Detroit Tigers poised to win AL Central, again

Detroit Tigers poised to win AL Central, again
Detroit Tigers first baseman warms up before an at-bat during an exhibition game against the Miami Marlins on March 25. (Carlos Osorio / Associated Press)


1. Detroit Tigers

2014: 90-72, first place. Last year in playoffs: 2014.

Justin Verlander's move to the disabled list because of a triceps strain at the end of spring training was bad news for the Tigers, who need the right-hander to return to form after three seasons in which his innings have declined and his earned-run average has risen. An even bigger question mark is the bullpen, which gave up the third-most runs in the AL last year.

CF A. Gose

2B I. Kinsler

1B M. Cabrera

DH V. Martinez


RF J.D. Martinez

LF Y. Cespedes

C. A. Avila

3B N. Castellanos

SS J. Iglesias


LH D. Price

RH J. Verlander*

RH A. Sanchez

RH A. Simon

RH S. Greene


RH J. Nathan

2. Kansas City Royals

2014: 89-73, second place. Last year in playoffs: 2014.

Smart moves in the front office helped Kansas City keep the core of its World Series team together while adding Edinson Volquez (13-7, 3.04 ERA with Pittsburgh) to the rotation. But the overachieving Royals, who played 47 one-run games last year, will once again have little room for error.

SS A. Escobar

LF A. Gordon

CF L. Cain

1B E. Hosmer

DH K. Morales

RF A. Rios

C S. Perez

3B M. Moustakas

2B O. Infante


Y. Ventura

D. Duffy

E. Volquez

J. Vargas

J. Guthrie


G. Holland

3. Cleveland Indians

2014: 85-77, third place. Last year in playoffs: 2013.

The addition of Brandon Moss (25 HR, 81 RBIs with Oakland) will help an offense that relied too heavily on Michael Brantley. Cleveland will also need a bounce-back year from Jason Kipnis (.240, 100 strikeouts). A strength: The bullpen led the majors with 35 wins last year.

CF M. Bourn

2B M. Kipnis

LF M. Brantley

1B C. Santana

DH B. Moss

C Y. Gomes

3B L. Chisenhall

RF D. Murphy

SS J. Ramirez


RH C. Kluber

RH C. Carrasco

RH T. Bauer

LH T.J. House

RH Z. McAllister


RH C. Allen

4. Chicago White Sox

2014: 73-89, fourth place. Last year in playoffs: 2008.

Chris Sale has never made more than 30 starts in a season — and because he's beginning this one on the DL, that streak is not likely to end this year. Jose Quintana (3.32 ERA) and Jeff Samardzija (2.99) give the rotation depth. Adam LaRoche (average of 26 HRs, 85 RBIs the last three years) anchors the batting order.

CF A. Eaton

LF M. Cabrera

1B J. Abreu

DH A. LaRoche

RF A. Garcia

SS A. Ramirez

3B C. Gillaspie

C T. Flowers

2B M. Johnson/C. Sanchez

LH C. Sale*

RH J. Samardzija

LH J. Quintana

LH J. Danks

RH H. Noesi


RH D. Robertson

5. Minnesota Twins

2014: 70-92, fifth place. Last year in playoffs: 2010.

Joe Mauer batted a career-low .277 last year with four homers while 39-year-old Torii Hunter's OPS of .765 with Detroit matched his lowest since 2003. And that's the middle of Minnesota's lineup. So the Twins' improved pitching staff will have to do a lot better than last year's league-high 4.57 ERA if Minnesota is to climb out of the cellar.

SS D. Santana

2B B. Dozier

1B J. Mauer

RF T. Hunter

DH K. Vargas

3B T. Plouffe

LF O. Arcia

C K. Suzuki

CF J. Schafer


RH P. Hughes

RHP E. Santana

RHP R. Nolasco

RHP K. Gibson

LHP T. Milone


LH G. Perkins