We kicked off our divisional outlooks here at Eye on Baseball Thursday with the NL Central. So now it's onto the AL Central. Hey, why not give so-called flyover country some love and let the Centrals go first? After all, all three of us bloggers live in the midwest (no, not the East coast, you guys).

The AL Central is intriguing this season because nearly everyone is going to predict the Tigers to run away with the division and after that there's little agreement as to how things will shake out. The other four teams all have both good potential and the potential to be bad. No order of this groups' finish would surprise me.

2011 Final Standings
1. Detroit Tigers 95-67
2. Cleveland Indians 80-82
3. White Sox" data-canon="Chicago Cubs" data-type="SPORTS_OBJECT_TEAM" id="shortcode0"> 79-83
4. Kansas City Royals 71-91
5. Minnesota Twins 63-99

2012 spring primers
Detroit Tigers
Cleveland Indians
Chicago White Sox
Kansas City Royals
Minnesota Twins

American League Central's best

Best lineup: Tigers. The Royals and Indians have nice top-to-bottom lineups while the White Sox and Twins have the potential to be powerful, but the Tigers have the best 3-4 punch in baseball, and that's enough to put it over the top.
Best defense: Royals. According to the Fielding Bible projections, the Royals are the only team in this division that won't cost their pitchers runs defensively. And this ranking is assuming, of course, that Yuniesky Betancourt doesn't sniff shortstop.
Best rotation: Tigers. The Indians and White Sox have a shot here, but they also have more question marks. The Tigers have the man who was the best pitcher in baseball in 2011, two good mid-rotation arms and there's still room for development from the 23-year-old Rick Porcello.
Best bullpen: Indians. The Tigers may have Papa Grande, but the Indians have the Bullpen Mafia. Chris Perez is a quality closer and behind him there were four full-time relievers with an ERA of no worse than 3.03 last season. If you aren't yet acquainted, get to know the underrated Vinnie Pestano. Also keep an eye on the Royals. Had they not lost Joakim Soria they would have been the pick.
Best manager: Jim Leyland, Tigers. Tough call over Ron Gardenhire, but I'll go with the wily vet.
Best player: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers. Edges out his new teammate, Fielder.
Best pitcher: Justin Verlander, Tigers. No discussion necessary.
Best rookie: Addison Reed, White Sox. Slim pickings here because are a lot of good, young players in this division -- notably on the Royals and Indians -- but most have already eaten up rookie eligibility. Reed will have to do as the pick until Jacob Turner (Tigers) or Wil Myers (Royals), to name two, are ready to hit the bigs.

AL Central All-Star team

1. Alex Gordon, LF
2. Shin-Soo Choo, RF
3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
4. Prince Fielder, 1B
5. Billy Butler, DH
6. Carlos Santana, C
7. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
8. Jason Kipnis, 2B
9. Denard Span, CF
SP - Justin Verlander
Closer - Jose Valverde

Chances at winning the division

Tigers - 75%
Indians - 8%
Royals - 7%
White Sox - 6%
Twins - 4%

The Blue Jays Question

Much can be learned about the strength of the division by simply asking where the Blue Jays would finish. They were 81-81 last year, which was good for fourth in the mighty AL East. Where would they fit in the American League Central?

They're better than all but the Tigers here, and with competition much worse than in the AL East, I could see the Blue Jays actually making the Tigers sweat for the division crown. Still, Tigers are better and the Jays would end up in second place, losing out on the wild card as usual.

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