AL Central Predictions

March 5, 2008 at 4:30 pm 14 comments

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This is a division that could be good from top to bottom. It hosts the Cleveland Indians who were 1 game away from the World Series last season, the Detroit Tigers who are the most improved team in the majors, and the Twins, Royals, and White Sox who all have solid teams. This division is going to be a tough one for years and this may be the best year to be the Indians or the Tigers.

[TABLE=73]

Strengths
1) Offense – The Tigers are probably the most likely to score 1000 runs. They have a potent lineup that can score from any spot in the lineup and they have pop off the bench. The Tigers could very well average 6.5 runs per game and be serious contenders for the AL crown.

Weaknesses:
1) Bullpen Depth – If Todd Jones falters this bullpen could be the demise of this team. Zumaya may be out for at least half the season and Fernando Rodney will have to revert to his 2006 form. Bobby Seay will have to continue to get lefties out and they better pray they can call up a Jordan Tata type and that he dominates.

Breakout Candidate:
1) This team is full of players that have already broken out. The closest thing to a breakout candidate in my opinion would be Fernando Rodney. If Todd Jones falters then Rodney will get the saves.

[TABLE=74]

Strengths
1) Well-Balanced Team -It’s hard for me to think of another team other than the Red Sox that is as well balanced as the Indians. They have a deep lineup, a deep bench, a deep rotation, a deep bullpen, and young guys in AAA that can help this season.

Weaknesses:
1) Infield Defense – Other than Cabrera the defense in the infield is dismal. Peralta belongs at 3B and Cabrera should be at short and that would allow Barfield to play 2B and then the infield defense would be above average and it would move Blake to a super-sub role. I think this move would be best for the Indians.

Breakout Candidate:
1) Franklin Gutierrez finally gets a full-time gig. He still has to learn to hit breaking stuff from righties but his quick bat should lead to a potential breakout season. 20+ homers isn’t out of the question.

[TABLE=75]

Strengths
1) Middle of the Order – When you have Mauer, Morneau, Cuddyer, Kubel, and Young in the middle of your lineup you know you can put up some runs and do it for years. The only problem is that the people in front and behind them have trouble getting on base.

Weaknesses:
1) The Rest of the Hitters – The lineup will be hard pressed to scare people at the top or at the bottom. The hitters on the bench are nothing to write home about either.

Breakout Candidate:
1) Jason Kubel‘s knee is finally healthy. He may not be able to field too well but he has the stick and the patience to outperform the numbers I generated him at. He could easily hit .295/.390/.500 with 20+ homers and knock in 90+ if helathy and given 500 at-bats.

[TABLE=76]

Strengths
1) Young Hitters – The Royals have a potent team that is full of youth. It has superstars in the making in Alex Gordon and Billy Butler and it has Mike Moustakas a couple years away.

Weaknesses:
1) Bullpen – Outside if Soria, who is young and has battled injuries, they don’t have any real threat other than newly acquired Ron Mahay. If one or both go down, well, it won’t be pretty.

Breakout Candidate:
1) Billy Butler is a man I have touted since he was drafted. He reminds me of Edgar Martinez in so many ways but the thing is that I think he can end up having a better hitting career than Edgar Martinez. This is the year we will all get to know the name Billy Butler.

[TABLE=77]

Strengths
1) Veteran Hitters – They have a nice group of veteran hitters in Konerko, Thome, Dye, Crede, and Swisher that they can either keep or use as trade chips. The veterans can also help with young hitters Quentin and Fields.

Weaknesses:
1) Rotation – Outside of Buehrle and Vazquez they are thin and shallow. Danks has promise but that ballpark is awful for him. This is the reason the White Sox will stink this year.

Breakout Candidate:
1) Carlos Quentin finally gets a real shot to play. His bat and eye get to hit in a great hitter’s park and he will have veterans all around to teach him what his peers couldn’t. If he plays a full season an OBP close to .400 and 60 extra-base hits is not out of the question.

-Jonathan C. Mitchell

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AL West Predictions AL East Predictions

14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Aaron Boynton  |  March 5, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    I will not be surprised if the Royals finish 3rd ahead of the Twins and White Sox.

    I still expect Cleveland to win the Central because I’m not sold on the Tigers pitching aside from Verlander and Bonderman. I don’t trust that bullpen much at all.

