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2023 Know Your Enemy: AL Central

Every league needs a worst division

Minnesota Twins v Chicago White Sox Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

We wrap up our division by division look around the league, wrapping up with the AL Central. The final four previews will focus on each individual team in the AL East.

Cleveland Guardians

2022: 92-70, First Place

Blue Jays @ Guardians - August 7-10
Guardians @ Blue Jays - August 25-27

Playing their first season as the Guardians last year, they brought the AL Central title back to Cleveland for the first time since 2018. They took the Yankees to 5 games in the ALDS once they made the playoffs, but couldn’t come through. Still, it was a successful year for the Guardians, and they look to build off a strong year.

It was a pretty quiet offseason for the Guardians, who overhauled their catcher position bringing in Mike Zunino and Zack Collins to replace Luke Maile and Austin Hedges. Ultimately though, the future of the position belongs to Canadian Bo Naylor.

The only other addition to the roster is DH Josh Bell.

The future is looking pretty solid for the Guardians as well, as Bo Naylor heads a prospect list with several top 100 prospects. Fangraphs gives them 6 in their top 100, while MLB Pipeline gives them 7. They’ll eventually join a solid core that already has a great young pitching staff and a few great position players, including the recently extended José Ramírez.

Their pitching staff is one of the best in baseball, with a good group of starters headed by Ace Shane Bieber (the oldest pitcher on the staff at 27.8) and a strong bullpen anchored by the best (healthy) reliever in baseball in Emmanuel Clase (the youngest pitcher on the staff at 25.0).

Projected Lineup

Steven Kwan, LF
Amed Rosario, SS
José Ramírez, 3B
Josh Bell, DH
Josh Naylor, 1B
Andrés Giménez, 2B
Oscar Gonzalez, RF
Mike Zunino, C
Myles Straw, CF

Projected Rotation

Shane Bieber
Triston McKenzie
Cal Quantrill
Aaron Civale
Zach Plesac

Notable Bullpen Arms

Emmanuel Clase
James Karinchak
Trevor Stephan
Nick Sandlin
Enyel De Los Santos
Eli Morgan

Fangraphs has them once again as the best team in the division at an 84-78 projection. PECOTA has them second at 87.8-74.2, still good enough for a Wild Card spot.

Chicago White Sox

2022: 81-81, Second Place

White Sox @ Blue Jays - April 24-26
Blue Jays @ White Sox - July 4-6

The White Sox took a step back in 2022, finishing the season at .500 after winning the division in 2021. Their 2021 season was their first non-2020 winning season since 2012, and their first division title since 2008. But after a +160 run differential in 2021, they were -21 in 2022.

The White Sox bid farewell to longtime first baseman José Abreu, as well as veterans Johnny Cueto, Josh Harrison and AJ Pollock.

In an attempt to replace the lost production of José Abreu, they brought in Andrew Benintendi to play LF. That allows them to put Eloy Jiménez and Andrew Vaughn into their appropriate 1B and DH positions, instead of the combined 129 games they played in the outfield last year.

In an attempt to bolster their pitching staff, the White Sox brought in Mike Clevinger. Over the winter, Clevinger faced accusations of domestic abuse, but ultimately did not face suspension by Major League Baseball.

Projected Lineup

Tim Anderson, SS
Luis Robert Jr., CF
Andrew Benintendi, LF
Eloy Jiménez, DH
Yoán Moncada, 3B
Andrew Vaughn, 1B
Yasmani Grandal, C
Oscar Colas, RF
Elvis Andrus, 2B

Projected Rotation

Dylan Cease
Lance Lynn
Lucas Giolito
Mike Clevinger
Michael Kopech

Notable Bullpen Arms

Kendall Graveman
Aaron Bummer
Joe Kelly
Reynaldo López
Jake Diekman
José Ruiz

Fangraphs projects them for third place this season, with an 80-82 record. Their PECOTA projection falls just short of that, at 78.8-83.2.

Minnesota Twins

2022: 78-84, Third Place

Blue Jays @ Twins - May 26-28
Twins @ Blue Jays - June 9-11

The Twins finished the 2022 season below .500 for the second year in a row, despite a +12 run differential.

In an attempt to move up the standings, the Twins had a relatively active offseason. The biggest move was bringing back Carlos Correa, after he had a very interesting offseason, ultimately making his way back to the Twins.

New additions to the roster include Joey Gallo, Christian Vázquez, Michael A. Taylor and a few strong bench pieces.

On the pitching side of things, they sent out AL batting champ Luis Arraez to the Marlins to bring in top of the rotation arm Pablo López. López was the only addition to a pitching staff that was in the bottom half of the league in ERA last year.

