Minnesota Twins - The Twins improved their hitting and starting pitching drastically in 2014. Joe Mauer improved to 320/420/530 while playing 150+ games, but the real difference came in the supporting cast. Josh Willingham smashed 30 HRs and slugged 530 in his contract year. Chris Parmelee, Oswaldo Arcia, and Chris Colabello combined for more than 140 XBHs. Brian Dozier and Josmil Pinto also turned in better than expected seasons. However, the starters might have been an even bigger surprise. Despite the fact only one Twins starter was named to the All-Star team, all five Twins starters (Nolasco, Hughes, Pelfrey, Correia, and Deduno) posted an ERA under 4.00 and made 30+ starts. Michael Tonkin, Kyle Gibson, and Caleb Thielbar set up All-Star Closer Glen Perkins forming a strong bullpen that was bolstered by Trevor May later in the year.
Detroit Tigers - the defending division champs began the 2013/2014 offseason by trading Doug Fister for a decent pitching prospect and spare parts. They shored up the bullpen by signing Joe Nathan. However, injuries on offense to Miguel Cabrera and Torii Hunter were huge, along with Ian Kinsler struggling with Comerica Park. A slight regression by starters Scherzer and Sanchez along with a poor showing by Smyly torpedo'd the Tigers hopes in 2014. The Tigers paced the division in April and May but finished with only 86 wins.
Cleveland Indians - the Indians lost two key starters in 2014 but it was their poor hitting that was their undoing in 2014. For the second year in a row no Indians regular posted an OPS over 840 and Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn actually regressed on their lackluster 2013. Although the Indians starters had an average ERA of 3.70 the lack of offense and some up/down relief work left them with only 78 wins in 2014.
Kansas City Royals - the Royals were the other surprise team in the AL Central in 2014, winning 87 games. Alex Gordon, Mike Moustakas, Salvador Perez, Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer all turned in fine seasons. James Shields and Jason Vargas were outstanding starters, as was Yordano Ventura but thin starting pitching down the stretch wasted the division's best overall bullpen.
Chicago White Sox - the White Sox were abysmal in 2014, notching just 58 victories. Even though Jose Abreu turned in a fine season, injuries to Chris Sale and a poor supporting cast on both offense and the pitching staff contributed to the White Sox leading the AL in losses in 2014.
If it's going to happen (and nobody is expecting it), that's how I see it going down. All this said, I expect the division to go DET, KC, MIN, CLE, and CHW. I actually feel pretty good about our starting pitching and I think there are enough decent arms for a good bullpen - which means we will have a chance regardless of how we hit. However, it's a much bigger stretch to project big things from the likes of Willingham, Parmelee/Colabello, Arcia and Plouffe. However, all those guys have a lot to play for (personally), so never underestimate the power of motivation. If we are going to score runs this year, at least 3 of these 4 have to post major production IMO.
Edited by alskntwnsfn, 12 March 2014 - 08:31 PM.
Edited out typos. Sue me.