The Cleveland Indians ran away with the central last season; they made some key acquisitions last season and went on to the World Series. The Chicago White Sox have committed to a full rebuild, while the Minnesota Twins and the Detroit Tigers are trying to win with home grown talent.
Cleveland Indians (94-67):
Projected 2017 Record (92-70)
As mentioned, the Cleveland Indians won the AL Central and dominated in the postseason before falling to the Chicago Cubs in the World Series. At the deadline last year, they went out and got reliever Andrew Miller, and set the world on fire. With Cleveland, Miller appeared in 26 games, and in 29 innings he posted a 4-0 record with a 1.55 ERA, 46 strikeouts and walked just two (2!) batters. The starting pitching was also a strong point last season. Highlighting that rotation were Corey Kluber and Danny Salazar.
This season, the Indians look to make another run for the AL Central title and the World Series. They will have Andrew Miller for the whole season, star infielders Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor, and the newly acquired Edwin Encarnacion, and of course, a healthy starting rotation.
Indians Player to Watch: Francisco Lindor
Lindor is entering his second full major league season. Lindor is a defensive wizard at shortstop and is excellent at the dish as well. He may not have extraordinary power, but he can get on base. Last season, he posted a slash of .301/.358/.435 with 15 home runs and 78 RBI’s.
I expect Lindor’s average to drop a few points to .295 but OBP and slugging should stay about the same as pitchers begin to figure out his hot and cold zones. I expect Lindor to finish the year with a slash of .295/.360/.448.
Detroit Tigers (86-75):
Projected 2017 Record (81-81)
Last season the Tigers postseason hopes were killed on the final day of the season after a 1-0 loss to the Atlanta Braves, and wins by the Orioles and Blue Jays. They look to get back into the postseason this season. They’ll look to their ace Justin Verlander and offensive standout Miguel Cabrera to lead this aging club to eternal glory as World Champions.
Verlander was himself again last season after a disappointing 2015. He posted a 16-9 record with 3.04 ERA in 227.2 IP with 254 strikeouts. Verlander finished second in the Cy Young voting behind Boston’s Rick Porcello.
Tigers Player to Watch: Miguel Cabrera
Although Miggy’s average dropped to .316 last season, 22 points lower than 2015, his production was higher than the previous year. He belted 38 home runs while driving in 108 runs.
I expect Cabrera to put up a slash of .320/.405/.565 while smashing 40 home runs and driving in 114.
Kansas City Royals (81-81):
Projected 2017 Record (75-87)
Last season was a disappointing one for the Royals, as they failed to make it the postseason for the first time since 2014. Their season also lasted until the last day of the season. The Royals have signed inf. Brandon Moss, and traded for left fielder Jorge Soler in hopes to add some power into their lineup.
The Royals will begin their season with heavy hearts as starter Yordano Ventura tragically passed away in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic. Ventura played all four, three full, seasons with the Royals. He had a career record of 38-31 in 93 starts with a 3.89 ERA in 547.2 IP and 470 strikeouts. Ventura was part of the 2014 World Series runner-up team, as well as the 2015 World Champion team.
Royals Player to Watch: Lorenzo Cain
Cain missed about a month last season with a hamstring injury, which caused his production to drop from what it was in 2015. He had a slash line of .287/.339/.408 with nine home runs and 56 RBI’s. Cain also had 14 stolen bases on 19 attempts.
I expect Cain to have a healthy year. If so, he should have no problem putting up a slash of .295/.345/.410 with 25 stolen bases, 11 home runs and 75 RBI’s.
Chicago White Sox (78-84):
Projected 2017 Record (69-93)
The White Sox had a horrific 2016 season. It seemed that they were set up for victory with ace Chris Sale, slugger Jose Abreu among others, but they didn’t click. It seemed Sale was going to be traded before the deadline after he threw a tantrum and cut up the teams jerseys, but nothing came of it.
The offseason was huge for Chicago. They finally committed to a full rebuild. They traded Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox for one of their top 30 prospects; most notably infielder Yoan Moncada and pitcher Michael Kopech. They also traded Adam Eaton to the Nationals for top prospects Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Dane Dunning. So while fans may not be looking forward to this season, but have reason to be excited for next season and the 2019 season.
White Sox Player to Watch: Jose Abreu
Abreu has been consistent at the plate in his three years in the MLB. Last season he finished with a slash line of .293/.353/.468 with 25 home runs and 101 RBI’s.
I expect Abreu to post a slash of .295/.358/.475 with 28 home runs and 108 RBI’s.
Minnesota Twins (59-103):
Projected 2017 Record (74-88)
Last off-season, the twins signed Korean slugger Byung-ho Park in hopes of improving upon 2015 in which they finished 83-79. Miguel Sano‘s second season was highly anticipated, as he had a decent rookie year in which he finished with a slash of .269/.385/.530 with 18 homers and 52 RBI’s. He didn’t produce as much as the organization had hoped last season though.
Twins Player to Watch: Brian Dozier
Dozier had a career year last year; he set career highs in average (.268), slugging (.546), RBI (99), Home Runs (42), triples (5) and hits (165). He finished with a slash of .268/.340/.546.
I expect Dozier’s numbers to dip a bit this season. He’ll likely finish with a slash of .256/.345/.514 with 33 home runs and 101 RBI’s.