By Michael Klopman
As most baseball fans know, Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA projections were recently released. We're going to give fans a chance to predict whether teams will finish over or under their projected win totals, just like Will Leitch did.
While it was close heading into September of last season, the Cleveland Indians ended up running away with the American League Central with a 94-win season, and they came pretty damn close to beating the Chicago Cubs in the World Series. The PECOTA projections have the same result for 2017 with Cleveland winning 92 games, and it's easy to understand why. The Tribe should be getting back a trio of impact players -- outfielder Michael Brantley and starting pitchers Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrassco -- who missed time last year due to injuries. And then there's the addition of power-hitting first baseman Edwin Encarnacion.
As for the rest of the division, the PECOTA system isn't too kind. Besides Cleveland, no other team is projected to finish the 2017 season with a winning record.
Despite winning the World Series just two seasons ago, the Kansas City Royals are projected to finish dead last in the division. But they have plenty of talent and several players looking to earn big contracts in free agency next offseason. Plus, there's the fact that, similar to the Baltimore Orioles, PECOTA hasn't been high on the Royals in each of the past four seasons but they've outperformed their projected win totals each time.
Meanwhile, the Chicago White Sox are in full rebuilding mode. The Detroit Tigers seem fairly close to rebuilding. And the Minnesota Twins lost 103 games in 2016 and don't show any signs of a massive improvement.
How do you think the AL Central will look at the end of the 2017 season?
American League Central
Chicago White Sox
Kansas City Royals
Michael Klopman is an associate producer for Sports on Earth.