A team-by-team preview of the AL Central.

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1 | Detroit Tigers

He’s here: OF Torii Hunter.

He’s outta here: OF Brennan Boesch, C Gerald Laird, OF Ryan Raburn, LHP Daniel Schlereth, RHP Jose Valverde, DH Delmon Young.

Written in Stone: The Tigers’ already potent lineup, anchored by Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, should be even better, and not just because of the addition of Torii Hunter. They also get back Victor Martinez, last seen hitting .330 and driving in 103 runs in 2011 before knee surgery wiped out all of 2012. And it’s hard to knock a rotation anchored by Justin Verlander and bolstered all season by Anibal Sanchez, acquired last July from the Marlins. Rick Porcello, reportedly on the trade block all winter, won the fifth starting job over Drew Smyly, and ex-Mariner Doug Fister is always solid. But if the Tigers want to get back to the World Series, they’ll have to figure out their bullpen. Rookie Bruce Rondon, who throws 100 mph, was supposed to be the closer, but he flamed out in spring and was sent down. Jim Leyland will start the year with the dreaded “committee,” which is always ominous.

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Players Avg HR RBI
CF Austin Jackson .300 16 66
RF Torii Hunter .313 16 92
3B M. Cabrera .330 44 139
1B Prince Fielder .313 30 108
DH V. Martinez* .330 12 103
LF Andy Dirks .322 8 35
SS Jhonny Peralta .239 13 63
C Alex Avila .243 9 48
2B Omar Infante .274 12 53
Starters W-L ERA SO
RH J. Verlander 17-8 2.64 239
RH M. Scherzer 16-7 3.74 231
RH Doug Fister 10-10 3.45 137
RH A. Sanchez 9-13 3.86 167
RH Rick Porcello 10-12 4.59 153
Closer ERA SV BS
RH J. Benoit 3.68 2 4

*2011 statistics.

2 | Kansas City Royals

He’s here: RHP Ervin Santana, RHP James Shields, RHP Wade Davis.

He’s outta here: INF Yuniesky Betancourt, LHP Jonathan Sanchez, RHP Jonathan Broxton, RHP Joakim Soria, C Humberto Quintero.

Written in Stone: The Royals have had one winning season since 1994, so patience has been a necessity. But the long-awaited fruits of a prosperous minor-league system could finally be seen this year. They used one of their primo prospects, Wil Myers, as the prime trade chip to land James Shields and Wade Davis from Tampa Bay. The Royals will have four starters they didn’t have last year at the All-Star break (Shields, Davis, Ervin Santana and Jeremy Guthrie). Change was necessary, because KC’s starters put up a 5.01 ERA. Their bullpen was actually quite good, led by closer Greg Holland (91 strikeouts in 67 innings). Royals fans were dismayed to see Jeff Francoeur, coming off a terrible season, back in right field. And second baseman Chris Getz, who beat out Johnny Giavotella, doesn’t inspire much confidence.


Players Avg HR RBI
LF Alex Gordon .294 14 72
SS A. Escobar .293 5 52
DH Billy Butler .313 29 107
3B M. Moustakas .243 20 73
C Salvador Perez .301 11 39
1B Eric Hosmer .230 14 61
CF Lorenzo Cain .266 7 31
RF Jeff Francoeur .235 16 49
2B Chris Getz .275 0 17
Starters W-L ERA SO
RH J. Shields 15-10 3.52 223
RH E. Santana 9-13 5.16 133
RH J. Guthrie 8-12 4.76 101
RH Wade Davis 3-0 2.43 87
RH L. Mendoza 8-10 4.23 104
Closer ERA SV BS
RH G. Holland 2.96 16 4

3 | Chicago White Sox

He’s here: 3B Jeff Keppinger, RHP Matt Lindstrom.

He’s outta here: C A.J. Pierzynski, 3B Kevin Youkilis, RHP Brett Myers, SS Jose Lopez, OF Kosuke Fukudome, INF Orlando Hudson.

Written in Stone: The White Sox had a three-game division lead on Sept. 18, but lost 11 of their final 15 games as the Tigers shot past them. Still, 85 wins was more than most expected in Robin Ventura’s debut managerial season. The key was a productive offense that finished fourth in the AL in runs, as four players hit 25 or more homers. Adam Dunn led the way with 41, which helped compensate for the .204 average and 222 (!) strikeouts. Paul Konerko, 37, just keeps churning out .300 seasons, and this year will drop from cleanup to fifth in the order. He seems to be fine after left wrist surgery. The Sox will have a new regular catcher for the first time since 2004, with 27-year-old Tyler Flowers taking over for departed A.J. Pierzynski. A huge plus last year was the breakout of Chris Sale, who was slated originally for the bullpen but emerged as a Cy Young candidate with a 17-8 record. Veteran starter John Danks starts the year on the DL (left shoulder weakness).


