In 2013, the Central should look very similar to how it did in 2012: the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox will compete for the division crown, the Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals will try to convince us that they’ve improved and the Minnesota Twins will be the cellar-dwellers. Here’s a look at the MLB futures for the Central.
Chicago White Sox
MLB Odds To Win AL Central: +630
The White Sox have to put last year’s betting lines collapse behind them as they were in the driver’s seat in the Central for most of the season, and they have the talent to make another run in 2013. Chris Sale has to prove he can be an ace, but Jake Peavy is right behind him in the rotation. The bullpen is also very young and even though they did well last year, their inexperience came out during the stretch run. The White Sox could also have a destructive middle section of the lineup if Alex Rios plays as he did last season.
MLB Odds To Win AL Central: +1100
The Indians picked up Nick Swisher to solidify their lineup, but that won’t matter unless their starting pitchers improve, particularly at the top. Ubaldo Jimenez and Justin Masterson have a ton of potential, but they’re past the point of potential at this stage and the Indians need them to act like top-of-the-rotation hurlers. Swisher was brought in to replace Shin-Soo Choo, but he’ll need help.
MLB Odds To Win AL Central: -315
The Tigers should have no problems driving in runs with a lineup powered by MVP Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and a healthy Victor Martinez. The rotation is also top notch, led by Justin Verlander, arguably the best pitcher in baseball right now. The question marks come from the bullpen as the inconsistent Jose Valverde is gone now, and Bruce Rondon will be under the spotlight, especially as he has never pitched in the majors before.
Kansas City Royals
MLB Odds To Win AL Central: +685
The Royals may have made the best move in the division by picking up James Shields from Tampa Bay, and Shields gives them an innings-eating ace that will always give them a chance to win. It isn’t a move that will catapult the Royals to the top of the Central, but they showed marked improvement in 2012, especially in the first half of the season and now they have to sustain it for an entire campaign. Billy Butler is well on his way to being one of the best hitters in all of baseball, but the rest of the lineup has to step up.
MLB Odds To Win AL Central: +2200
The Twins are bringing up the rear and there is no certainty that 2013 won’t be different from last season. Their rotation was awful and the starters had the worst ERA in the American League, and while Minnesota brought in Vince Worley, Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey, none of them would be classified as an ace. The lineup should be in decent shape with Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham, but unless the rotation improves a lot, the Twins are probably looking at another last-place finish in the AL Central.