Three of the five franchises in the AL Central Divison have won the division in back-to-back seasons. The Chicago White Sox are heavy favorites to join that club according to the MLB playoff odds.
The other four teams finished with losing records a season ago and that could happen once again. That is not going to be the case much longer as there is a ton of young talent in this division The two players with the best odds to be the American League Rookie of the Year are Bobby Witt Jr. of the Kansas City Royals and Spencer Torkelson of the Detroit Tigers.
The Chicago White Sox are tied for the fifth-best odds to have the best record in the American League. Sixteen teams are ahead of the next AL Central squad.
Keep on reading for more of what to expect from AL Central teams and some information for those who bet online to consider.
Chicago White Sox
- Odds to win division: -200
- Odds to win World Series: +1100
- 2021 record: 93-69, 1st AL Central
- Top award candidates: Lucas Giolito, 4th AL Cy Young (+1000); Dylan Cease, 5th AL Cy Young (+1200); Luis Robert, 10th AL MVP (+2500).
The Chicago White Sox don’t lack talent, that is for sure. Dylan Cease, Lucas Giolito, and Michael Kopech can all bring it. Veterans Dallas Kuechel and Lance Lynn should combine for more than the 20 wins they had last season while Joe Kelly came in from the Los Angeles Dodgers to improve the bullpen. Closer Craig Kimbrel has had more success in the National League but he did record 24 saves a season ago.
If outfielder Luis Robert’s 2021 stats were projected over a full season, he would have hit .338 with 31 homers and 102 RBIs.
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) March 30, 2022
Add in Tim Anderson, Jose Abreau, Yoan Moncada along with offseason acquisition Josh Harrison and scoring runs shouldn’t be a problem.
The Las Vegas odds project the White Sox as having the fourth-best record among American League teams and that might be selling this team short.
- Odds to win division: +550
- Odds to win World Series: +6600
- 2021 record: 73-89, 5th AL Central
- Top award candidate: Joe Ryan, 8th AL Rookie of the Year (+1800).
Minnesota wasn’t shy about trying to improve its roster. Former World Series champion Carlos Correa came in from Houston to anchor the infield. Pitchers Chris Archer, Dylan Bundy, and Sonny Gray were all added and are reclamation projects.
Gary Sanchez will add some power to the lineup from the catcher position as he joins infielder Gio Urshela as pickups from the New York Yankees. They will join Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano in what should be an improved offensive team.
Joe Ryan won two of his five starts in 2021 and he should get a chance to show what he can do in the Minnesota starting rotation.
- Odds to win division: +700.
- Odds to win World Series: +4000.
- 2021 record: 77-85, 3rd AL Central.
- Top award candidates: Spencer Torkelson, 2nd AL Rookie of the Year (+375); Riley Greene, 7th AL Rookie of the Year (+1800).
All the high-end draft picks are getting ready to contribute at the Major League level.
Former first-round picks Casey Mize and Matt Manning join Tarik Skubal to give Detroit three promising pitchers 25 or younger.
Catcher Tucker Barnhart was brought in to work with the young hurlers. A bigger addition might be infielder Javier Baez. There are still some question marks in the batting order but with all the kids figuring things out, this could be a dangerous team. Will that happen this year? It is too early to tell.
Torkelson is a former No. 1 overall pick but it remains to be seen where he will spend the bulk of the 2022 season.
- Odds to win division: +900
- Odds to win World Series: +7500
- 2021 record: 80-82, 2nd AL Central
- Top award candidate: Shane Bieber, 2nd AL Cy Young (+600); Jose Ramirez, 6th AL MVP (+2000).
The Indians are no more and now it will be the Guardians trying to end a long World Series drought for Cleveland’s MLB franchise. The new nickname didn’t impact the MLB picks for the team.
Bieber is a legitimate ace who was limited to 16 starts in 2021. Aaron Civale, who won 12 games a season ago, is expected to miss 4-5 weeks with a finger injury. Zach Plesac is looking to bounce back after seeing his ERA jump from 2.28 in 2020 to 4.67 in 2021.
Cal Quantrill is another pitcher in his 20s with a good track record while closer Emmanuel Clase was a revelation in 2021 so Cleveland has plenty of arms to work with.
Other than Jose Ramirez, it is hard to know what to expect from the Guardians’ offense. Eight position players currently on the roster are 25 or younger. They won’t need to score much to win games if the pitchers live up to their potential.
Kansas City Royals
- Odds to win division: +1400
- Odds to win World Series: +10000
- 2021 record: 74-88, 4th AL Central
- Top award candidates: Bobby Witt Jr., 1st AL Rookie of the Year (+325).
There is plenty of excitement to see what shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. will be able to bring to the Royals’ lineup. There’s little questioning what catcher Salvador Perez is capable of after bashing 48 homers last season. Whit Merrifield, Andrew Benintendi, and Carlos Santana could take some of the pressure off of Witt.
Former ace Zack Greinke is back and Amir Garrett came in to give the bullpen an elite arm. The rest of the starting rotation is a bit of a work in progress and that is evident by what the MLB lines are projecting this year’s Royals team to finish.
Greinke is one of two Kansas City pitchers 30 or over so, what type of season the Royals will have could come down to how quickly the pitchers prove they can get it done at the Major League level.