MLB American League Central Baseball
MLB American League Central 2022
The AL Central was not overly competitive in 2021 as the Chicago White Sox won the division easily. At 93-69, they led the division by 13 games over the second-place Cleveland Guardians. Aside from the White Sox, no other team in the division even had a .500 record.
The White Sox are again expected to win the division in 2022; however, their sights are set higher than that. They currently are tied for the third-best odds of winning the World Series this upcoming season.
One team to keep an eye on moving forward is the Detroit Tigers. They surpassed expectations this past season, and they appear to be a team on the rise. They also seem willing to open their pocketbooks as they already have signed shortstop Javier Baez to a sizable contract.
The Twins, Guardians, and Royals also hope to be competitive this season, but they all have significant holes in their rosters that need to be filled.
MLB American League Central History
While Major League Baseball first introduced divisions within the American and National League in 1969, it was not until 1994 that the Central division was added to both leagues. Ironically, 1994 was also when there were no playoffs due to an MLB strike.
When the AL Central was introduced in 1994, there were five founding teams: the Chicago White Sox (came from AL West), Cleveland Indians (came from AL East), Kansas City Royals (came from AL West), Minnesota Twins (came from AL West) and the Milwaukee Brewers (came from AL East).
In 1998, the Milwaukee Brewers moved to the NL Central. In that same year, the Detroit Tigers, who had been in the AL East, were moved to the AL Central. Since then, the division has consisted of the Tigers, White Sox, Indians, Royals, and Twins.
At the end of the 2021 season, the Cleveland Indians officially changed their name to the Cleveland Guardians.
MLB American League Central Championships
The AL Central is the only American League division where every team has won at least one championship. The only other division to have that honor is the NL East. It is worth noting that some of the teams won the World Series while a part of a different division.
Since its inception in 1994, only two AL Central teams have won the World Series as part of the division. The White Sox won it all in a four-game sweep over the Houston Astros in 2005. The Royals won the World Series over the Mets in 2015.
As part of the division, several other Central teams have played in the World Series. The Indians have played and lost in the World Series three times since 1995, while the Tigers lost it in 2006 and 2012.
Cleveland has had the most success in terms of winning the division. They have 10 AL Central division titles. The Minnesota Twins (8), Chicago White Sox (4), Detroit Tigers (4), and Kansas City Royals (1) have also had varying success.
There has been diversity in the division winners over the last several years. In the past six years, Cleveland has won three times, the Twins twice, and the White Sox most recently in 2021.
MLB American League Central Top Players
Over the last few decades, some of the best players have graced the AL Central. Some of those players include Kirby Puckett, Frank Thomas, Johan Santana, Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Mark Buehrle, Paul Konerko, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Miguel Cabrera, Bret Saberhagen, Mike Sweeney, Carlos Beltran, CC Sabathia, Albert Belle, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, Kenny Lofton, Omar Vizquel, and others.
Since the addition of the American League Central in 1994, seven players from the division have won the American League’s Most Valuable Player award.
The Tigers have the most MVPs in that span, with three. In fact, a Tigers’ player won the MVP three years in a row from 2011-2013. Justin Verlander won the award once and Miguel Cabrera the other two years in that span.
The most recent from the division was Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox in 2020.
In terms of the American League Cy Young, the division has had 11 winners since its inception in 1994. The Indians have had the most winners, with five, including the most recent winner from the division, Shane Bieber, in 2020.
Today, the stars still shine bright in the A.L. Central. Here are just a few of the stars from the division this past season.
American League Central Star Players:
- Indians: Jose Ramirez – .266/.355/.538, 36 HR, 103 RBI, 111 R, 27 SB
- Royals: Salvador Perez – .273/.316/.544, 48 HR, 121 RBI, 88 R
- Tigers: Jonathan Schoop – .278/.320/.435, 22 HR, 84 RBI, 85 R
- Twins: Jorge Polanco – .269/.323/.503, 33 HR, 98 RBI, 97 R, 11 SB
- White Sox: Jose Abreu – .261/.351/.481, 30 HR, 117 RBI, 86 R
MLB American League Central Top Managers
While the AL Central has not been around for even three decades yet, it still has seen a plethora of significant managers throughout its years. Managers like Ozzie Guillen, Ron Gardenhire, Jim Leyland, Jerry Manuel, and Eric Wedge have been some of the best in the business over the years.
Starting in 1983, Major League Baseball began recognizing managers’ outstanding jobs with the Manager of the Year award. The AL Central has had a manager win the award ten times in that time.
The Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians lead the division with three award winners apiece. Recently, the Twins have won it in two of the last five years as Paul Molitor won the award in 2017 and Rocco Baldelli won it in 2019
Today, the division still hosts some of the best managers in the game. Hall of Famer Tony La Russa manages the Chicago White Sox. Other managers include Terry Francona (Guardians), Rocco Baldelli (Twins), Mike Matheny (Royals), and A.J. Hinch (Tigers).