    Reply
  • 2. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  March 5, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    I’m not sold on the pitching either but I do think the 6.5 runs or so per game the Tigers will score will be enough.

    Reply
  • 3. Brooke  |  March 5, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    Can we see the west? I’m just curious who you would pick. I do however want to tell you that I agree with your AL Central Predictions.

    Reply
  • 4. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  March 5, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    Thanks Brooke. The West is done. It’s in the Baseball section. I have all divisions escept the AL East up and I have that one done except for the writing part of it.

    Reply
  • 5. Charlie Nehl  |  March 5, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    I think you have the Angels in the weakness for the Tigers. But it’s the same thing if F-Rod and Zumaya get hurt =)

    Todd Jones won’t last the whole year as closer IMO.

    Reply
  • 6. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  March 6, 2008 at 9:09 am

    You might be right, that’s why I think Rodney will be a breakout candidate.

    Reply
  • 7. Charlie Nehl  |  March 6, 2008 at 10:15 am

    i was referring to this:

    Weaknesses:
    1) Bullpen Depth – If K-Rod or Shields goes down or falters this bullpen could be the demise of this team. The good thing though is that the rotation will go deep into games and give the bullpen a rest.

    K-Rod and Sheilds are Angels pitchers 🙂

    Reply
  • 8. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  March 6, 2008 at 11:03 am

    My bad, I wrote it the same time I did the AL West.

    Reply
  • 9. John Cloutman  |  March 6, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    I don’t think the Tigers are the most improved team in the majors. The Angels need to get credit for picking up Hunter. They also have the best bullpen in baseball!!!

    Reply
  • 10. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  March 6, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    I woudn’t say that the Angels have the best at all. I think it is a weakness of theirs.

    Reply
  • 11. Erik  |  March 6, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    Guess it is time to put my 2 cents in on the AL Central… I think it is a two team race between the Tigers and Indians. I think the Tigers made some big changes this off season getting Cabrera and Renteria was HUGE! I think Willis might do well when pitching in Comerica but overall I am not really sold on their pitching past Verlander and Bonderman. Kenny Rogers is ok, Willis is OK, and Robertson are Ok. Their Bullpen has an old closer in Todd Jones and Zumaya must be playing Guitar Hero again. I’m just not sold on their pitching… But with Granderson in CF he saves alot of would be runs.

    The Indians I think are the team to beat in the AL Central. They have good balance, They kind of remind me of Bernie Williams but as a Team. He does alot of things well but nothing really spectacular… They have balance and that will help them into the playoffs… just in time before Sabathia bolts for big money.

    I will also pick the Royals third. I just think as a team they seem to be a better finish than the Twins. Trey Hillman as manager will be big! The guy is well respected in the game. He is a good guy to have. I expect big things from Gordon this year mostly cause the pressure is off. They got better offensively getting Guillen from Seattle, and their pitching isn’t as Horrible as it was Gil Meche and Bannister are decent and compared to the Whitesox and Twins could match up well against them.

    Twins… The loss of Torii Hunter will hurt much more than the loss of Johan Santana in my opinion basically cause he was one of the best defensive CFer’s in the game. He played everyday where as Johan was once every fifth day. Yes the Pitching has suffered alot not only with the loss of Santana but Garza as well.

    White Sox eh not impressed with their moves.

    Reply
  • 12. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  March 7, 2008 at 8:08 am

    Always love your input Erik. I do think the Royals will surprise but I think they need some more pitching help to make the jump. I think the Twins will fight for .500 and that this division is a two team race with the top two teams making the playoffs.

    Reply
  • 13. James D Ardis  |  March 8, 2008 at 9:02 am

    I still think the royals will be last. Besides that though I absolutely agree with these standings. With the acquisition of Cabrera and Willis they pretty much clinched this division

    Reply
  • 14. Aaron Boynton  |  March 13, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    I was thinking that the Tigers this year remind me of the Yankees of the past few years: Great offensive lineup, a couple really good starters, some middle of the road guys, and a bunch of question marks in the bullpen (though the Yanks had Mariano..no question there). The Tigers failed to address their biggest need (late inning relief) and are really going to wish they had gotten someone else to close instead of Jones or Rodney.

    Reply

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