AL Central now a powerhouse

By Steve Sell
May 25, 2015

I’m always telling people that everything at some point becomes cyclical.

Sustainability can last for only so long. Change is inevitable. And it’s happening in the American League’s Central Division.

Once the AL’s doorstop division, the Central is flexing its muscles and the 19 head-to-head games the teams play against each other should be fascinating.

Detroit is still considered the division’s strong boy, even though it has been usurped by Kansas City and it’s tangling with upstart Minnesota for second place. 

The Royals, of course, have baseball’s best record at 28-15 as they head out on the road this week to play at venerable parks Yankee Stadium and Wrigley Field. They are a passable 11-8 on the road, with a sturdy 17-7 record at Kauffman Stadium, a place that until recently they couldn’t wait to escape from. The Royals haven’t been a good home team for quite a long time, but they’re putting those troubles to bed.

Minnesota, which looked so awful the first week of the season and appeared to be a candidate for 100 losses, has turned it around behind first-year manager Paul Molitor. The Twins are a poor man’s Royals, as they copy many of the same characteristics, though they don’t have near the talent level.

There are whispers about the Tigers going around. While they have top-heavy starting pitching that should get a boost when Justin Verlander comes back, Miguel Cabrera can only carry the offense on his back for so long. Victor Martinez, the other half of the “M and M Boys,” has a 60-year-old knee that has basically rendered him a shell of his former self.

I don’t think you’ll get many arguments that from top to bottom now, Kansas City has the more talented and deeper roster, not to mention the Royals have a huge edge in athleticism.

Then you can’t forget Cleveland and Chicago. Cleveland was my trendy pick during the preseason as I loved its lefty-filled lineup and there was so much potential in the rotation. The Indians have won eight of their last 10 and always seem to give the Royals fits in Cleveland, where KC wins very few games.

Chicago is in last, but just three games under .500. The White Sox haven’t fired on all cylinders yet, but have shown recent signs of getting their act together.

For years, all the American League talk centered on the mighty East. But the five teams are combined 10 games under .500 and all have serious flaws. I had Baltimore picked at the start because of manager Buck Showalter and still believe they’re the team to beat if they can figure out how to win on the road. The Yankees look old, the Red Sox don’t have a dominant starting pitcher, all Toronto can do is hit homers and Tampa Bay doesn’t have the resources to add any talent if it’s in the hunt.

In the AL West, the overachieving Astros will hit the skids at some point, but their ability to win on the road (14-6) is astounding. The window is closing for the Angels while at some point I have to believe Seattle is going to get it figured out. Texas doesn’t have enough pitching and Oakland has the AL’s worst record, but it always seems to take off on a sizz of something like 14-2.

At this point, both wild-cards might come from the Central. However, those teams will take turns beating each other in September. But who from the East or West can overtake them? It’s only going to take 85 wins to secure titles in those divisions. The AL Central could have three teams win that many games.