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Coming off their first 100-win season since 1965, the Minnesota Twins enter the 2020 campaign aiming to win back-to-back AL Central titles for the first time since 2009-10.
|Chicago White Sox||+350|
|Kansas City Royals||+30000|
A price tag of -150 feels hefty for the Twins in an improved AL Central, especially considering their offseason activity. C.J. Cron and Jonathan Schoop, who combined for 48 home runs and 137 RBIs in 2019, left as free agents, and a 34-year-old Josh Donaldson is all Minnesota added to replace them in the lineup. How confident can we be in Donaldson's ability to replicate last season's success? The same can be asked about Nelson Cruz, who turns 40 on July 1.
Despite signs of regression from a Twins lineup that mashed the ball in 2019, the real area of concern is the rotation. Minnesota was blessed with great rotational health last season, with five pitchers combining for 146 of its 162 starts (over 90%). Two of those guys - Kyle Gibson and Martin Perez - departed in the offseason, and Michael Pineda will miss the first 39 games of the season due to a suspension. That leaves 66 vacated starts to be filled by Kenta Maeda and Homer Bailey, the latter of whom posted a sub-5.00 ERA for the first time since 2014 last season.
The Twins are poised to take a step back in 2020, and two teams are primed to take advantage. One of those contending clubs is the White Sox, who splashed the cash this offseason, bringing in some quality veterans to join a remarkable crop of young talent.
There's a lot to be excited about on the South Side of Chicago, especially the likes of Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez, and Luis Robert. But inexperience often breeds inconsistency. That same issue could creep its way into a rotation that includes Lucas Giolito and Dylan Cease, and it could be what holds this team back just enough to make 2021 a more realistic target for taking the next step toward legitimate contention.
Inexperience is hardly a concern for the Indians, who won three straight division titles from 2016-18. Armed with an elite pitching staff, Cleveland is poised to take another run at returning to the top of the Central this season.
The Indians' rotation dealt with a number of health setbacks last season, most notably battling the prolonged injury absences of Mike Clevinger and Carlos Carrasco. Clevinger has Cy Young potential if he can stay healthy, which had never been an issue for him before last season. He's joined atop the rotation by stud Shane Bieber, who finished fourth in AL Cy Young voting in 2019. With Carrasco, Zach Plesac, and Aaron Civale rounding out the rotation, the sky really is the limit for this bunch.
That pitching depth takes a ton of pressure off a lineup that appears destined for a bounce-back season. Jose Ramirez failed to build on a breakout 2018 campaign last season, but he suffered through injuries and bad BABIP luck before slashing .327/.365/.739 over the second half of 2019. He also just turned 27, typically the age at which a player really puts it all together.
A big season from Ramirez would lighten the burden on Francisco Lindor, giving the Indians a dangerous blend of hitting and pitching that the Twins and White Sox simply can't match.
Best bet: Cleveland Indians (+260)
Alex Moretto is a sports betting writer for theScore. A journalism graduate from Guelph-Humber University, he has worked in sports media for over a decade. He will bet on anything from the Super Bowl to amateur soccer, is too impatient for futures, and will never trust a kicker. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.