As pitchers and catchers arrive in Florida and Arizona, Baseball Prospectus will be previewing every division in MLB. Today: the AL Central and NL Central.
Rating. History. Sure, the American League East has all that, but if you want drama, races, and parity, you get all that and more in the AL Central, where all four ballclubs not named the Kansas City Royals have made it to the postseason in the past four years. Championships? The Chicago White Sox won a world title in 2005. Not exciting enough for you? How about 163rd-game play-ins to determine the division winner in consecutive seasons?
Last year's projections suggested that the division would be as tight as ever, but if truth seems to keep upping the ante on fiction, leave it to PECOTA to try to trump that by delivering what would be a logistical disaster for the postseason: a three-way tie between the likely contenders, with the White Sox, Minnesota Twins, and Detroit Tigers all initially being projected for 80-82 records. It's a long way until Opening Day, so that's not quite the same thing as saying that we predict the division will be won with an under-.500 record, but all these teams have problems, and if the 1973 New York Mets are worried about their status as history's most feeble division winner (82-79), that's understandable.