Saturday, January 14, 2006

Central Predictions

A few random predictions as to how things will go down in the AL Central this season. Some of these are based on statistical analysis and off-season moves, others are based simply on gut feelings. In my opinion, this division is going to be a lot better this year, which is potentially bad news for the Twins. Feel free to comment with disagreements or additions to the list.

The White Sox will finish in third place.
... But will still have a pretty good record. I just think the Indians and Twins are going to be much improved, because both under-performed so much last year. The Indians might have lost some pitching, but their offense should be monstrous presuming Victor Martinez and Travis Hafner don't slump horribly over the first half of the season again. The Twins offensive additions along with the best pitching staff in the league should be enough to lock down at least second place. I can't imagine the White Sox' players will all repeat their performances of last season, and Jim Thome is a big question mark.

The Tigers will be respectable.
They might even contend. If Carlos Guillen and Mags Ordoñez stay healthy, they have a pretty good offense. Jeremy Bonderman provides them with a legitimate ace, and the addition of Kenny Rogers provides a solid veteran presence on a very young staff.

Javier Vazquez will struggle in Chicago.
The White Sox will live to regret the trade that brought Vazquez to the Windy City. Vazquez has had one stint in the AL, a season he spent with the Yankees, and it wasn't pretty. He is a fly-ball pitcher who allows a lot of home runs and he'll be pitching in a hitter's park in a division that features some pretty good power hitters. Could spell trouble.

Danny Graves will not last two months in the Indians' bullpen.
Graves had become unspeakably bad by the end of his stay in Cincinatti, posting a 7.36 ERA and a K:BB ratio of 8:12 as the team's closer before being cut last year. He claims that Cleveland will be a fresh start for him, but at 32 and after piecing together mostly bad career numbers (he's had one season that I would consider good, and that was 2000; in 2004 he had 41 saves but still posted a 3.95 ERA, very high for a closer), it's hard to see much changing. I think the Indians, who have a very good bullpen, will quickly tire of him.

The Royals' pitching staff will have the worst ERA in the American League.
Their "ace" is a 22 year-old whose ERA last year was nearly 6. Their off-season additions include Scott Elarton, Elmer Dessens, and Joe Mays. Things just seem hopeless for the poor Royals.

Paul Byrd will lead the Indians in wins.
He's not that great of a pitcher, but he always seems to do well when he has a good offense behind him. I think he'll surprise some people this year, although his ERA will still be in the high 3's.

5 comments:

p2 said...

So Nick...who wins the cental?

Nick N. said...

We'll be doing our full predictions when spring training is a little closer. Right now I'd have to say the Indians. Jason Johnson sucks, but their rotation is pretty solid outside of him, and I don't think people realize just how dangerous their offense is. They have a bunch of young guys who are just hitting their prime and getting better every year. The Twins have a very good chance if they can have rebound years offensively from a few guys.

p2 said...

I am going to predict the Twins will win the Central. Without major injury to the pitching staff it will be as good (if not better) than last year. Plus, the hitting should be improved for several reasons. First, three positive additions in Castillo, Batista, & White. All three guys should improve the team's production (per position) compared to a year ago. Second, the Twins established players should have improved years. Morneau & Mauer should continue to get better with a year of experience. Stewart & Hunter will also have better offesive seasons with a little more balance in the lineup. Plus, the Twins will have three rookies (Liriano, Baker, and Kubel) that could explode onto the scene. I'm already excited for the begining of the season.

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