Projected Lineup

Byron Buxton, DH
Carlos Correa, SS
Max Kepler, RF
Jose Miranda, 3B
Joey Gallo, 1B
Christian Vázquez, C
Trevor Larnach, LF
Michael A. Taylor, CF
Nick Gordon, 2B

Projected Rotation

Pablo López
Sonny Gray
Joe Ryan
Tyler Mahle
Kenta Maeda

Notable Bullpen Arms

Jorge López
Jhoan Duran
Griffin Jax
Caleb Thielbar
Emilio Pagán
Jorge Alcala

The projection systems liked their offseason enough, with Fangraphs picking them as second in the division at an 83-79 record, while PECOTA has them at the top of the division with an 88.1-73.9 record.

Detroit Tigers

2022: 66-96, Fourth Place

Tigers @ Blue Jays - April 11-13
Blue Jays @ Tigers - July 7-9

The Tigers finished well below .500 for the sixth straight season in 2022, falling short of expectations after a 77 win 2021 season.

Miguel Cabrera is set to retire after this year, so Tiger fans still have a reason to turn out this year.

The Tigers made some significant changes to Comerica Park this offseason in an attempt to increase offence. They lowered the CF wall a foot and a half and brought it in from 422ft to 412ft. The wall in RCF will be shortened from 13ft down to 7ft, while the RF wall will also be lowered to 7ft from 8.5ft.

Aside from the bump in offense from better dimensions, the Tigers also brought in Nick Maton and Matt Vierling. They’ll join an offense led by youngsters Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson, who will look to have breakout seasons after disappointing rookie debuts.

On the pitching side of things, they brought in Michael Lorenzen and brought back Matthew Boyd to give them a solid veteran rotation. Young phenoms Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal are both expected to miss a bunch of time this year after going for surgery last year, so there was a very noticeable hole in the rotation to start the season.

Projected Lineup

Akil Baddoo, LF
Javier Báez, SS
Riley Greene, CF
Austin Meadows, RF
Spencer Torkelson, 1B
Kerry Carpenter, DH
Jonathan Schoop, 2B
Nick Maton, 3B
Jake Rogers, C

Projected Rotation

Eduardo Rodriguez
Matthew Boyd
Michael Lorenzen
Matt Manning
Spencer Turnbull

Notable Bullpen Arms

Alex Lange
Jason Foley
José Cisnero
Will Vest
Trey Wingenter
Tyler Alexander

Fangraphs projects them to the bottom of the division, with a 72-90 record. By PECOTA, they’re fourth in the division, but with a horrible 64.9-97.1 record.

Kansas City Royals

2022: 65-97, Last Place

Blue Jays @ Royals - April 3-6
Royals @ Blue Jays - September 8-10

The Royals were bad again in 2022, their sixth straight losing season. They’re at the point in their rebuilding cycle that they’re going to bring back much of the same team that ended the season with them.

Their only free agent was Zack Greinke, who re-upped with is original team for another season. The ones that actually got away were Adalberto Mondesi, Michael A. Taylor and Ryan O’Hearn.

While the position players remain mostly unchanged, they did add a few pitchers. Jordan Lyles and Ryan Yarbrough are set to join the rotation, while Josh Taylor and noted POS Aroldis Chapman have joined the bullpen.

Royals’ top prospect Maikel Garcia was optioned down to AAA to gain some service time considerations. He’ll likely be up in a month or so and find himself somewhere in the infield, although probably not at his current SS position.

Projected Lineup

Bobby Witt Jr., SS
MJ Melendez, DH
Salvador Perez, C
Vinnie Pasquantino, 1B
Hunter Dozier, 3B
Kyle Isbel, CF
Edward Olivares, LF
Michael Massey, 2B
Nate Eaton, RF

Projected Rotation

Zack Greinke
Jordan Lyles
Brady Singer
Ryan Yarbrough
Brad Keller

Notable Bullpen Arms

Scott Barlow
Dylan Coleman
Aroldis Chapman
Taylor Clarke
Amir Garrett
Josh Staumont

They’re still years away from being good, but they’re probably a little better than last year. Fangraphs projects them to a 73-89 record. PECOTA sees them as still a nearly 100 loss team, at 64-98.


Who wins the AL Central

This poll is closed

  • 65%
    (86 votes)
  • 19%
    (25 votes)
  • 11%
    White Sox
    (15 votes)
  • 1%
    (2 votes)
  • 2%
    (3 votes)
131 votes total Vote Now


Of the 32 games against the AL Central, how many will the Blue Jays win?

This poll is closed

  • 38%
    21 or more
    (40 votes)
  • 50%
    (53 votes)
  • 5%
    (6 votes)
  • 2%
    (3 votes)
  • 2%
    11 or fewer
    (3 votes)
105 votes total Vote Now