Three members of Covers’ editorial team – namely Andrew Avery, Andrew Caley and Justin Hartling – continue their tour around the bigs to take a stab at where oddsmakers will open win totals for each club.
The next stop is the American League Central.
Click here to view their projections on the AL East.
American League Central
2014 record: 90-72
2014 win total: 89.5
Andrew Avery: Remember when Justin Verlander was awesome? He hit a wall last season and was pretty brutal. Still, I love Price and Anibal Sanchez is pretty awesome for a mid-rotation guy, then you’ve got Alfredo Simon too. So their starters might be ok. Plus, the Miggy factor. Oddsmakers had them at 89.5 last season, so I think that same number is apropos again this time around.
Justin Hartling: This team has not seen a lot of turnover this offseason, so a total around the same as last year seems right. The Tigers were third in the majors in runs per game last season, but they were 24 in ERA (4.06). The pitching staff will be solid, but Detroit needs to get some more help there if they expect to make a long postseason run.
Andrew Caley: David Price and Anibal Sanchez have to carry this rotation now and while I like Alfredo Simon, he is not Max Scherzer. Adding Yeonis Cespedes to help protect Miguel Cabrera in an already potent lineup is nice. I think the loss of Scherzer counts for something though: Prediction: 87.5.
Kansas City Royals
2014 record: 89-73
2014 win total: 82.5
Andrew Caley: The Royals were just two runs away from being World Series champs and now I find myself wondering if this is even the second best team in this division? This team will need to be led by a staff more anchored by young Yordano Ventura and top notch defense. Prediction: 85.5 wins.
Andrew Avery: It was a great story and reinforced the magic of the MLB postseason, but this team – and fanbase – should brace for a big letdown year. Ventura looked really freaking good at times in the playoffs so he’s something to look forward to. If some of those bats can see an uptick in production – Gordon, Hosmer, and ESPECIALLY Moose – they finish second. I like the 85.5 number as well here.
Justin Hartling: I feel like the Royals won’t suffer a large dropoff by losing James Shields. They did sign Edinson Volquez, who should be a fine replacement, and Kris Medlen, who could be above average if he is healed after his surgery. Remember, the Royals were one of the top contact teams at the plate last season, coming in fourth in hits. I think their number will be a little inflated after their World Series run, but I see 86.5 being fair.
2014 record: 85-77
2014 win total: 81.5
Andrew Avery: Corey Kluber is awesome. 82.5 wins.
Justin Hartling: No argument on Kluber, but can you name another pitcher in their rotation?
Andrew Avery: Charles Nagy?
Andrew Caley: This team intrigues me, and yes Kluber is awesome. I also love what Michael Brantley, Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana bring to the table, but they will be relying on a young staff and a fielding team that committed the most errors in 2014. Prediction: 83.5.
Andrew Avery: I love Kipnis and would love to see a 162-game season from him. Only 129 games last year and that .240 average is an anomaly I feel.
Justin Hartling: The Tribe needed to find some solid pitching depth this offseason and the best they could muster is grabbing Gavin Floyd. Playing the Tigers and Royals so much this season means it could be a rough year. I’ll put them optimistically at 80.5.
Chicago White Sox
2014 record: 73-89
2014 win total: 75
Andrew Avery: This is the real X-Factor in the Central, right? The front end of that rotation is pretty damn good. If Chris Sale builds on that monster 2014 season, good lord. Just watch out. Also, a Jose Abreu-Melky Cabrera 1-2 punch is pretty impressive. I think oddsmakers are taking this team seriously and I feel like 86.5 wins might be realistic when wins get released.
Justin Hartling: Last season, pitching is what really killed the White Sox. They ranked 27th in team ERA and 28th in run differential, but in the top half of the league in all major hitting categories. My only real concern is the closer situation, as David Robertson was wildly inconsistent last season. He is good for a couple terrible outings a month, which is a concern in such a deep division. A total at 85.5 would be giving the starting rotation the respect it deserves.
Andrew Caley: The White Sox are poised to make a big jump in the standings. Pairing Jeff Samardjiza with Chris Sale could be one the best one-two punches in baseball. I like the moves to bring in Melky Cabrera and Adam LaRoche to bolster the offense. They will be another sexy pick. Prediction: 85.5.
2014 record: 70-92
2014 win total: 70.5
Justin Hartling: This team could be better than their record indicated last year, if they can get some decent pitching. Not a single pitcher that is currently projected to start for the Twins had an ERA under 3.52 last season, while sporting a team ERA of 4.57. I’m certainly not holding my breath waiting to watch this team play, I’m expecting a total around 73.5.
Andrew Avery: A paltry 70 wins last season and this will be low man in the American League. Love Molitor though, so I’ll be following this team closely purely because he’s the manager. This team needs Byron Buxton and it needs him fast. I’m thinking 71.5 wins for the ol’ Twinkies.
Andrew Caley: I love the hiring of Paul Molitor, I just don’t know if that will be enough. The Twins also now have a stability at the front end of their rotation with Phil Hughes and Ervin Santana. But aside from Joe Mauer and Tori Hunter, this roster is inexperienced. Prediction: 73.5 wins.
What do you think? Leave your thoughts on win totals for the AL Central clubs in the comments section.