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OC Register: 2019 American League Central team previews


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Note: All rotations and lineups are projections.

CLEVELAND INDIANS

2018 record: 91-71

2018 run differential: Plus-170

2018 AL rank in OPS: 3rd

2018 AL rank in WHIP: 3rd

Manager: Terry Francona

Rotation: Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, Mike Clevinger, Shane Bieber

Bullpen: Dan Otero, Oliver Perez, Adam Plutko, Neil Ramirez, Nick Wittgren, Tyler Olson, Nick Goody, Jon Edwards

Closer: Brad Hand

Lineup: 1B Carlos Santana/Jake Bauers, 2B Jason Kipnis, SS Francisco Lindor, 3B Jose Ramirez, C Roberto Perez, DH Santana/Hanley Ramirez, LF Greg Allen/Bauers, CF Leonys Martin, RF Carlos Gonzalez/Tyler Naquin

Fun Fact: The Indians were two games below .500 when they weren’t playing the AL Central in 2018.

X-Factor: Gonzalez switches leagues and hopes to rediscover his All-Star days.

Prediction: First, but this is a shadow of the 2016 squad.

MINNESOTA TWINS

2018 record: 78-84

2018 run differential: Minus- 17

2018 AL rank in OPS: 9th

2018 AL rank in WHIP: 10th

Manager: Rocco Baldelli

Rotation: Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson, Michael Pineda, Jake Odorizzi, Martin Perez, Adalberto Meija

Bullpen: Blake Parker, Addison Reed, Taylor Rogers, Trevor Hildenberger, Matt Magill, Fernando Romero

Closer: Trevor May

Lineup: 1B C.J. Cron, 2B Jonathan Schoop, SS Jorge Polanco, 3B Miguel Sano/Marwin Gonzalez, LF Eddie Rosario, C Jason Castro/Mitch Garver, DH Nelson Cruz, CF Byron Buxton, RF Max Kepler

Fun Fact: Gibson pitched 38 more innings than in 2017 and his ERA dropped from 5.07 to 3.62.

X-Factor: Cruz has hit at least 37 homers in each of the past five years, and should make the hitters around him better.

Prediction: Second. The pressure is on Baldelli, who succeeded the estimable Paul Molitor. This team should run strongly for a wild card.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX

2018 record: 62-100

2018 run differential: Minus-192

2018 AL rank in OPS: 12th

2018 AL rank in WHIP: 13th

Manager: Rick Renteria

Rotation: Carlos Rodon, Reynaldo Lopez, Ivan Nova, Lucas Giolito, Manny Banuelos, Dylan Covey

Bullpen: Nick Jones, Kelvin Herrera, Jace Fry, Thyago Vieira, Ryan Burr, Ian Hamilton

Closer: Alex Colome

Lineup: 1B Jose Abreu, 2B Yolmer Sanchez, SS Tim Anderson, 3B Yoan Moncada, C Welington Castillo, DH Yonder Alonso, LF Daniel Palka, CF Adam Engel, RF Jon Jay

Fun Fact: Famed prospect Moncada had 217 strikeouts and 231 total bases.

X-Factor: Right-field candidate Eloy Jimenez signed a $44 million deal and he’s still in the minors.

Prediction: Third. This investment should mature by 2021 or so.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS

2018 record: 58-104

2018 run differential: Minus-195

2018 AL rank in OPS: 13th

2018 AL rank in WHIP: 14th

Manager: Ned Yost

Rotation: Danny Duffy, Brad Keller, Jakob Junis, Jorge Lopez, Ian Kennedy

Bullpen: Brad Boxberger, Kevin McCarthy, Tim Hill, Brian Flynn, Hector Bailey, Heath Fillmyer, Jake Diekman, Chris Ellis

Closer: Wily Peralta/Boxberger

Lineup: 1B Ryan O’Hearn, 2B Whit Merrifield, SS Adalberto Mondesi, 3B Hunter Dozier, C Martin Maldonado, DH Jorge Soler, LF Alex Gordon, CF Billy Hamilton, RF Brian Goodwin

Fun Fact: Merrifield led the AL in hits (192) and has led the AL in steals the past two years (34, 45).

X-Factor: Mondesi hit 14 homers in 75 games last year, third on the team.

Prediction: Fourth. They didn’t need All-Star catcher Salvador Perez to get hurt.

DETROIT TIGERS

2018 record: 64-98

2018 run differential: Minus-166

2018 AL rank in OPS: 15th

2018 AL rank in WHIP: 9th

Manager: Ron Gardenhire

Rotation: Jordan Zimmermann, Matt Boyd, Matt Moore, Tyson Ross, Daniel Norris

Bullpen: Joe Jimenez, Daniel Stumpf,  Buck Farmer, Drew VerHagen, Victor Alcantara, Blaine Hardy, Zac Reininger, Sandy Baez

Closer: Shane Greene

Lineup: 1B Niko Goodrum, 2B Josh Harrison, SS Jordy Mercer, 3B Jeimer Candelario, C Grayson Greiner, DH Miguel Cabrera, LF Christin Stewart, CF JaCoby Jones, RF Nick Castellanos

Fun Fact: Greene gave up 12 home runs, most among AL closers.

X-Factor: With Michael Fulmer out for more than a year (Tommy John surgery), Norris has an opening.

Prediction: Fifth. Like too many other teams, they’re trying to sell the future.

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