The American League Central is next and should be an interesting division this year. Cleveland and KC would love to knock Detroit off the pedestal in the AL East. I think all three of these teams are contenders this year. Detroit has been winning the division but not getting to the World Series. They would love to get there this year, and could possibly do it. Cleveland is a solid team under Francona and will contend for the division this year. KC looks strong with very strong pitching and have improved offensively with Infante at second.
I’m not sure how much of an effect a new manager is going to have on the Tigers. It’s a veteran club, so I think I am going to pick the Tigers to win this division once again. But I do think it will be a tight race with KC coming in second and contending for a wild card. Cleveland is also going to contend in this division, which will make these divisional games a lot of fun. I do think the Twins will improve this year, but not quite enough to contend and I believe will end up in fourth with the White Sox bringing up the rear. It will be a great division to watch and I think KC and Cleveland with battle down to the last game for a wild card.
We don’t agree as much on the American League outcomes as with the National League. I think the Tigers are a great team, but will see some transitions with aging players and a new manager. Brad Ausmus should be great, but it will take some time to gel; I think they’re going to miss Leyland for a while. Now, Terry Francona at the Indians is moving into his second year there and I think this is their year to shine. So I have the Indians at the top, KC and Detroit battling it out for second and third, Twins in fourth, and, sorry Robin, White Sox at the bottom.
This is a great division because there are some exceptional managers here. Ron Gardenhire has always impressed me in the past by doing a lot with very few dollars. The Twins have struggled the last few years, but it may be time for a break out year; it’s time to shine in that new field. Tito has a particular way of managing and it could be the softer side of Francona will work well for the Indians – that’s a team that could rival some of their big years in the 80s. Ned Yost has always been a strong manager, although I’d love to know why he was fired from the Brewers with a few weeks left in the season in 2008. There has to be a great story there – I’ve made up a few myself. But he and George Brett seem to have something cooking in Kansas City and I think it’s just about ready. They had a huge, late-season surge last year and just barely missed the playoffs. I think they’ll do it this year.