White Sox's climb boosts AL Central

The acquisition of Jose Abreu kicked off Chicago's recent growth. AP Photo/Andrew A. Nelles

Maybe the American League Central has been better than previously advertised, in light of the recent postseason success of the teams. The Detroit Tigers played for the league championship three straight seasons, from 2011 to 2013, and really, all that stood between the Kansas City Royals and a championship at the end of a seven-game World Series this year was Madison Bumgarner. The Central fed two teams into the five-team playoffs each of the past two seasons, with the Cleveland Indians participating in 2013.

The division’s reputation for weakness has probably been built on its payrolls, besides that of the Tigers; the Indians, Royals and Twins typically operate with modest budgets, and the White Sox went through cuts in recent seasons. But, no matter how the perception was built, it is changing because the AL Central is evolving into something better.

The Tigers will again run out a rotation of stars, supported by Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, and the Royals should be back in contention again, even if they lose James Shields (and perhaps replace him with someone such as Ervin Santana, Francisco Liriano or Brett Anderson).