MLB: Marc Griffin analyzes the forces present in the American Central Division

Overview of the other sections: National West – National Central – National East – American West

Here is the portrait of the Central Division of the American League where the Chicago White Sox seem alone in their world.

1- Chicago White Sox

Very few changes for the White Sox during the off-season and we can understand them. After 93 wins in 2021 and a differential of +160, the White Sox are really not far from reaching the top honors. Carlos Rodon, Ryan Tepera, Billy Hamilton and César Hernandez are those who won’t wear Sox uniforms in 2022. Josh Harrison has been signed to play second base and three-pitch; Kendall Graveman, Joe Kelly and Vince Velasquez who introduced themselves to Tony LaRussa. The presence of Graveman certainly weighed in the balance in order to trade Craig Kimbrel to the Dodgers in return for AJ Pullock.

The White Sox have a very well balanced roster. Several good young veterans like Yoan Moncada who is only 26 years old, Tim Anderson is only 28 years old. Luis Robert is very young at 24 and Eloy Jimenez is 25. José Abreu (35 years old) and Yasmani Grandal (33 years old) will ensure the experience in support of the youngest. Pullock also solidifies the outfield.

On the mound, the White Sox have some of the best rotations. Lance Lynn (however on the sidelines at the start of the season), Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease, Dallas Keuchel and Michael Kopech. If Kopech throws like he can, this rotation can carry this team to the American League Championship, no less.

In relief, Liam Hendricks and Kendall Graveman will do most of the work late in the game and we can even count on Aaron Bummer. However, Garrett Hook will have Tommy John-style surgery and Joe Kelly will start the season on the injured list. Possibly a little less depth than anticipated in relief, but the team will have the opportunity to move if it becomes a real challenge.

It is therefore without real flaws that the White Sox begin the 2022 season.

2- Minnesota Twins

The Twins have been talked about very positively in recent weeks. They first traded Josh Donaldson and his $50M contract to the Yankees and a few days later signed the best available free agent, Carlos Correa. In the transaction with the Yankees, the Twins also obtained the receiver and / or hitter of choice Gary Sanchez as well as Gio Urshela. Michael Pineda, Mitch Garver, Andrelton Simmons and Alex Colomé are the other main players who left the organization. Isiah Kiner-Falefa flew by the team after he had just been acquired from the Texas Rangers.

Correa’s presence immediately puts the Twins in an advantageous situation. Correa will be surrounded by Byron Buxton, Jorge Polanco, Miguel Sano and youngster Alex Kirilloff. Not to mention the two former Yankees, Sanchez and Urshela. Correa’s contribution won’t just be on offense, but his defensive game will greatly help the pitching staff.

It is at the mound that there seems to be a question mark. The Twins traded for Sonny Gray and signed Dylan Bundy and Chris Archer. Joe Ryan and Bailor Ober will complete the rotation. Bundy and Archer are far from reassuring. Kenta Maeda and Randy Dobnak will start the season on the injured list.

In relief, Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffy and Jorge Alcala will work to save the end of the game. Manager Rocco Baldelli is highly respected and will have a say in the Twins’ possible success. Good team, but it will not be enough, in my opinion, to heat the White Sox.

3- Detroit Tigers

This is an intriguing team that could cause some upset in 2022. A few veteran pitchers are no longer with the team, including Derek Holland, Julio Teheran and José Urena. The Tigers have shown their seriousness by granting long-term contracts to Javier Baez and left-handed pitcher Edouardo Rodriguez in addition to having traded for receiver Tucker Barnhart. All three players will have an immediate impact with the team.

Miguel Cabrera is still there, and although he has slowed down, he is no longer alone in carrying the attack. Akil Baddoo is a spectacular player (and what about his name!) and will be an important element with Baez at the top of the starting lineup. But what I’m looking forward to seeing from this team on offense is the performance of the organization’s future players one and two, first baseman Spencer Torkelson and center fielder Riley Greene.

Speaking of youngsters, the Tigers rotation is made up of four pitchers from the organization, including the team’s 2016 No. 1 pick, Matt Manning, and 2018 No. 1 overall pick, Casey Mize. Tarik Scubal and Tyler Alexander are the others and this is where Edouardo Rodriguez’s contracting becomes very important. Gregory Soto and Michael Farmer will be employed late in the game.

The Tigers are heading in the right direction. If the kids respond well, that team will have a record over .500.

4- Cleveland Guardians

Cleveland will have a young team. What seems to be emerging is that all position players as well as all starting pitchers will be under 30 years old. Roberto Perez 33, Wilson Ramos 34 and Blake Parker 37 have left the team.

Here’s what the starting lineup should look like:

  1. Mr. Straw 8 / 27 years old
  2. A. Rosario 6/26 years old
  3. J. Ramirez 5 / 29 years old
  4. F. Reyes DH / 26 years old
  5. J. Naylor 9 / 24 years old
  6. B. Bradley 3 / 25 years old
  7. A. Jimenez 4 / 23 years old
  8. A. Hurdles 2 / 29 years old
  9. S. Kwan 7 / 24 years old

Starting pitchers are the team’s greatest strength and they’re the ones who will dictate what kind of season the Guardians will have. Shane Bieber, Cal Quantrill, Zach Plesac, Aaron Civale and Triston Mckenzie. They are young and they are good. Only Quantrill was not developed by the organization so quite an achievement on the part of the team to fish and develop well. Plesac is older at 27! In relief, Emmanuel Clase, who is only 24 years old, will finish the matches. It should be noted that James Karinchak is injured and will not be able to start the season.

If the pitchers hold up, Terry Francona’s squad can hope to average at least .500.

5- Kansas City Royals

Not a bad team these Royals, but they seem to lack depth on the mound which will make it difficult to stay in the fight. A few veteran pitchers are no longer with them, including Ervin Santana, Wade Davis, Jesse Hahn and Mike Minor. Minor was traded to the Reds for Amir Garrett. Zach Greinke will return to the team that drafted him in 2002. Greinke was also named the starter in the Royals’ opener.

Salvador Perez will try to repeat his magnificent season of last year (48 CC and 121 PP). Witt Merrifield, Carlos Santana, Andrew Benintendi, Adalberto Mondesi and the young prodigy Bobby Wiit Jr will take care of the attack. Witt Jr is the kind of player you can build around.

The rotation of the starters is less convincing than the attack. Besides Greinke, Brad Keller, Brady Singer, Kris Bubic and Carlos Hernandez make up the rotation. Greinke is 38 and then we go to Keller who is 26. They are therefore young and we will have to be patient with them. They’ve shown so far that they can hold their own in major league baseball, but there’s still no indication of a performance like the young starters of the Guardians, for example. Scott Barlow will have the task of finishing the matches while Josh Staumont and Amir Garrett will prepare the table for him.

Mike Matheny will be in his third season at the helm of the team.

Predictions 2022:

  1. White socks
  2. Twins
  3. tigers
  4. Guardians
  5. Royals

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