No 2021 MLB division winner finished more games ahead of the second-place club than the Chicago White Sox. The Chisox had a 93-69 record in 2021, which put them 13 games ahead of the Cleveland Guardians (80-82). That finish put the White Sox behind the Tampa Bay Rays (100-62), who won the AL East, and the Houston Astros (95-67), winners of the AL West. The Astros eliminated the White Sox in four games in the ALDS.
The Detroit Tigers (77-85), Kansas City Royals (74-88), and Minnesota Twins (73-89) finished behind the Guardians in 2021.
Things look a little different as the 2022 MLB season heads toward the playoffs. Like last year, the Royals and Tigers are out of the postseason mix, but the Guardians, Twins and White Sox are in a heated battle for the top spot in the division.
As of this writing, the Guardians are in first place, but the Twins are only one game behind them and the White Sox are two games off the lead.
2022 American League Central picks
|To Win AL Central in 2022|
|Chicago White Sox||+275||+400||+260|
In the preseason polls, the Cleveland Guardians were given less than a 10 percent chance to win the American League Central, but here they are with a 68-63 record and sitting in first place in the division. However, that position is shaky. The Guardians are 3-7 in their past 10 games and are riding a four-game losing skid.
If the Guardians want to hold on to their top spot in the division, they need to find a way to put together another run like they are coming out of. The team went 8-1 between August 6 and August 15.
The Guardians have some good news on the horizon, they have two series upcoming against the Royals (54-80). However, they also play the Twins in two series and Minnesota is right behind them in the standings.
The Minnesota Twins spent big on Carlos Correa and while that signing has gone okay for the Twins, it hasn’t resulted in the team locking up a playoff spot. Correa’s production has dipped a bit since last year when he hit .279 with 26 home runs and 92 RBIs for the Houston Astros. His OBP, Slugging percentage, OPS and WAR are also down from last year.
Minnesota is 5-5 in their past 10 games, but they are riding a three-game losing skid as of this writing.
The Twins’ schedule looks a little rougher than Cleveland’s to close the year. They have a series against the Yankees coming and two runs against the White Sox to go with their two series against the Guardians.
If the Twins do not win the AL Central, they most likely won’t make the playoffs as they are five games out of the Wild Card race.
Chicago White Sox
The first thing that stands out when looking at the Chicago White Sox is they have a negative run differential to go with their barely over .500 record of 67-66. The White Sox have been outscored 591-568 this season. That’s no way to make a run toward the playoffs.
Chicago manager Tony La Russa has been criticized throughout the season for his decision making and if he’d be working for a different ownership group, La Russa would have likely been fired before the White Sox got to this point.
The White Sox have a mixed bag of a schedule coming up. They face some poor performing teams (Oakland, Colorado and Detroit), but they are also matched up against Seattle, Cleveland, Minnesota and San Diego down the home stretch.
With the team’s inconsistent play, the White Sox are going to need a lot to go right if they are to win the AL Central in 2022.
The AL Central is a division to watch down the stretch, but the Guardians should be able to hold on to their lead and win the AL Central in 2022.
Pick: Cleveland Guardians to win 2022 MLB AL Central Division.
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