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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to defend their three straight American League Central titles.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Out of Left Field 2013 predictions — AL Central


1. Tigers
— Detroit has the best rotation in the division, and the best lineup. Arguably the best pitcher in baseball (Justin Verlander). Arguably the best hitter on the planet (Miguel Cabrera, pictured above). Aside from the question mark at closer, the Tigers don’t have very many glaring holes, meaning that how they deal with injuries and expectations will again be the limiting factor for this team.

2. Royals — Yes, yes. I know I picked the Royals for second last year, and it was truthfully not yet “Their Time,” but this year GM Dayton Moore has finally put a starting rotation together — turning over four-fifths of last year’s — with the solid bullpen and lineup filled with young stars. The deal with Tampa Bay, swapping stud prospect Wil Myers and others for starters James Shields and Wade Davis, is the kind that can either get a GM fired — or a contract extension.

3. Indians — An offseason of wheeling and dealing left the Tribe with a new manager and 17 center fielders — give or take. The remodeled outfield will probably have late FA signing Michael Bourn in center, Michael Brantley in left and trade acquisition Drew Stubbs in right, leaving FA adds Nick Swisher and Mark Reynolds in a first-base platoon. All the transactions won’t matter a whit if the starting rotation can’t be better for manager Terry Francona than it has been for the fired Manny Acta.

4. White Sox — Everybody underestimated the ChiSox a year ago, given what they’d lost, and they went out and held first place for more than 100 days, until finally folding in the final weeks, blowing a three-game lead with 16 to play. If Chicago gets the same kind of seasons it got from guys like Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko, Alex Rios, Chris Sale and Jake Peavy, the White Sox could prove everyone wrong again. Then again, their offseason additions did not offset their losses for the second straight year, leaving you to wonder how they would ... again.

5. Twins — By all appearances, the Twins traded away as many CFs as the Indians added — actually, only two — attempting to use trade chips to rebuild the organization’s lackluster pitching. Outside of the core of Joe Mauer, Josh Willingham and Justin Morneau, there’s not too much to excite anyone into thinking the Twins might not eclipse the 96 and 99 losses in their last two seasons.

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