than the sum of its parts, but it’s an admittedly compelling narrative.
After troubling years in 2022 when they were limited to around 100 games each and were substitutes, Yoan Moncada and Yasmani Grandal look like their old, almost all-stars again. For Tim Anderson, who has missed more than half of 2022, the turnaround is even more pronounced. His work with Driveline over the winter is paying off as he fights for another batting title and performs in Abreu’s absence as team leader. And to complete the comeback of injury: Louis Robert Jr sees his national…