After a disappointing 99 loss season fans across Twins Territory are eager to put the 2011 season behind them. The wait is over Twins fans; our beloved Twins take the field Friday in Baltimore to do battle with the Orioles and attempt to kick start 2012 with a W. What will 2012 bring for the Twins and how will the 2012 season play out for the AL Central teams and across the nation?
AL Central Predictions:
1. Detroit Tigers, 96-66
In January Victor Martinez suffered an off-season workout injury tearing his left ACL. The Tigers wasted little time and quickly filled the void in their lineup by signing Prince Fielder to a 9-year $214mil deal. The move came as a surprise to most baseball fans as the Tigers were already set at 1B with Miguel Cabrera, arguably the best hitter in the AL in 2011. Cabrera will move across the diamond to 3B this season and the opening day lineup for the Tigers will feature a lot of power. The Tigers will score a lot of runs this season, but even with the addition of Prince Fielder the Tigers will still be missing V-Mart (who had 52 XBH and 103 RBI last season) in their lineup. The Tigers are the most complete team in the division and have the best bullpen and top lineup in the central and a closer who hasn’t blown a save since 2010. The Tigers should are clear favorites to win the AL Central in 2012. For more on the Tigers check out Fansided’s Motor City Bengals site.
Best baseball name on the roster: Al Alburquerque.
2. Cleveland Indians, 83-79
In 2011 the Indians got off to a hot start and all across the nation fans were talking about Cleveland and their 30-15 start. Unfortunately, the nation was asking “when are the Indians going to fall apart?” and they did, losing the last four games of the season to finish the season 80-82. In 2012 the Tribe are out to prove that their hot start from 2011 was not a fluke. Cleveland brought in Casey Kotchman from the Rays to play 1B and with a budding star behind the plate in Carlos Santana, all-star SS Asdrubal Cabrera and second baseman Jason Kipnis at 2B the Indians will have a solid infield defense, and they’ll need to play well because the Indians starters led the AL in ground ball rate, inducing ground balls a whopping 48.3% of the time. If Grady Sizemore can stay healthy and play at the level this club needs him to, the Tribe will be in competition for the AL Central Crown until mid-August. It will be interesting to see how the Roberto Hernandez (aka Fausto Carmona) saga plays out as he tries to obtain a visa to enter the US under his real name. For more Cleveland Indians news than you could ever want, make sure to check out Wahoo’s On First.
Most likely to hit 40 home runs: Carlos Santana
Note: former Twin Kevin Slowey, who was acquired from the Rockies this off-season after being traded from the Twins was unable to secure a spot in the starting rotation for the Indians and will start the season in AAA.
3. Minnesota Twins, 81-81
The Twins offseason was busy, starting off with the replacement of BIll Smith with the man he replaced, Terry Ryan. The Twins lost some key components of winning Twins teams of the past as Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel and Joe Nathan all left for greener pastures. Terry Ryan went to work signing free agents Jason Willingham and Ryan Doumit to bring some big bats back into the lineup and Jamey Carroll to improve the defense at SS. The Twins also brought in veteran pitcher Jason Marquis who they hope can stay healthy and be a back of the rotation innings eater. The key for this team is the health of Mauer and Morneau. Mauer looks to be back to his smooth swinging self this spring, and although Morneau is slated to be used primarily as the DH early this season, he has found his swing and has started to put a hurt on the ball late in spring training. I look for the Twins to over perform on the vegas expectations this year (Vegas over/under for the Twins is 72.5 per www.betfirms.com) and get up to .500. While hopes for another AL Central crown are slim, look for the Twins to get back to playing small ball and playing good defense. While 81 wins might not be spectacular, it sure beats the heck out of 63. The Twins starting pitching could shine if Liriano and Baker both play at their best and Pavano and Marquis are both able to stay healthy and pitch 200+ innings. The Twins will need the starters to eat a lot of innings with so many question marks in the bullpen. Glen Perkins and Matt Capps are cemented into the late inning rolls, but aside from those two the rest of the pen looks to be a mess. The Twins will need Capps to bounce back form a rough 2011 season to be the shut down closer they traded for in 2010.
