American League Central 2012 Power Rankings
1. Detroit Tigers
The American League runners up look to build upon a season that fell just short. Designated hitter Victor Martinez won’t be with his club however, tearing his ACL while conditioning in the off season. Fear not though Tigers fans, General Manager Dave Dombrowski was able to land one of the two big fishes in this year’s free agent pool. Enter: Prince Fielder. The 27 year old slugger will be calling Comerica his Kingdom for the next nine years, bringing along lifetime averages of .282(Batting) .540(Slugging) and .390(On Base). Fielder coupled with Miguel Cabrera should prove to be a formidable duo for years to come. Oh, yeah? I forgot to mention reigning AL MVP and CY Young winner Justin Verlander. Owner of a 2.40 ERA last year, Verlander won 24 games and struck out an impressive 250 batters. Looking at the names in the rotation; Verlander,Fister,Scherzer,Porcello, and Turner, you see one weakness. They have not one left handed starter! That could cause problems with certain teams like the Cleveland Indians who have a lefty dominated line up. Either way the Detroit Tigers are a cut above the rest in the AL Central and should be entertaining fans into October.
Players to Watch
RHP Jacob Turner
(7) On Baseball America’s top 50 prospects. Turner should hold down the 5th rotation spot for the Tigers. Armed with a great fast ball and good secondary pitches, he should find success in his first full MLB season.
2. Cleveland Indians
The Indians showed a lot of moxy coming out of the gate last year, leading the Central for most of the season. Inexperience, youth, and fatigue derailed the team in the second half of their magical season. Asdrubal Cabrera broke out hitting .273 with 25 homers to go along with 92 RBI. Playing in all but eleven games of the season really seemed to wear Cabrera down during the final home stretch.
Dead line acquisition Ubaldo Jimenez, looks to regain some of his 2010 magic and lead a group of promising young arms in the right direction. Justin Masterson looks to build on an unbelievable season where he held an ERA of 3.21 with 12 wins. Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall should all take steps forward with more experience, while Sizemore and Hafner just try to stay healthy. Shin-Soo Choo should regain form after an injury plagued season held him to underwhelming numbers.
Players to Watch
LHP Scott Barnes
Unorthodox delivery will make Barnes a deceptive weapon for the Tribe. Barnes, an owner of three above average pitches; Fastball, Slider, and a Changeup will keep hitters honest with the movement on his fastball and his poise to throw his change in any count. He’s big league ready and could compete for a rotation spot in spring training, however a May call up is more likely.
3. Kansas City Royals
The day of reckoning is before us, rising from the ashes of inadequacy like the mighty Phoenix; The Royals of Kansas City look to make the leap from second rate to premier. OK, you’re right I have gone way too far with my adoration for the boys in blue, but what the organization has done over the last eight years cannot go without merit. Hosmer, Moustakas, Gordon, and Butler all make for a pretty snazzy core in the middle of the lineup. Cashing in on a breakout season from Melky Cabrera, the Royals turned what many believed was albatross into Jonathon Sanchez. In true form of recent Royal conduct, expect another new wave of talented prospects to bolster the rotation. This team finally has options, they can make moves to improve the product on the field, and still be financially healthy. Billy Butler could see himself in a new uniform by mid season, when the arms of Luke Hochevar and Bruce Chen prove to be futile, and Clint Robinson continues to mash in the minors.
Players to Watch
OF Wil Myers
Quiet possibly the best player in all of the Royals organization; he can do it all on offensively, potential batting champ, with plus power, and decent speed. Jeff Francouer’s days could be numbered.
4. Chicago White Sox
Well, this wasn’t close to where I would have ranked them going into last season. That being said, this is honestly one of the most disappointing teams I can remember. Horrible seasons from Dunn and Rios really derailed a team that was supposed to compete for the division. Could Dunn and Rios bounce back? Sure. And I expect them to, but it’s just not enough. The departure of Carlos Quentin, and Juan Pierre have in my opinion change the team dynamic. Dayan Viciedo may in fact turn out to be a nice player after all, but GM Kenny Williams has decided to “restock” rather than rebuild. The staff of Danks, Floyd, Humber, Sale, and Peavy leaves little to be desired. Negativity aside, they still play in a huge market, and have an aggressive GM, and proactive owner, so they aren’t completely in shambles, and there’s always the saying “You can’t keep a good dog down.” If the team gets off to a good start they’ll definitely be buyers at the deadline, if Rios and Dunn turn into pumpkins again expect a fire sale.
Player to watch
RHP Addison Reed
Reed spent some time in the bullpen last season for the Pales Hose, He’s a mid 90’s fire baller with adequate secondary pitches. Closing for the San Diego State at the collegiate level, many in the White Sox organization believe he could transition into a starter.
5. Minnesota Twins
A swift fall from grace has landed the former contenders in a thicket of hard times and bad luck. Not all that long ago the M&M brothers (Morneau & Mauer) were winning MVP awards, and carrying a team of role players to the postseason. Injuries to the Neck, Wrist, and Head of Morneau have turned the budding star into a shell of his former self. Mauer, has seemed to lose his power, and hasn’t quite been the picture of health himself. Michael Cuddyer, easily the team’s best player last year cashed in on his rock solid season by signing with the Colorado Rockies. Josh Willingham was brought in to soften the departure of Cuddyer and should be solid in Right Field.
Former Expo, Marlin, and notorious Yankee bust, Carl Pavano has found new life at Target Field, and should be a solid starter. Francisco Liriano, a onetime rising star took another step back last season and needs to work his way back to form. Returning from injury is Denard Span, he should provide some consistency at the top of the order, and play above average defense in Center Field.
Players to watch
RHP Kyle Gibson
Gibson is an innings eater, the type that you really seldom see now-a-days. An above average fast ball mixed with a groundball inducing slider, and plus changeup, could help Gibson get his first taste of the “show” before seasons end. Jason Marquis and Brian Duensing is the only thing standing in his way.
By: Garrett Frasco
> View all of the 2011 MLB team previews from MLB Center.com!