When this week began, the American League Central was an eminently winnable sort of division. Sure, the Detroit Tigers won 95 games last year, but their Pythagorean record was a more modest 89-73, and in 2012 they'll be without one of their best hitters in Victor Martinez. That meant an opportunity for an up-and-coming squad like the Cleveland Indians or Kansas City Royals.
But then the Tigers, despite solemn promises that they wouldn't spend the money, lavished upon Prince Fielder a nine-year, $214 million pact. And now you can write in Detroit's name at the top of the standings. Use ink if you like.
Sure, the idea of having Fielder, Miguel Cabrera and Delmon Young wield leather at the same time for the same team is enough to haunt one's dreams, but the powerhouse offense plus a strong rotation fronted by AL MVP and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander is more than enough to overcome those pratfalls in the field. The Tigers, barring a series of minor miracles, will win the division. And that changes things for everyone else in the AL Central.