I’ve always considered the AL-Central the blue collar division. Not sure why.
Guess it is because everyone in this division seems to always be grinding it out to the last game of the regular season. There are no elite, highly financed squads steamrolling their way to the top. Just a bunch of teams trying to round it out day in and day out.
And, of course, there are both fantasy studs and plenty of talent worth digging for in drafts, as well.
Detroit Tigers: Team’s hub is Miguel Cabrera, the best fantasy hitter in the division. After that, the squad has a mix of decent young upside guys and older veterans. Johnny Damon should still be productive in this lineup, and I’m really looking forward to seeing both Rick Porcello and Max Scherzer in the same rotation. Both are fantasy value pitchers to consider later in your draft.
Chicago White Sox: Arguably the best rotation in the division with Jake Peavy followed by Mark Buerhle, John Danks and Gavin Floyd. Many fantasy owners are wondering what to expect out of Peavy, and he could be a great value if he can pitch as well as he did during his Padres campaign. However, it may be best to temper expectations.
Minnesota Twins: I touted Joe Mauer as one of several players at the core of my unpopular catcher drafting strategy. However, how was I to know he would get rockstar treatment from the fantasy circles and start getting drafted so stinkin’ high in most drafts? He’s gone from a player I’d snag to a serious bust contender based on his meteoric rise in average draft projections. Losing Joe Nathan means we already have a new cheap closer to consider. The Twins fit the team profile of a squad who will produce solid saves, so whoever gets the nod is an instant value pick. Early indications point towards Jon Rauch, although some rumors have Francisco Liriano in contention. That would be a shame, because I think Liriano could be a sneaky SP buy in drafts to stash away for a rainy day. This is the season Kevin Slowey breaks out. Mark my words.
Kansas City Royals: We all know Zack Greinke is a stud pitcher. Just not sure who will be a factor around him both in the rotation and in the lineup. I am targeting Billy Butler in drafts. Joakim Soria will continue to save a good number of games, although there are cheaper options that will come close to, if not match, his production in 2010.
Cleveland Indians: Kerry Wood is out for at least a month of the regular season, and I think Chris Perez will solidify his hold on the job and be a cheap source of saves … although I don’t expect him to get as many opportunities to close games as others in this division. Justin Masterson and Fausto Carmona are both very, very deep potential upside guys. I’m still not drafting either at this point. Grady Sizemore should rebound from a disappointing 2009 and provide some draft-day value, although he is creeping up the charts quietly. Remember the name Michael Brantley. Draft him as a spare outfielder late in your deeper league drafts. The only things standing between him and fantasy relevance are Russell Branyan and Matt LaPorte. Carlos Santana is someone to watch in terms of rookie catcher with upside.
Best fantasy hitter: Miguel Cabrera
Best fantasy pitcher: Zack Greinke
Hitting fantasy MVP: Billy Butler
Pitching fantasy MVP: Kevin Slowey
Fantasy rookie: Scott Sizemore
Division sleeper: Michael Brantley
Division bust: Joe Mauer
Don’t miss the NL-East divisional fantasy preview.
Who are your players to watch in the AL-Central?