AL Central teams face long odds in 2023

Prognosticators don't have much faith that any of the American League Central teams will make much noise in the postseason, although Cleveland, Chicago and Minnesota are given the best odds to win the division crown in 2023.



March 29, 2023 - 1:26 PM

The Kansas City Royals are banking on youngsters like Bobby Witt Jr., left, and M.J. Melendez in 2023. Photo by Ed Zurga / Getty Images / TNS

The Central divisions are often the most forgotten in Major League Baseball, and never was that more true than last year, when powerhouse teams on each coast (plus the Houston Astros, who of course play in the American League West) dominated the conversation and the star power.

And at least the NL Central has its classic Cardinals-Cubs rivalry. The AL Central, on the other hand? Well, it’s a tough child to love. But that doesn’t mean it’s without intrigue.

The Chicago White Sox had a brilliant season in 2021, winning 93 games and then returning the nucleus of that team last season. Injuries and some surprise regression cost the Pale Hose, however, and it was the Cleveland Guardians who fought off the White Sox and fast-fading Minnesota Twins to win the Central last season.

For the 2023 season, Caesars Sportsbook sees much of the same, with the Guardians slight +125 favorites over nearly equally likely challengers in the White Sox (+210) and Twins (+220). The Detroit Tigers (+2500) and Kansas City Royals (+4000) round out the AL Central as long shots.

None of the five AL Central teams are better than a 30-to-1 shot to win the World Series.

Let’s break down each team, their chances and discuss AL Central futures:

Cleveland Guardians

Odds to win the AL Central: +125

Odds to win the AL: +1400

Odds to win the World Series: +3000

Any team that starts with perennial MVP candidate Jose Ramirez and Cleveland’s strong stable of pitching is going to have a chance to play in October.

That will be the case again in 2023, with Shane Bieber, Triston McKenzie (who left his final spring training start with arm tightness) and Aaron Civale anchoring a good rotation and handing over to an elite bullpen that features Emmanuel Clase, perhaps the game’s best closer now that the Mets’ Edwin Diaz is out for the season.

The Guardians’ problem is that the offense, outside of Ramirez, features a bunch of singles hitters, with a good batting average but not enough power or on-base prowess. Free-agent additions Josh Bell and Mike Zunino will help a bit, but expecting them to solve the problem seems hopeful.

If the pitching stays healthy, this is the rightful division favorite, but the roster is still somewhat limited.

Chicago White Sox