MLB 2017 Season Preview
American League Central
FanPicks examines the American League Central division for the upcoming Major League Baseball season. Get ready for fantasy baseball.
Chicago White Sox
The Sox won’t contend in 2017, but at least there is a plan. Fans are eager for the prospects acquired in the Chris Sale and Adam Eaton trades to arrive in the Majors. Not to mentioned that the expectation of even more trades as management sells the future. The Sox ranked 11th in the American League in runs scored last season. Their struggles will intensify as more veterans should be traded at season end. After years of patching holes, the rebuild is underway.
The only thing missing from the Indians’ quest for success is fan support. For the last two years, the organization has remodeled Progressive Field, removing seats, changing concourses and making it more consumer friendly. On the field, they’ve produced four straight winning seasons. But the Indians, who once had a streak of 455 straight sellouts, have continually finished near the bottom of MLB attendance. Will that change following their inspired run to Game 7 of the World Series last year?
The Tigers lost to the Indians by eight games in the AL Central in 2016. It’s difficult to envision where they expect to make up those eight games, given their lack of impact additions. Perhaps the Tigers saw the White Sox and Royals shift into rebuild mode and decided to go for it one last time with this core. But it still seems more likely that the Tigers, as currently constructed, will take a big step backward than a big one forward. By July, an out-of-contention Tigers team could look vastly different than the one of April.
Kansas City Royals
There’s a looming fire sale if Kansas City falls from contention with changes to the collective bargaining agreement that restrict compensation for players lost in free agency. Don’t expect general manager Dayton Moore to be as aggressive as 2015 at the trade deadline with a depleted farm system. Health and player development will be keys to squeezing out a playoff push from a roster that’s has already demonstrated its championship mettle.
The Royals will be dedicating this season to the memory of beloved teammate Yordano Ventura. The 25-year-old enigmatic fireballer has been killed in a car crash on January 22 in his home country of the Dominican Republic.
Saddled with the majors’ second-most losses over the past six seasons, the Twins are finally joining the game’s analytics revolution while maintaining a strong emphasis on traditional scouting. Their payroll figured to remain right around $100 million as they continued to break in young talent and sought new methods of procuring future weapons. The honeymoon for the new front-office duo (Chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine) figures to last for at least a couple of years while the Twins find their footing once more in a difficult division.