Monday, March 15, 2010

2010 Year in Preview: AL Central Wrap Up

It's always been hard to predict anything about the AL Central. The last two years, the division champ has been crowned in a 163rd game. This year, three teams look to be in contention, but that's been par for the course the last few years, so trying to predict anything is an exercise of futility...but do you think that's going to stop us?? No.

Top AL Central Prospect: Carlos Santana
In a division that seemingly lacks high-level prospects, Santana stands out and it's probable that we could be seeing him before the end of this season. At 23, Santana has proven that he can hit and for a team that is in need of a catcher (after trading away Victor Martinez last season), Santana makes a great option. In 1,100+ career Minor League ABs, Santana has a tidy .285/.388/.470 triple-slash including a ~ 1:1 K/BB ratio. In addition to that, he appears to have upside defensively as well and to that end Indians Prospect Insider says the following about him:

"Santana has been widely mentioned as just an offensive catcher, but he clearly has the work ethic and untapped talent to become a good defensive backstop.  He showcases excellent arm strength with a lightning bolt for an arm, which is no surprise as he is a former third baseman."

 He's currently ranked #10 on Baseball America's Top 100 prospects. He's been rehabbing the last few months from off-season hand surgery and will likely start the season at AAA Columbus, but given the way he has consistently performed, Santana could be looking at a summer call-up.

Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA Projected Standings:

Chicago White Sox (84-78) 757 RS, 730 RA, .265/.334/.419
Minnesota Twins (84-78) 818 RS, 783 RA, .277/.352/.440
Cleveland Indians (83-79) 788 RS, 763 RA, .264/.345/.426
Detroit Tigers (82-80) 755 RS, 746 RA, .261/.337/.417
Kansas City Royals (78-84) 722 RS, 755 RA, .266/.333/.403

Ok, so you know a division is hard to predict when PECOTA has every team within 6 games of one another and, once again, two tied at the top. I'm gonna go ahead and disagree with their projection that the White Sox will be in the mix for 1st. Yes their pitching will keep them in games, but if you look at the lineup, they are go to struggle to score runs which will waste the efforts of their pitchers. Also, their bullpen is a weakness for them. Watch me say this now and then predict them to finish 2nd, within 5 games of the Twins.

Also, the Cleveland Indians 3rd?? This is their starting rotation (projected), you tell me if you think they finish 3rd: Westbrook, Carmona, Masterson, Laffey, Huff

I know this comes from a highly biased perspective, but I see one of two things happening this year. 1) the Twins run away with it. I mean, new stadium, decent pitching, great lineup and a strong bullpen, provided they can find a suitable replacement for Nathan. 2) The White Sox and Twins end up very close at the end with the other teams far back in the division. If the Sox find some sources of offense, they will definitely be contenders.

Predictions Sure to Go Wrong:

(sic) is going to start us off:
Minnesota Twins (87-75)
Chicago White Sox (86-76)
Detroit Tigers (80-82)
Kansas City Royals (75-87)
Cleveland Indians (73-89)
I'm not crazy about the Twins' pitching staff, but ultimately I think they're the safest pick to win the division. They have a very small margin for error, though.  The White Sox could have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball, but I hate the outfield roulette they're playing with the mediocre, overpaid veterans, and I think Konerko and Ramirez could have even worse years than 2009.  While I like Verlander and Porcello on the Tigers, I'm bearish on them again this year because I don't think the rest of the pitching staff will hold up throughout the year. Finally, I picked the Royals over the Indians because...well, the Royals have to have something to hope for, don't they?

Domedog's Predictions:
Minnesota Twins (88-74)
Chicago White Sox (85-77)
Detroit Tigers (82-80)
Cleveland Indians (74-88)
Kansas City Royals (72-90)

Now my turn, it looks very similar:
Minnesota Twins (90-72) - I like this team. The lineup, 1-8 (Punto sucks) is packed with capable hitters, a good mix of BA/speed guys with BA/power guys. The pitching staff doesn't blow you away, but they keep the team in games and will benefit for a good offense.
Chicago White Sox (87-75) - The pitching staff is far and away the strength of this team, but as I have said before, this team will struggle to score runs, there is almost no power in their lineup and the bullpen could blow a bunch of games for this team again in 2010.
Detroit Tigers (82-82) - Porcello, Verlander, Cabrera. There, I just summarized what the Tigers have. Oh, and Damon...lolwut? Detroit lacks the offensive pieces and the back-of-the-rotation talent to compete in this division.
Cleveland Indians (73-89) - Could be good in a few years...wait...don't we always say that about the Indians?
Kansas City Royals (70-92) - All I have to say is that these sites (here and here) are heroic. To have a regular blog about the Royals takes true passion and is the embodiment of what it means to be a die-hard fan.


  1. To be fair to PECOTA, all you can really say is that they are predicting is Royals last. You can't really say they are predicting White Sox 1st or Indians 3rd. It's way too close for that.

    I like CHONE's for AL Central -

    By depth chart-
    Minnesota Twins 85 77
    Cleveland Indians 81 81
    Chicago White Sox 79 83
    Kansas City Royals 76 86
    Detroit Tigers 76 86

    By starting lineup-
    Minnesota Twins 86 76
    Cleveland Indians 82 80
    Chicago White Sox 81 81
    Detroit Tigers 74 88
    Kansas City Royals 73 89

    Not really sure what to make of the Detroit hate though.

  2. No one asked you to be fair to PECOTA. Also, it's March 15. PECOTA is responsible for itself now. If it can't make predictions two weeks out from the season, then it should disband itself.

  3. I'm just saying, if a poll has two cool dudes polling at 50% and 49% with a margin of error of ±5, you aren't going to say the poll is predicting the former cool dude to win.

    That's just not how these types of numbers should be read.

  4. If a poll in 2008 showed Obama at 40%, McCain at 35% and a Green Party candidate at 25%, we'd rightly wonder what was wrong with the poll. This is another manifestation of how out of whack PECOTA is in 2010.

    That said, I see tons of problems in Detroit in 2010. Everyone but Verlander and Miguel Cabrera gives me pause. And CHONE hates Porcello, IIRC.

  5. Forget about the Tigers hate, what about the Indians love with CHONE? I can't see Cleveland coming anywhere close to contending - they certainly didn't make 14 wins of improvements to a 67 win team last year outside of a Santana call-up.