Fifth and penultimate post in the series.
In 2008 and 2009, the A.L. Central produced a one game playoff. 2010 saw a more uneventful finish to the season, as the Twins won the division easily, besting the White Sox by six full games. What’s going to happen this season? I’d imagine we won’t see a finish like 2010′s. I think this one will go down to the wire, with the Twins and Tigers battling for the crown, with Chicago’s sluggers knocking on the door as well.
Minnesota Twins: Francisco Liriano. This one is pretty selfish, no? We’ll be looking to see if he can finally start to string together some healthy and effective seasons and take that “next step.” Of course, we’ll also be looking to see if the Twins make him available in mid-season. If they do, the Yankees will surely be interested.
Chicago White Sox: Adam Dunn. Dunn is definitely one of my favorite players in the league. Both Larry and I have long coveted Dunn and are deeply saddened that he’ll never don pinstripes. Anyway, the Big Donkey is back in a supreme hitter’s park. Let’s see if he can continue his remarkable consistency in a new park and a new league.
Detroit Tigers: Austin Jackson. I think I’ll always root for Jackson since he was one of the first Yankee prospects I bothered to learn about when I started following the team as closely as I do now. He had a great showing as a rookie last year, even if it was BABIP fueled. Can he continue to smack line drives all over the place? Can he continue solid defense in center? Can he add some power?
Cleveland Indians: Carlos Santana. His season ended early with a horrific leg injury, but he was absolutely raking–.207 IsoP, .382 wOBA, 141 wRC+. Hopefully, he’s healthy all year and gets his career on that star track in 2011.
Kansas City Royals: I’m not sure when their minor league system will launch its takeover of Major League Baseball, so I’ll stick to a known quantity in Billy Butler. Butler’s had two solid years in a row (.369 and .372 wOBAs) and has shown great ability with the stick. He hits for contact and takes his walks. The only things missing are the defense and the power. Granted, those are big things. Let’s see if Butler can rediscover that .191 IsoP from 2009 (career .158) and supplement his offense a bit more.
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