Gigantic Sox and Dawgs 2015 MLB Preview – Day 4 – AL Central

Welcome to the Gigantic Sox and Dawgs 2015 MLB preview. Over the next few days you will get a team by team look at its key players, new faces, their potential MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year candidates, their possible starting lineup and rotation as well as a quick summary.

SOX & Dawgs 2015 MLB Preview - AL CentralWe will also select a MVP candidate and Cy Young candidate for each team no matter what their predicted team outcome is.

And once again this year is some home stadium information along with dates the teams will play against the Boston Red Sox. The red shaded games are at Fenway; the blue shaded games are road games.

I hope you enjoy this look at the upcoming season.

Yesterday we looked at the NL Central, Sunday was the NL West, Monday was the AL West and today it’s the AL Central.

American League Central

I have the AL Central shaking out the same way it actually finished in 2014 with it mostly being a two team race at the end between Kansas City and Detroit with Cleveland making a push and Chicago improving but still falling short of .500. Minnesota is slated to pick up the rear again despite having one of top ROY candidates in Byron Buxton.

  1. Detroit – Manager Brad Ausmus (2nd year)

The Tigers won the division for the fourth year in a row last season and they are my 2015 pick just barely edging out the Royals for the second year in a row. They were active in the offseason bringing in Yoenis Cespedes to replace Torii Hunter, and Alfredo Simon and Shane Greene to replace Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello. They should also get SS Jose Iglesias back after missing all of 2014 with shin splints. The everyday lineup is good but the back end of the rotation and the bullpen are question marks.

1B Miguel Cabrera and DH Victor Martinez may miss some time at the beginning of the season. RP Bruce Rondon may miss half the season.

Projected Record: 87-75

Home Field: Comerica Park; Playing Surface: natural grass Opened: 2000; Capacity: 41,255

2014 Attendance: 2,917,209 (4th in A.L.)

Key Players: 1B Miguel Cabrera; LF Yoenis Cespedes; SP David Price; DH Victor Martinez; 2B Ian Kinsler

MVP Candidate: 1B Miguel Cabrera

Cy Young Candidate: SP David Price

ROY Candidate: RF Steven Moya

Key Additions: CF Anthony Gose; LF Yoenis Cespedes; SP Alfredo Simon; SP Shane Greene; RP Alex Wilson; RP Tom Gorzelanny

Possible lineup:

  1. Kinsler 2B
  2. Gose CF
  3. Cabrera 1B
  4. Martinez DH
  5. Cespedes LF
  6. D. Martinez RF
  7. Avila C
  8. Castellanos 3B
  9. Iglesias SS

Adjusted lineup:

  1. Kinsler 2B
  2. Gose CF
  3. D. Martinez RF
  4. Cespedes LF
  5. Moya DH
  6. Avila C
  7. Castellanos 3B
  8. Romine 1B
  9. Iglesias SS

Possible rotation:

  1. Price
  2. Verlander
  3. Sanchez
  4. Simon
  5. Greene

Games against Red Sox in 2015: July 24-26; August 7-9

  1. Kansas City – Manager Ned Yost (6th year/12th overall)

Let this sink in, 2014 American League Champion Kansas City Royals. They had a really nice season to get to the wild card game and then a magical playoff run winning the wild card game and sweeping the ALDS and ALCS and then took the San Francisco Giants to a deciding seventh game in the World Series. It took 29 years to get back to the playoffs but it was worth it for Royals fans. The biggest loss they suffered in the offseason was SP James Shields signing with San Diego but they had prepared to let him go. Other than that a few pieces were changed Kendrys Morales replaces Billy Butler at DH and Alex Rios takes over for Nori Aoki in RF.

RP Kris Medlen and RP Luke Hochevar are questionable to start the season.

Projected Record: 86-76

Home Field: Kauffman Stadium; Playing Surface: natural grass; Opened: 1973; Capacity: 37,903

2014 Attendance: 1,956,482 (11th in A.L.)

Key Players: 1B Eric Hosmer; LF Alex Gordon; C Salvador Perez; CF Lorenzo Cain, SP Yordano Ventura

MVP Candidate: 1B Eric Hosmer

Cy Young Candidate: SP Yordano Ventura

ROY Candidate: RP Brandon Finnegan

Key Additions: DH Kendrys Morales; RF Alex Rios; OF Raymond Fuentes; SP Edison Volquez; RP Kris Medlen

Possible lineup:

  1. Escobar SS
  2. Gordon LF
  3. Cain CF
  4. Hosmer 1B
  5. Perez C
  6. Morales DH
  7. Rios RF
  8. Moustakas 3B
  9. Infante 2B

Possible Rotation:

  1. Ventura
  2. Vargas
  3. Guthrie
  4. Volquez
  5. Duffy

Games against Red Sox in 2015: June 19-21; Aug 20-23

  1. Cleveland – Manager Terry Francona (3rd year/15th overall)

The Indians are a difficult team to project.  Looking on paper they can contend in the Central and a lot obviously will depend on how well they play head to head against the Tigers and Royals. This team needs to add some more power to the lineup and a middle rotation guy to really keep pace.  If they are in it around deadline time look for them to make some moves to give Terry Francona some players to work with.