Best off-season move: Re-hiring Terry Ryan as GM
4. Kansas City Royals, 77-85
The Royals finished last season with 71 victories, good enough for fourth place in the AL Central and although they have a seemingly endless supply of top tier prospects who are coming up to the major league, the team is just not ready to contend for an AL Central crown. Many are predicting the Royals to finish above .500 for the first time since 2003 but I don’t see that happening in 2012. Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer will anchor the infield for the Royals and KC will need big numbers from both of them to get their record up near .500. The loss of pitcher Joakim Soria and catcher Salvador Perez were major blows to this team this offseason, but expectations are still up in Kansas City. The Royals will be an improved club in 2012, but I’m not looking for them to make a move in the division until 2013 and beyond. Look out Twins Territory, the Royals are coming. Want to know more? Check out Kings of Kauffman for all your Royals news.
Fun Royals Fact: In the last 17 years the Royals have had one winning season, 2003. In both 2002 and 2004 the Royals lost 100+ games.
5. Chicago White Sox, 72-90
The White Sox are going to be bad this season, really bad, 2011 Twins bad. The White Sox managed to scrape together 79 wins last season, but that was before the departure of Mark Buehrle, Omar Vizquel, Juan Pierre, Carlos Guentin and the always colorful Ozzie Guillen. The White Sox GM Kenny Williams insists that the team is not rebuilding, but the departure of so many stars this offseason speaks otherwise. The White Sox starting pitching staff will still be productive this season, even with the loss of Buehrle. I expect John Danks, Gavin Floyd and Philip Humber to all win 10+ games, and Jake Peavy could go as high as 15 or 16 if he stays healthy. 22 year old Chris Sale will be moving to the rotation for the first time this season after posting a 2.79 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP last season out of the bullpen. Offense for the Southsiders will be tougher to come by. Alex Rios and Adam Dunn both stumbled mightily last season and even their all-star SS Alexei Ramirez had a down year in 2011. Will their offense be able to turn it around in 2012? Is Adam Dunn done or was last season just a fluke? Veterans Paul Konerko and A.J. Perzynski should both continue to produce for the White Stockings, but new Chicago manger Robin Ventura will need some help from the rest of the lineup for 2012 to be a success for the Southsiders. Check out Southside Showdown for all your White Sox info throughout the season.
Best name in franchise history: Pants Rowland. Pants was the manager for the White Sox from 1915-1918 and in 1917 he coached the team to their only 100 win season in franchise history and a World Series title.
American League playoff contenders:
1. New York Yankees (East), 94-68
2. Detroit Tigers (Central), 96-66
3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (West), 94-68
4. Tampa Bay Rays (Wild Card 1), 92-71
5. Texas Rangers (Wild Card 2), 91-72*
*Texas wins a 1 game playoff against the Boston Red Sox
National League playoff contenders:
1. Philadelphia Phillies (East), 94-68
2. Cincinnati Reds (Central), 86-76
3. Arizona Diamondbacks (West), 89-73
4. San Francisco Giants (Wild Card 1), 87-75
5. St Louis Cardinals (Wild Card 2), 85-77
The AL will win the 2012 All-Star game and as a result, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will host Jason Kubel and the Arizona Diamondbacks in the World Series. The Angels potent combination of pitching and offense will make quick work of the Diamondbacks and win the series in 5 making the huge payroll increase worth every penny. WS MVP: Jered Weaver
AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera
NL MVP: Joey Votto
AL Cy Young: Jered Weaver
NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw
AL Rookie of the Year: Matt Moore
NL Rookie of the Year: Bryce Harper
AL Manager of the Year: Eric Wedge
NL Manager of the Year: Don Mattingly
Topics: AL Central, Carl Pavano, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Delmon Young, Detroit Tigers, Francisco Liriano, Glen Perkins, Jamey Carroll, Jason Kubel, Joe Mauer, Joe Nathan, Josh Willingham, Justin Morneau, Kansas City Royals, Kevin Slowey, Matt Capps, Michael Cuddyer, Minnesota Twins, Scott Baker