Major League Baseball is back in action on April 1st, and the AL Central Division expects to make some noise. Three out of the eight American League playoff teams in 2020 came from the Central Division. The Minnesota Twins won the division, with the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox each earning expanded wild card spots.
Unfortunately for the Central, none of the aforementioned squads reached the Division Series, but that might change in 2021. The White Sox are currently rated as the most likely team to play the Yankees in the AL Championship Series. Nothing is guaranteed, but MLB is planning to go back to the full season schedule and the traditional playoff format. As of this writing, the Chisox (+850) have the third-strongest World Series odds.
Chicago boosted its chances with a few key offseason pickups, and the Central predominantly looks like a two-dog race. Expect the White Sox and Twins to tangle for the top spot, following the Indians’ step back in the offseason. Cleveland’s trade of Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco to the Mets must sting a frustrated Indians’ fanbase, but that’s baseball. Sometimes it’s dollars and cents, rather than dollars and sense.
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2020 Record and 2021 Odds to Win Central Division
|Team||2020 W-L Record||2020 DIV |
|2020 O/U||2021 Division Odds|
|Chicago White Sox||35-25||25-15||27-31-2||-150|
|Kansas City Royals||26-34||17-23||22-36-2||+5000|
Chicago White Sox
The White Sox have high hopes, after adding Lance Lynn, Liam Hendricks, and Adam Eaton to an already potent roster. Having Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel, and Lynn as the top three in Chicago’s starting rotation must make fans smile. Hendricks has been elite the last couple of seasons, and he joins a solid White Sox bullpen.
Star shortstop Tim Anderson won the batting title in 2019 with a .335 average, and he’s here to stay. Anderson hit .322 in 2020, while finishing tied for the AL lead in runs scored with 45. The 2013 first-round pick is the face of the White Sox franchise, and he dazzles us both at the plate and on the field.
The “total package,” which Chicago has put together is formidable, indeed. Center fielder Luis Robert and third baseman Yoan Moncada are each MVP-caliber and are expected to bounce back. Robert ended an otherwise stellar 2020 campaign with an 11-for-81 hitting slump, while Moncada’s bout with COVID-19 hurt his performance. If this White Sox team is healthy and clicking, they will be extremely difficult to beat over the course of a 162-game season.
2021 Win Total Over/Under: 89½ Predicted Record: 101-61
The Twins are the current kings of the AL Central mountain and have one of the toughest lineups in MLB. Minnesota re-signed slugger Nelson Cruz and bolstered its defense with the addition of Gold Glove SS Andrelton Simmons. The Twins’ pitching staff also received a positive jolt when SP J.A. Happ and closer Alex Colome came to town.
Happ just recently joined his new team in Minnesota after testing positive for covid19 at the beginning of camp. The veteran hurler still doesn’t have his sense of smell or taste back yet, but hopefully, that returns soon. The Twins will need him if they hope to compete with Chicago and retain the AL Central crown.
2021 Win Total Over/Under: 88½ Predicted Record: 97-65
Teams like the Cleveland Indians can break your heart if you let them. The small market mentality gobbles up talented teams that could be in contention, spitting them out prematurely. Thank God I’m a New York Yankees fan. The trade of Lindor and Carrasco to the other N.Y. organization most likely set Cleveland back a few years.
It was only in 2016 that the Indians were locked in a 6-6 tie with the Cubs in Game 7 of the World Series. Cleveland of course lost that epic game (and series) in extra innings, and hasn’t won a title since 1948. So close, but yet so far. Lindor was on that amazing 2016 Indians team, but now his hopes are riding on the Amazin’ Mets of 2021.
Perhaps this team will come out peeved and dedicated to proving everyone wrong, rising above the malarkey of small markets. That would make things interesting in the AL Central.
2021 Win Total Over/Under: 80½ Predicted Record: 90-72
Detroit’s biggest offseason acquisition was manager A.J. Hinch, and he’s in place to shepherd the Tigers into a bright future. The Tigers’ farm system is top-notch, and Detroit is hoping that Hinch will help to mold a home-grown champion. The 2021 season will likely be one of development and growing pains for Detroit, but keep your eyes on them.
2021 Win Total Over/Under: 66½ Predicted Record: 71-91
Kansas City Royals
The Royals don’t have the pieces to be a contender but they are moving in the right direction. Kansas City added veterans Carlos Santana, Andrew Benintendi, Michael A. Taylor, and Mike Minor to shake up its roster. It’s hard to imagine the Royals competing again anytime soon, but you never really know how the ball will bounce.
2021 Win Total Over/Under: 72 ½ Predicted Record: 63-99
Predicted End of Season AL Central Division Standings:
1st: Chicago White Sox 101-61
2nd:Minnesota Twins 97-65
3rd: Cleveland Indians 90-72
4th: Detroit Tigers 71-91
5th: Kansas City Royals 63-99
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