Last season the American League Central division saw some new teams start taking the reins, with the Detroit Tigers falling to fifth place in the division. The only competition the Tigers had for terrible records was the Kansas City Royals.
The American League Central is going to look significantly different during the 2020 season. Now, for the Detroit Tigers, the season may look quite the same, but the opponents are going to be very different. With the improvements made by the other teams within the division, there’s a good shot the Tigers are going to struggle to win fifty games with their divisional opponents getting much better.
The Tigers schedule structure for the 2020 season will have the team taking on each divisional opponent nineteen times as usual. However, unique for this season, the Tigers will visit the Los Angeles Dodgers, see the San Diego Padres come to town, play seven games against the cheaters (Houston Astros), play seven against the other cheaters (Boston Red Sox), and play six games against a handful of other competitive teams.
Looking at that schedule construction, the Tigers are going to be struggling, most likely ending up at the very bottom of the division competing for yet another first overall draft pick. For those keeping a tally, it is very similar to the Edmonton Oilers of the National Hockey League; the Tigers may take home three first overall draft picks between 2018-2021. The Tigers are going to be facing some powerful opponents, and it may be a struggle to find wins here and there outside the division.
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Staying within the division, with the way this offseason has gone, winning within the division is going to get harder as well. The Chicago White Sox took twelve games against the Tigers last season, and they have only gotten better for the 2020 season.
This offseason, the White Sox has emptied their pockets into Yasmani Grandal, Dallas Keuchel, Edwin Encarnación, and Gio Gonzalez to increase their window of opportunity to win. The White Sox are going to be one of the better teams in the division, arguably one of the top two in the division.
Last season the Tigers only won one game out of nineteen against the Cleveland Indians who have made some moves this offseason as well. The Indians parted ways with Corey Kluber, who was traded to the Texas Rangers.
However, they have a new ace in the making, Shane Bieber, who will help them stay competitive. With a horrific track record against the Indians in 2019, the Tigers should look to win some more games as they will regress a little bit with the surge of the White Sox. The Indians most likely will finish third in the division, but remaining a competitive team.
Detroit’s best shot to win a seasonal series will come against the Kansas City Royals, who are also rotting at the bottom of the division. The Tigers edged out the Royals in the season series by one game, taking ten of nineteen on the year.
The Royals are in a rebuild as well, taking home Bobby Witt Jr., a top-flight high school talent in last year’s draft with the second overall draft pick. The Tigers and Royals will be battling it out at the bottom of the division for rights to top-three selections in 2021.
The fifth team in the division is the Minnesota Twins whom the Tigers would steal five wins against in 2019, losing the other fourteen games. The Twins may not have added a plethora of players like the White Sox, but they have added some power to a surging power lineup and 2019 AL Central Champions.
Detroit will have a tough time with the Twins as they battle it out with the White Sox at the top of the division. Keep in mind; the Twins added Josh Donaldson to their lineup, who was one of the top coveted free agents this offseason.
For everyone reading through this trying to do the math, let me clear things up. The Tigers record in 2019 was 47-114, leading them to the first overall draft choice in 2020. In the divisional games, the Tigers were 22-53 during the 2019 season. These twenty-two wins account for 46.8% of the teams’ total wins, and the fifty-three losses account for 45.3% of the teams’ total losses.
With improvements to the Twins and White Sox rosters, the Indians remaining competitiveness, it seems like this number will not be improving in 2020.