Odds to win 2017 AL Central Division

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Updated: February 28, 2017

Of all the divisions in Major League Baseball this year, it’s hard to find one more predictable than the AL Central. The Indians are the defending AL Central and American League champions and they only got better this offseason. They won the division by a hearty measure last year and look to do the same again this year. For this reason and many more, they are a big =400 favorite to repeat as champions.

AL Central – Odds to Win

Cleveland Indians -400
Detroit Tigers +550
Kansas City Royals +675
Chicago White Sox +2500
Minnesota Twins +2800

 
The only real challengers to them, at least according to these odds, are the Detroit Tigers and the Kansas City Royals. They’ve each had interesting offseasons in their own way and haven’t really done anything to make you think that they will be ready to make a big leap in 2017.

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The Tigers are perhaps the most interesting though as they could have better pitching in 2017. Rookie of the Year Michael Fulmer feels like he is for real, Justin Verlander is still there and Daniel Norris feels poised for a breakout. Throw in a healthier Jordan Zimmerman and Matt Boyd and the rotation could be better than last year.

The offense took a step back in certain places, but they still have J.D. Martinez, Ian Kinsler, Nick Castellanos, Victor Martinez and some guy named Miguel Cabrera. JD missed a lot of last season and a healthier year from him could be big. The bullpen had a solid 2016 and a solid 2017 is no guarantee, but it feels safe to say that it might be solid again. A breakout from Daniel Norris, a healthy Zimmerman, a good bullpen and a few lucky breaks and this team could be right in it come September.

People keep saying that the Royals are in the last year of their “window” of contention as so much of their roster is going to be free agents after this season. Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar and Jason Vargas are all in their last year of their contracts and it feels like this is the last chance for this squad. They’ll need a big comeback year from Moustakas and Alex Gordon, as well as another above average season from Salvador Perez to even think about it. The addition of Jorge Soler will be interesting, but it will be Brandon Moss playing DH that could be the biggest upgrade for them in 2017.

The real question with this team is the pitching. After riding an extremely good bullpen to two World Series appearances and one win, the bullpen looks much different now. Davis and Holland are gone and now Kelvin Herrera is the hammer. They’ll need something more from Joakim Soria and Brian Flynn, as well as possible contributions from rookies Josh Staumont and Matt Strahm. The rotation will look very different after losing by Edinson Volquez and Yordano Ventura (RIP). Jason Hammel and Nate Karns will look to replace them behind ace Danny Duffy, Vargas and Ian Kennedy. That rotation scares exactly nobody and the only way to see this team contending is with more of that Royals magic from two years ago that just doesn’t make any sense.

The Chicago White Sox will be fun to watch, but probably not that good. Carlos Rodon and Jose Quintana should be great starters, but should also be on the trading block by midseason. Jose Abreu and Todd Frazier will provide the homerun power, but will also be on the trading block by midseason. The fun part of this team will be the youth. Yoan Moncada could see time this year which is really exciting to think about. Lucas Giolito, Carson Fulmer, Michael Kopech and Reynaldo Lopez will all get a chance to pitch. There are tons of spots for young players in this lineup and that should be exciting, possibly better than expected, but not quite good enough for the playoffs.

Another fun team will be the Minnesota Twins led by slugger Miguel Sano and uber prospect Byron Buxton. It wasn’t that long ago that Buxton was compared to Mike Trout and while that comparison is probably ridiculous, it speaks to the kind of talent that Buxton has. He showed a bit of it in the second half of last season and fingers are crossed that they will be that way again. This offense is full of fun players like that with Max Kepler, Brian Dozier, Nick Gordon and Eddie Rosario as well. The problem with this team will be the pitching. Ervin Santana has been solid for them and Jose Berrios has a lot of that, but after that it’s not looking good. They’ll win a few slugfests, but this team needs pitching.

This division belongs to the Indians and it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which they don’t win it. Edwin Encarnacion is the big addition, but he’ll join Yan Gomes and Michael Brantley in players who weren’t in the lineup during the World Series that should be for much of this year. Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis and Francisco Lindor are the returning stars and this could be one of the highest scoring teams in the AL and that’s before you get into their pitching. Corey Kluber is the man, Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco should be back and healthy, and the Andrew MillerCody Allen dynamic duo at the bullpen is back. This team will be great. Cleveland rocks!

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