SP Gavin Floyd will miss significant time with an elbow injury.

Projected Record: 81-81

Home Field: Progressive Field; Playing Surface: natural grass; Opened: 1994; Capacity: 42,241

2014 Attendance: 1,437,393 (15th in A.L.)

Key Players: SP Corey Kluber; 1B Carlos Santana; CF Michael Bourn; 2B Jason Kipnis; SP Carlos Carrasco

MVP Candidate: 1B Carlos Santana

Cy Young Candidate: SP Corey Kluber

ROY Candidate: SS Francisco Lindor

Key Additions: RF Brandon Moss; SP Gavin Floyd

Possible lineup:

  1. Bourn CF
  2. Kipnis 2B
  3. Brantley LF
  4. C. Santana 1B
  5. Moss RF
  6. Y. Gomes C
  7. Swisher DH
  8. Chisenhall 3B
  9. Lindor SS

Possible rotation:

  1. Kluber
  2. C. Carrasco
  3. Bauer
  4. Floyd
  5. Salazar

Adjusted rotation:

  1. Kluber
  2. C. Carrasco
  3. Bauer
  4. Salazar
  5. McAllister

Games against Red Sox in 2015: August 17-19; October 2-4

  1. Chicago – Manager Robin Ventura (4th year)

The White Sox were one of the teams to make a lot of roster moves in the offseason and it will definitely help as they should be able to improve their record over last year. They strengthened the rotation by trading for SP Jeff Samardzija, the bullpen is better with closer David Robertson on the back end of the bullpen and now have Melky Cabrera and Adam LaRoche to lengthen the lineup. There’s still work to do but there will be improvement on the South Side.

SP Chris Sale (foot) is expected to miss the start of the season and RP Nate Jones (TJS) is expected to miss most of the season.

Projected Record: 79-83

Home Field: U.S. Cellular Field; Playing Surface: natural grass Opened: 1991; Capacity: 40,615

2014 Attendance: 1,650,821 (13th in A.L.)

Key Players: SP Chris Sale; CF Adam Eaton; 1B Jose Abreu; SP Jeff Samardzija; RP David Robertson

MVP Candidate: 1B Jose Abreu

Cy Young Candidate: SP Chris Sale

ROY Candidate: SP Erik Johnson; SP Carlos Rondon

Key Additions: LF Melky Cabrera; DH Adam LaRoche; C Rob Brantley; SP Jeff Samardzija; RP David Robertson; RP Zach Duke; SP Brad Penny; IF/OF Emilio Bonifacio; 2B/3B Gordon Beckham

Possible lineup:

  1. Eaton CF
  2. Cabrera LF
  3. Abreu 1B
  4. LaRoche DH
  5. Garcia RF
  6. Gillaspie 3B
  7. Ramirez SS
  8. Flowers C
  9. Bonafacio 2B

Possible rotation:

  1. Sale
  2. Samardzija
  3. Quintana
  4. W. Danks
  5. Noesi

Adjusted rotation:

  1. Samardzija
  2. Quintana
  3. W. Danks
  4. Noesi
  5. Johnson

Games against Red Sox in 2015: July 27-30; August 24-26

  1. Minnesota – Manager Paul Molitor (1st year)

It’s going to be another long season in the Twin Cities in 2015 despite having a new manager in HOF player Paul Molitor on the bench. The lineup is not very deep and if they were to lose 1B Joe Mauer, 2B Brian Dozier or rookie CF Byron Buxton to injury they could lose 100 games. The starting rotation isn’t bad and hopefully will keep them in games so they can compete at least.

Projected Record: 67-95

Home Field: Target Field; Playing Surface: natural grass; Opened: 2010; Capacity: 39,021

2014 Attendance: 2,250,606 (8th in A.L.)

Key Players: 1B Joe Mauer; 2B Brian Dozier; SP Phil Hughes; SP Earvin Santana; RP Glenn Perkins

MVP Candidate: 1B Joe Mauer

Cy Young Candidate: SP Phil Hughes

ROY Candidate: CF Byron Buxton

Key Additions: Mgr. Paul Molitor; RF Torii Hunter; SP Earvin Santana; RP Tim Stauffer; RP J.R. Graham

Possible lineup:

  1. Santana SS
  2. Dozier 2B
  3. Mauer 1B
  4. Vargas DH
  5. Hunter RF
  6. Plouffe 3B
  7. Suzuki C
  8. Hicks LF
  9. Buxton CF

Possible rotation:

  1. Hughes
  2. Santana
  3. Nolasco
  4. Gibson
  5. Milone

Games against Red Sox in 2015: May 25-27; June 1-4

Tomorrow, in Day 5, we will preview the NL East.

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