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And then there is the case of the Blue Jays to consider

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Ranking the AL/NL Central Teams: 10-6

If there is going to be a baseball season in 2020, there is a possibility that divisions will combine. If that is the case, how would the AL/NL central teams rank against each other? I tried figuring that out.
Image courtesy of © Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
10. Detroit Tigers
  • 2019 batting WAR: -2.6
  • 2019 pitching WAR: 11.2
  • Total WAR: 8.6
  • Key Addition(s): C.J. Cron, Jonathan Schoop
  • Key departure(s): N/A
The Tigers were one of the worst teams in MLB history last season, losing 114 games and having the only negative batting WAR in baseball. There isn’t much of anything that went well except for a couple of their young pitchers, Matthew Boyd and Spencer Turnbull, performing fairly well.

The starting pitching will be led by Boyd and Turnbull and potentially top prospect Casey Mize, but this team will not be good. Two of their best hitters are Jonathan Schoop and C.J. Cron. Neither of them would crack the current Twins lineup. I expect they will either finish 9th or 10th at best. They are still at least two years away from even a wild card race.

9. Pittsburgh Pirates
  • 2019 batting WAR: 10.9
  • 2019 pitching WAR: 8.8
  • Total WAR: 19.7
  • Key addition(s): N/A
  • Key departure(s): Starling Marte
Being a Pirates fan can’t be fun these days. For the second straight offseason, the team traded their best player and showed zero signs of attempting to compete in 2020. This team will continue to get worse before anything gets better. It’s a shame former Twins bench coach Derek Shelton will be stuck there.

The offense does have a few solid players like Bryan Reynolds, Josh Bell, and Kevin Newman but after that there is a major drop off. The rotation is led by Joe Musgrove and Chris Archer, two players the Twins could be looking to acquire at any point. Musgrove is easily their number one, but that’s not really a good thing.

This team would finish no higher than 8th in the division, and I fully expect it will be a last place battle between Detroit and Pittsburgh. Last for the division, and in baseball. It’s a long road ahead for the Pirates.

8. Kansas City Royals
  • 2019 batting WAR: 9.3
  • 2019 pitching WAR: 7.7
  • Total WAR: 17.0
  • Key addition(s): N/A
  • Key departure(s): N/A
This list isn’t really getting any better, is it? The Royals are another awful team that could easily be placed in the 9th or 10th spot, but they have a few more key pieces. They also hired Mike Matheny as their new manager so perhaps that will help in some way.

The lineup has a very nice and young core four of Whit Merrifield, Jorge Soler, Hunter Dozier, and Adalberto Mondesi. If they are able to build their lineup around those players then there is potential there. The pitching isn’t as good, but you could have a worse top three than Brad Keller, Jakob Junis, and Danny Duffy with Ian Kennedy in the bullpen. Not good, but not horrible.

After losing 103 games in 2019, I don’t expect the Royals to be a real threat anytime soon. The difference between them and the Tigers/Pirates is that the Royals have a potential to surprise. If the core of their lineup produces and the pitching is around the top 20 then maybe they can do something.

7. Milwaukee Brewers
  • 2019 batting WAR: 24.2
  • 2019 pitching WAR: 12.9
  • Total WAR: 37.1
  • Key addition(s): Avisail Garcia, Justin Smoak
  • Key departure(s): Yasmani Grandal, Mike Moustakas, Drew Pomeranz, Zach Davies
The Brewers are tough, but I just don’t think they will compete with the top of the division. Last year they barely snuck into a wild card and now they will be without Grandal, Moustakas, and 4 starters (Gonzalez, Anderson, Davies, and Lyles).

Christian Yelich will have to carry the load for this offense even more than he did last season. Behind him, the best hitters are Hiura, Garcia, and Smoak. The rotation will consist of Woodruff, Lindblom, Houser, and five innings of Josh Hader every night.

I might get some heat for ranking a 2019 playoff team this low, but the teams ahead of the Brewers are all going to be solid. They had a nice run, but time to build it back up with Yelich under contract for seven years.

6. Chicago White Sox
  • 2019 batting WAR: 11.0
  • 2019 pitching WAR: 12.3
  • Total WAR: 23.3
  • Key addition(s): Yasmani Grandal, Dallas Keuchel, Encarnacion, Gio Gonzalez
  • Key departure(s): Yolmer Sanchez
The White Sox are interesting. They went out and signed a bunch of guys and suddenly some people are putting them as the favorites for the AL central. I don’t think so. The additions will help, but they are being over hyped and the Sox are still a year away.

The offense will certainly be good with Moncada, Abreu, Grandal, Anderson, Jiminez, and top prospect Luis Robert but a lot has to go right. Both Moncada and Anderson had an insanely high BABIP last season so there should be regression and Robert will have to be an immediate impact. The rotation is where everything could fall apart. Behind Giolito, the Sox are relying on post-prime Keuchel and Gonzalez along with Reynaldo Lopez who is supposed to have a breakout year every season but never does.

The White Sox will likely hang around .500 all season with potential to grab a wild card spot. They won't compete for the division title this season, but they could once again be the Twins main rival in 2021.

Recap:
10: Detroit Tigers
9: Pittsburgh Pirates
8: Kansas City Royals
7: Milwaukee Brewers
6: Chicago White Sox
5-1: Next Wednesday

What did you think of my list so far? Leave a comment and discuss below!

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7 Comments

Milwaukee too low, White Sox too high, and Cincinnati too high.

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Tom Froemming
May 14 2020 07:23 AM

Man, I forgot how many departures the Brew Crew had this offseason. They'd better hope they have some internal pieces coming through the system that can step up.

 

Bums me out the Pirates stink, like almost always. For some reason I've always kinda liked them, but now that Shelton's over there I feel like it's extra incentive to pay attention.

    • Shaitan, Minny505, MN_ExPat and 1 other like this
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Doctor Gast
May 14 2020 09:41 AM

Thanks for this article it gives us something to look forward to. Milwaukee surprises me but I understand your logic. Bucs now w/ new coaching could surprise people even though they traded more key pieces 

I'm with Tom on this one.Crew still has star power, but... I think at the end of the day they just don't have enough horses in the stable to forge their own destiny and will rely on a lot of luck and things to break just right.

 

Can't say I'm bummed about Pittsburgh myself, but With Shelton there, it would be nice to see some "moral" victories for them :).

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Nash Walker
May 14 2020 10:16 AM
Love this, Coop. Even without games, Eloy Jiménez has recorded 17 errors in left field. The Brewers are stingy as hell. I could see them giving the powerhouses (Twins, Tribe, Cards) trouble this summer, but I hear you. I’m interested to see your perspective on the Cubs and Reds. Despite what others say, you’re okay, Cooper.
    • Minny505 likes this
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Cooper Carlson
May 19 2020 08:56 PM

 

Love this, Coop. Even without games, Eloy Jiménez has recorded 17 errors in left field. The Brewers are stingy as hell. I could see them giving the powerhouses (Twins, Tribe, Cards) trouble this summer, but I hear you. I’m interested to see your perspective on the Cubs and Reds. Despite what others say, you’re okay, Cooper.

Just seeing this now. I think Eloy actually recorded another error as I typed this reply!

    • Minny505 likes this
“Behind Giolito, the Sox are relying on post-prime Keuchel and Gonzalez along with Reynaldo Lopez...” Michael Kopech is alive and quite well.