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Sizing up the AL Central

For the last three years, the Detroit Tigers have owned the America League Central. Detroit has been the most complete team with a terrific starting rotation and mashing lineup, featuring the talents of Max Scherzer, David Price, Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Prince Fielder and Torii Hunter.

Fast forward to spring training, and only half those names remain. While the lineup should be formidable with Cabrera, Martinez and the newly-acquired Yoenis Cespedes present, the rotation has plenty of questions. Price is an unquestioned ace, but behind him are an aging Verlander, a solid-if-unspectacular Anibal Sanchez, and nothing but question marks beyond that.

The bullpen is an unspeakable disaster, perhaps one of the worst five in baseball. All of this equals a Detroit team that while dangerous, is extremely vulnerable.

The Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians could both give the Tigers a run for their crown. Cleveland boasts an impressive lineup featuring Brandon Moss, Michael Bourn, Michael Brantley, Jason Kipnis, Lonnie Chisenhall, Yan Gomes and Carlos Santana.

The main question for Terry Francona’s is the rotation, which is led by reigning Cy Young award-winner Corey Kluber. Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer and Danny Salazar are all young arms with vast potential, but remain mostly unproven. Carrasco looked really good down the stretch of 2014, posting a 1.82 earned run average in August before totaling a 1.62 ERA in September over 10 collective starts.

Chicago is also intriguing after making a bevy of offseason changes. The White Sox have a dynamic duo in their rotation with Chris Sale and Jeff Samardzija, followed by Jose Quintana in the third slot. David Robertson was brought in to fill the closer role, giving depth to a previously horrific bullpen.At the plate, Chicago is centered around slugger Jose Abreu. If the outside of Adam Eaton, Melky Cabrera and Avasail Garcia can stay healthy and produce, the White Sox could be playing in October.

At this point, Kansas City Royals fans are screaming about getting respect. The problem is, general manager Dayton Moore did nothing to help your club out. Moore allowed James Shields, Billy Butler and Nori Aoki to walk while only acquiring Alex Rios. When the starting staff is Yordano Ventura (who has excellent upside), Jason Vargas (who does not), Edison Volquez, Danny Duffy and Jeremy Guthrie, that is a problem. The lineup is also fairly weak with only Salvador Perez, Alex Gordon and perhaps Rios as impact bats. The strength of this group is a fabulous bullpen.

The Minnesota Twins are the runts of the litter. Minnesota is a young team under first-year manager Paul Molitor and will take its lumps in 2015. Outside of Brian Dozier, Kennys Vargas and the hope of a bounce-back season for Joe Mauer, there is not much reason to watch this group.

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