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2020 MLB Season Preview: A.L. Central

As we prepare for our delayed 2020 MLB Opening Day, we take a look at each division, spotlighting each team and their key offseason moves. We’ll also discuss the outlook for all 30 clubs heading into the season, including team MVP, Cy Young and Impact Rookie to watch.

Today, we continue on with the American League Central Division.

Let's first peek at last season's final standings in the division:

2019 Regular Season

W-L Pct. GB

Minnesota 101-61 .623 --

Cleveland 93-69 .574 8.0

Chicago Sox 72-89 .447 28.5

Kansas City 59-103 .364 42.0

Detroit 47-114 .292 53.5

MInnesota Twins

Who’s In?

3B Josh Donaldson, SP Homer Bailey, SP Rich Hill, SP Kenta Maeda,

RP Tyler Clippard 

Who’s Out?

SP Kyle Gibson, C Jason Castro, 1B CJ Cron, 2B Jonathan Schoop

2020 Outlook:

The Twins tasted blood in 2019. In 2020, they’re hungry and going for the kill! This offense is stacked: one player with 40+ home runs, four others with 30+ and three more with 20+. They lost two in the 20+ group (Cron, Schoop), but get a healthy Byron Buxton back as well as the addition of 3B Josh Donaldson. All they did to support that offense was get some pitching help behind ace phenom Jose Berrios by adding Maeda and Hill to the rotation, and Clippard in the pen. I can see them in play for a legitimate closer at the deadline, and a top of the rotation level pitcher; maybe Noah Syndergaard becomes available?

2020 Team MVP: LF Eddie Rosario

2020 Team Cy Young: SP Jose Berrios

2020 Rookie Watch: LHP Lewis Thorpe


Cleveland Indians

Who’s In?

CF Delino DeShields, 2B Cesar Hernandez

Who’s Out?

SP Corey Kluber, SP Danny Salazar, RF Yasiel Puig, RP Tyler Clippard,

SP Trevor Bauer, 2B Jason Kipnis

2020 Outlook:

There are times one could look at this roster and think that this team can win 35 games. Then there are times when it could be perceived they’ll be lucky to win 25. The rotation is somewhat stable, the lineup is serviceable, but the fact they spent all offseason actively discussing trades for Francisco Lindor (the best player in the clubhouse) could be a major hit to their chemistry. They lost key contributors, but still have some big names on the roster. This team could go either way in 2020, leaning towards a winning season. A strong gust of wind tomorrow and they could head the other way. After three straight division titles from 2016-2018 and a second place finish in 2019, I fear their window is closing.

2020 Team MVP: 3B Jose Ramirez

2020 Team Cy Young: SP Mike Clevinger

2020 Rookie Watch: SP Aaron Civale


Chicago White Sox

Who’s In?

DH Edwin Encarnacion, C Yasmani Grandal, RF Nomar Mazara,

SP Dallas Keuchel, RP Steve Cishek, SP Gio Gonzalez

Who’s Out?

2B Yolmer Sanchez, C Wellington Castillo, SP Ivan Nova

2020 Outlook:

There may not be a team that had a better offseason (based on adding to their existing in-house talent) than the White Sox. This lineup is exciting top to bottom. Infused with ultra-talented youth (Drew Anderson, Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert), the White Sox were able to add solid vets (Grandal, Encarnacion, Mazara) to fill out the lineup. Chicago has a stacked, well balanced offensive attack, and that's without mentioning leader Jose Abreu. Adding Keuchel and Gonzalez to a young rotation and good bullpen will help the staff, but this team should be carried by its offense. They’re probably a year or two away from a Central Division title, but could overtake the Indians for runner-up with a potential Wild Card hunt in 2020. And it may not be as surprising as it may seem.

2020 Team MVP: LF Eloy Jimenez

2020 Cy Young: SP Lucas Giolito

2020 Rookie Watch: OF Luis Robert


Kansas City Royals

Who’s In?

3B Maikel Franco, OF Franchy Cordero

Who’s Out?

SP Homer Bailey, OF Jorge Bonifacio

2020 Outlook:

The Royals have some young talent to be excited about, and during a rebuild process, that’s a good thing. There’s not much hope for a playoff run in 2020 with this team, but it is exciting to see what the young nucleus shows us this year and what these vets can get in return on the trade market. Alex Gordon is a career Royal and a fan favorite, but they’d be smart to let him go chase a ring and get future value ahead of the deadline. Pitchers Ian Kennedy, Danny Duffy and Greg Holland could all be targeted by competitors at the deadline as well. Sorry Royals fans, this is what you have to look forward to this season. If general manager Dayton Moore does his job well, you’ll go from dwelling near the cellar to kicking down the penthouse doors again in no time.

2020 Team MVP: 2B Whit Merrifield 

2020 Cy Young: SP Brad Keller

2020 Rookie Watch: SP Brady Singer


Detroit Tigers

Who’s In?

OF Cameron Maybin, SP Ivan Nova, 1B CJ Cron, 2B Jonathan Schoop,

C Austin Romine

Who’s Out?

RP Daniel Stumpf, RP Blaine Hardy, RP Victor Alcantara

2020 Outlook:

Let the kids play! The Tigers have drafted well recently and have stockpiled talent that will be ready for "The Show" in 2020 and 2021. If they build on that and ship out any valuable veterans, it could only be a step in the right direction. There’s a good manager in Ron Gardenhire in place, and letting him build that core would be smart considering his track record. The Albert Pujols-to-the-Angels contract was bad, but the Tigers are on the hook with Miguel Cabrera for at least four more years, at $30 million in 2020 and 2021, then climbing to $32 million in 2022 and 2023. Miggy hit 12 home runs in 130+ games in 2019 and is not the great player he once was. He’ll be 41 when he’s up for a Mutual Option extension following the 2023 season. He will always be a Tiger, but financially, that hurts.

2020 Team MVP: 2B Jonathan Schoop

2020 Cy Young: SP Matt Boyd

2020 Rookie Watch: SP Casey Mize


Let's take a look at our predictions for the 2020 season:

2020 Regular Season Predictions


Minnesota 38-22 --

Cleveland 32-28 6.0

ChicagoSox 30-30 8.0

Kansas City 21-39 17.0

Detroit 19-41 19.0

Do you agree with the above? Let's hear your thoughts in the comment section!


Brandon Rice

CIH Contributor

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