Everyone perceives the AL Central to be wide-open this season. I agree. BUT, it seems like most experts are favoring the Cleveland Indians to win the division.
Over the last seven years, this has been Minnesota’s and Chicago’s division.
Cleveland had somewhat of a fluky year in 2007 when Fausto Carmona and
CC Sabathia dominated the AL. CC is gone now, and who knows if Carmona
will ever be healthy or great again.
And the rest of that rotation? Come on. Carl Pavano as your third starter? Do experts really think they can win with THAT GUY as a big part of the staff? This team has a well-below average 3rd, 4th (Anthony Reyes) and 5th starter (Scott Lewis) and the No. 1 (Cliff Lee) and No. 2 (Carmona) have big question marks. The bullpen should be better this season, but good luck winning a division (even a sub-par one like the Central) with that rotation.
I think Chicago has to be the favorites right now. First off, the White Sox won the Central last season. And no team in that division can compete with the 1-2-3 combination of Mark Buehrle/Gavin Floyd/John Danks at the front of the rotation. The back-end of the starting roation is certainly a question mark with Jose Contreras and Bartolo Colon, but they have one of the best bullpens in baseball led by Scott Linebrink, Matt Thornton, Octavio Dotel and Bobby Jenks. All four guys are strikeout machines.
And the offense will once again be good. Remember, they have led the MLB in home runs three times in the past five seasons and have 200 or more HR in eight of the last nine.
Minnesota always seems to find a way to be in the mix and this year should be no different. But with Joe Mauer out for an undetermined amount of time, Boof Bonser out for the season, Pat Neshek on the 60-Day DL and Scott Baker on the 15-day DL, it would be tough to call Minnesota “the favorites” at this point.
I’m not saying that Cleveland can’t win the Central. They can. So can Minnesota and even Detroit. But for whatever reason everyone seems to be overlooking the White Sox and overrating the Indians right now, and I’m really not sure why.