4. Will the AL Central Offer Any Competition
According to Fangraphs projection system, here’s how the AL Central will look:
1. Indians 93-69
2. Twins 82-80
3. Royals 71-91
4. Tigers 70-92
5. White Sox 66-96
Fangraphs has the Royals, Tigers, and White Sox finishing as three of the four worst teams in baseball. It’s possible we see another season like 1995, 1996, or 1999. Seasons in which the Indians won the division by a minimum of 16.5 games.
The Twins are the only team that could pose a real threat to the Indians, so let’s take a quick look at them.
The Twins surprised everyone and finished 2017 with a 85-77 record en route to a Wild Card berth. Mangement believed in them enough to bring in interesting free agents. Logan Morrison was brought in to help balance out and already balanced lineup. Assuming Miguel Sano can stay on the field all season, their offense could be potentially deadly. In 2017, they scored 815 runs (4th in the AL) and had an OPS+ of 105 (2nd in the AL).
The Twins pitching could be worth watching this season. It’s still nowhere near the Indians level, but with additions like Lance Lynn, Jake Odorizzi, and eventually Michael Pineda, the Twins actually have some depth and real pitchers. It hurts that staff “ace” Ervin Santana will start the season on the DL, though. The Twins also remade their bullpen, bringing in a new closer and set-up man in Fernando Rodney and Addison Reed. Even with all these additions, the Twins probably max out as a Wild Card team.