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Ted Schwerzler



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We are less than two weeks away from the 2022 Major League Baseball regular season. The free agent frenzy was every bit the excitement we had hoped for following the lockout and teams are largely complete at this point. The American League Central Division had just one Postseason participant, but the hope would be for two with the field expanding to 12 teams.

The Chicago White Sox return as the division winners and will look to carry that crown for a second season. While there’s no juggernaut here, it should be expected that there’s no cellar dweller either.

Here’s how I see the division shaking out with PECOTA projections in parentheses.

Chicago White Sox 89-73 (91-71)

Chicago really didn’t do a whole lot this winter, but they also really didn’t need to. Having Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez for a full season will represent the greatest benefit they could gain from the offseason. Kendall Graveman makes an already good bullpen better, and Joe Kelly only enhances that. They should still have a very strong lineup, and the hope would be continued dominance from the rotation. There’s no doubt that they are the favorites here.

Minnesota Twins 85-77 (86-76)

If there’s a team that could go up or down more than almost any other in baseball it could be Minnesota. Byron Buxton is a superstar, and now he has a partner in Carlos Correa. How much resurgence could Gary Sanchez or Gio Ursehla find in their new home? Sonny Gray is a dependable arm, but from there it’s questionable veterans and untested rookies. If things go bad, it will likely be because the arms simply weren’t enough. This could be a very good team, a mediocre team, or a relatively bad team virtually all tied to what happens on the mound.

Detroit Tigers 77-85 (67-95)

Javier Baez’s deal with Detroit surprised many because of the assumed tie between Carlos Correa and A.J. Hinch. Baez has plenty of flaws but some of them are a bit overstated. He gives a winning presence to a team on the cusp. Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson should be in the lineup soon, and Akil Baddoo turned out to be a bad man last year. I don’t know how well they’ll pitch, but acquiring Eduardo Rodriguez was a smart move.

Kansas City Royals 75-87 (70-92)

Prospects are the name of the game for the Royals. Bobby Witt Jr. looks like a superstar as does both M.J. Melendez and Nick Pratto. Salvador Perez put up insane numbers a season ago and will look to replicate that performance. Pitching is questionable here too, and I’m not sure Zack Greinke has much left in the tank. The bullpen is uninspiring, and there’s plenty of lineup holes. They’re getting better, but not there yet.

Cleveland Guardians 73-89 (77-85)

You don’t have to look much further than the newly named Guardians to find the Central’s most rudderless team. The farm system isn’t elite, but the Major League roster is also barren. Jose Ramirez is amazing, and a healthy Shane Bieber is lights out, but beyond that there’s very little to like here. A lot of post-hype prospects and guys that have ceilings they never got close to touching reside on this roster. Alongside their lack of spending this offseason, deciding not to blow it up was a weird path forward.

For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz



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"If there’s a team that could go up or down more than almost any other in baseball it could be Minnesota."

Agree wholeheartedly with this. The Twins could be pretty good or pretty bad.

I'm feeling that the other teams in the AL Central will be better than they have been in the past. Chicago will be healthier and have a strong bullpen. Detroit picked up some solid experience to go with their youth and their young pitchers are getting ready to win. Kansas City has youth and a few vets. Greinke in 2022 profiles as better than any Twin starting pitcher and his choice and enthusiasm to return to KC brings excitement and experience to the team. Finally, the Guardians have a top 10 farm system of players who have plenty of minor league experience and will now get their chance. The Guardians with their pitching and Terry Francona could really surprise a bunch of people. It is a sorry situation where the owner won't spend just $20-30 million more to buttress this young team. The Twins need to click in order to win enough to make the playoffs and this AL Central has zero resemblance to those weak teams from 2019-2021. I believe the division will be much better.

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Lets face it. The White Sox are the team to beat and should win the division by 6 or more games. Cleveland could be in a battle with the Twins for a wild card due to the expansion of the number of teams. Detroit has some good young arms and could sneak into a battle as well. And then there is Kansas City who will probably struggle to get out of the cellar. I can see the Twins going 81-81 and maybe even win as many as 84 games if they don't have any major injuries to key players. Depth could be a problem for us.

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Good article.

The Twins are something of an enigma, but the Twins have some elite players at their positions up the middle - Correa, Buxton and Polanco. They also have some emerging bats (Kirilloff, Larnach, Miranda), and proven hitters like Arraez and Urshela. Wildcard bats as well in Sano and Sanchez.

The Twins will score runs and their defense should be solid. 

If the pitching can just be average overall the Twins could exceed the 85 win projection and make the Chisox uncomfortable.

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Strat-o-matic did a 2022 simulation and somehow the Twins made it to the World Series to face the Brewers, losing to the beer makers 4 games to 3. Now this is March and those must have been some Twins-friendly dice, and of course beating the Yankees in the playoffs ... yeah .... no. I can only imagine that Buxton avoided the injured list and he and Correa powered the look-alikes to a lot of runs scored. However they did it . . . i like it!

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Ace...NEVER underestimate the POWER of STRATO !!!   :)   I for one think the Tigers are going to be sneaky.  Torkelson and Greene will probably be solid and contribute a lot.  I agree with Karbo:  Signing Ed-Rod was very good.  I wanted the Twins to get him.  Imagine what OUR outlook would be if we had Gray and Ed-Rod fronting our staff with the lineup we project.  I also agree with the prognostication that Cleveland will slip.  Bieber has to prove to me that he's healthy and will be the old Bieber.  Jose Ramirez is GREAT, but who else does that lineup have??  I could see Ramirez traded at the deadline or even before and when that happens the Guardians will be just as pop-gun as the 60's White Sox lineups were.  The Royals are a lot like the Tigers without as much young pitching.  The key for the Twins is how good (or bad) their young pitchers are.  From Ryan & Ober to Winder, Balazovic, Duran and whoever else gets a chance, it will be interesting to see who shines and who struggles.  

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Nobody is going to win 90 games this year according to the née sayers. My feelings are: Twins 90-62, Sox 89-63, Detroit 83-81, KC 80-82, Guardians 78-84. It will be a tight race for 1-2 places, 3-4 places and not far behind 5th place. During the off season the Twins got better and younger, Sox stayed pat and got older and peaked in 2021  and slight decline, Tigers got older limited improvement, KC got older & modest improvement, Guardians are status quo and getting older. 
The Twins will make in season roster adjustments by call ups from prospects and the capability to make a worthwhile trade or trades . 

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The White Sox are still dealing. Kimbrel for Pollock.  And as Twins fans everyone wants to downgrade the Sox.  Don't do it.  They have a lineup that can match ours, pitching in both the rotation and pen that surpasses ours and I think they are driven to win it this year.  So the numbers are too low and they will win 95. 

The next four are more of a toss up, but I like Detroit.  Their pitching has been maturing and their rookies are stepping in at the right time.  I put them second. 

Sentiment makes me put the Twins third and KC seems like an obvious fifth.  The Guardians are really a puzzle.  The way they run their team makes me wonder if they ever really want to win.  (I know we got out FO from them).  No team in baseball has screwed up their OF like the Guardians and yet they have Terry Francona and the fact that we are not just ignoring them is because of his leadership. Put them down for fourth. 

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