Players Avg HR RBI
CF A. De Aza .281 9 50
3B J. Keppinger .325 9 40
RF Alex Rios .304 25 91
DH Adam Dunn .204 41 96
1B Paul Konerko .298 26 75
LF Dayan Viciedo .255 25 78
SS Alexei Ramirez .265 9 73
C Tyler Flowers .213 7 13
2B G. Beckham .234 16 60
Starters W-L ERA SO
RH Jake Peavy 11-12 3.37 194
LH Chris Sale 17-8 3.05 192
RH Gavin Floyd 12-11 4.29 144
LH J. Quintana 6-6 3.76 81
RH D. Axelrod 2-2 5.47 40
Closer ERA SV BS
RH A. Reed 4.75 29 4

4 | Cleveland Indians

He’s here: OF Michael Bourn, 1B Nick Swisher, OF Drew Stubbs, DH Mark Reynolds, RHP Brett Myers, LHP Scott Kazmir, INF/OF Ryan Raburn, INF Mike Aviles, RHP Matt Albers.

He’s outta here: OF Shin-Soo Choo, DH Travis Hafner, OF Grady Sizemore, INF Jack Hannahan, 1B Casey Kotchman, INF/OF Brent Lillibridge, INF Jason Donald, OF Johnny Damon.

Written in Stone: With four new starters — Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher, Mark Reynolds and Drew Stubbs — the Indians should have a vastly improved lineup after scoring fewer runs last year than any AL team but Seattle. The Indians are convinced that Lonnie Chisenhall, who hit better than .400 this spring, is poised for a breakout season. Terry Francona’s hiring as manager has infused the entire organization with a positive vibe. But, oh, that rotation. The top starters, Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez, lost a combined 32 games last year — and then it gets dicier. Waiting in Class AAA: Dice-K, who would be the Indians’ second Human Rain Delay. Closer Chris Perez missed most of training camp with a shoulder strain.


Players Avg HR RBI
CF Michael Bourn .274 9 57
SS A. Cabrera .270 16 66
2B Jason Kipnis .259 14 77
1B Nick Swisher .272 24 93
LF M. Brantley .286 6 60
C Carlos Santana .252 18 76
DH M. Reynolds .221 23 69
3B L. Chisenhall .268 5 16
RF Drew Stubbs .213 14 40
Starters W-L ERA SO
RH J. Masterson 11-15 4.93 159
RH U. Jimenez 9-17 5.55 143
RH Brett Myers 3-8 3.31 41
RH Z. McAllister 6-8 4.24 110
LH S. Kazmir* 9-15 5.94 93
Closer ERA SV BS
RH Chris Perez 3.59 39 4

*2010 statistics.

5 | Minnesota Twins

He’s here: RHP Mike Pelfrey, RHP Vance Worley, RHP Kevin Correia, CF Aaron Hicks.

He’s outta here: OF Denard Span, OF Ben Revere, RHP Scott Baker, LHP Francisco Liriano, RHP Carl Pavano, INF Alexi Casilla, RHP Matt Capps.

Written in Stone: The Twins, losers of a combined 195 games in back-to-back last-place seasons, still look like a hot mess. But the big hope is that the Justin Morneau-Joe Mauer killer combo will be back at full force, which can overcome a lot of deficiencies. Morneau seems to have put his concussions and surgeries in the past (and could be a monster trade chip at the deadline), while Mauer feels better this spring than he has in years and should contend for his fourth batting title. The shiny new toy is top prospect Aaron Hicks, who takes over in center despite never playing higher than Class AA. The Twins had the second-highest starters ERA in the majors last year, and based on spring performances, this year’s quintet could be just as bad. If it all falls apart again, longtime manager Ron Gardenhire could be in trouble. He’s at the end of his contract.


Players Avg HR RBI
CF Aaron Hicks* .286 13 61
2B Brian Dozier .234 6 33
C Joe Mauer .319 10 85
LF J. Willingham .260 35 110
1B J. Morneau .267 19 77
DH Ryan Doumit .275 18 75
RF Chris Parmelee .224 5 20
3B Trevor Plouffe .235 24 55
SS P. Florimon .219 1 10
Starters W-L ERA SO
RH V. Worley 6-9 4.20 107
RH Mike Pelfrey 7-13 4.74 105
RH Kevin Correia 12-11 4.21 89
RH Cole De Vries 5-5 4.11 58
LH S. Diamond 12-9 3.54 90
Closer ERA SV BS
LH Glen Perkins 2.56 16 4

*Minor-league statistics.

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