This division was ruled by the White Sox for eleven years. That all changed with the emergence of the Blue Jays. But before the Jays could get their dynasty off the ground, the Twins and Tigers stepped up to challenge them. Only one playoff team will emerge from this division, and it’s going to go to the team that has made the most moves and is willing to make more.
The predicted standings for this season are:
Toronto Blue Jays 100-62 (Division Champ)
Detroit Tigers 90-72
Minnesota Twins 84-78
Chicago White Sox 78-84
Chicago White Sox (jnewfry, *Founding Member)
Last Year: 83-79
Runs Scored/Allowed: 703/655
Players Added: rf – Bo Cornelius, Sp – Norm Fowler (NYY), sp – Donatello Bollea (Pit), 1b/dh – Tito Owens (Cle)
Players Lost: rf – Lorenzo Manto (fa), of – Michael Nix (TB), sp – Humberto Sierra (ana)
Preview: For the first time in 12 seasons, the South Siders missed the playoffs. This also ended their incredible streak of 11 division titles. The rebuilding begins for an experienced owner that should be able to return the team to the top in short order with the help from the most of the AAA squad from last year headed by prospect Bo Cornelius. Tito Owens fills in Lorenzo Manto at first base (an upgrade of about 15 runs).
One of the biggest upgrades comes at starting pitcher. Bollea may be 36 years old and declining, but jnew snagged him for $5.5 mil. Anytime you can get a starting pitcher that maintained a 3.85 FIP, and 1.42 WHIP you take that chance.
Overall: The White Sox organization knows that they don’t have the same kind of team that had won multiple division titles. While they will remain competitive, it won’t be enough to overcome the Blue Jays and Tigers.
Toronto Blue Jays (rod33, 7th Season)
Last Year: 95-67
Runs Scored/Allowed: 890/748
Players Added: 1b- Trevor Lewis (Tex), sp – Jair Villafuerte (AZ), sp – Cole Acker (Atl), sp – Goose Grahe (Tor)
Players Lost: 2b – Khoury Hayes (fa), rp – Tex Hines (fa)
Preview: Dethroned! The Blue Jays finally knocked off the vaunted White Sox and took their first division crown since season 8. In a league full of great offenses, the Blue Jays scored the most runs in Kinsella with 890.
The Jays have one of the best pitching rotations in the game with the addition of Acker, Grahe, and Villafuerte joining with Ramirez, Jeanmar, and Johnstone. It’s unsure if the Jays will go with six, with tandem, or rotate pitchers based on the best fit. Regardless, this is a deep group and you can never have enough pitching. Not to be overlooked is their defense at key positions.
The only thing missing from the Blue Jays explosive offense is Khoury Hayes. All of the young players moderate improvement. Blanco and Doumit lead the way for an offense that relies on OBP (.346 as a team) thanks to their ability to draw walks. Of the players that got 450 or more ab’s, six had a higher than 10% walk rate.
Overall: The Blue Jays are a terrific team, and they will improve over last year. Instead of rolling with what they had last year they worked to improve their team.
Minnesota Twins (thunderdonkey, 3rd season)
Last Year: 73-89
Runs Scored/Allowed: 756/769
Players Added: rp – Sven Hammonds (CWS), sp – Antone Durham (t-Clev), rp – Angel Feliz (Clev), 3b – Chick Fassero (t-Por)
Players Lost: p – Jose Lirano (fa), rp – Lariel Juarez (fa), of – Javier Valdes (Clev), ss – Germany Adock (bal), of – Steven Curtis (ruleV-NYM), dh – Sherman Daly (t-por)
Preview: The streak continues in the great white north, as the Twins failed to make the playoffs for the 17th consecutive season. Owner thunderdonkey (one of the great Kinsella names!) has had success in other leagues, and life with the big boys in Kinsella is a great challenge to show that the 7 division titles in other leagues weren’t a fluke.
This year started with an interesting switch when td sent their leading offensive player, Javier Valdes, to Cleveland for a starter and a reliever. The trade didn’t really fit with the Twins’ needs as all they gain yet another starter in Durham, and a setupB pitcher Ramirez. The Twins have taken the idea that you can never have enough starting pitchers to the extreme. There is a strategy here (tandems?), but regardless they have a plethora of starting pitching ready to challenge the best hitters in the league.
Overall: The Twins seem to have a strategy to begin competing immediately. The pitching looks improved, but what to do with all of that pitching? Offensively is where the Twins will struggle. With the players they currently have it doesn’t appear that they will score more than 4.4 runs per game (about 720 on the season). If I’m wrong, this is a playoff team.
Detroit Tigers (jdrake27, *Founding Member)
Last Year: 73-89
Runs Scored/Allowed: 811/859
Players Added: of – Pascual Brito (Cin), cl – Flash Tessemer (WAS), rp – Sherry Pierre (SD), rp – Stewart Daniels (KC)
Players Lost: 1b – Justin Hitchcock
Preview: Founding member jdrake hasn’t sniffed the 80 win mark since season 11, but the longtime owner hasn’t given up. Each year new talent comes in for the Tigers and gives the contracting city of Detroit hope that this is the year it all turns around.
It blew away Kinsella when the hapless Tigers made a huge push to sign Pascual Brito and closer Flash Tessmer. With Brito the Tigers instantly have a player that provided a 6.6 War, and 127 runs. Both players come at a substantial cost, and the Tigers raised payroll up to $89 million, with $86 of that used on actual player salaries and not being transferred to prospects. This is the largest investment in players since season 11…The last time the Tigers had a winning record (82-80, but no playoff).
Overall: Finally, the Tigers are going to compete. With a payroll showing the desire to win, and the players to finally do so, the Tigers are going to be the dark horse in the American league. One hesitation I have with the Tigers is how their personnel is used. Example: Using lefty Ted Lombard as a 2b. Lombard would be a gold glover in centerfield with his range and glove, but at 2b he had 7 errors and 16 negative plays. As much as I would like to trust the Tigers I just can’t see it this year despite the talent.