AL Central preview 2013: Tigers will roar

Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera celebrates after Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera celebrates after hitting a two-run home run during the fourth inning of Game 4 of the ALCS against the Yankees in Detroit. (Oct. 18, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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The bad news for the Tigers is that Bruce Rondon doesn't appear to be the answer at closer. The good news? Detroit probably is not going to need one very often.

Between having an impressive starting rotation, fronted by Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, along with a wrecking-ball lineup, the Tigers should be able to build a fairly large cushion by the time the later innings roll around.

As if Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder weren't enough, the Tigers signed Torii Hunter and also will welcome back switch-hitting catcher/first baseman/ DH Victor Martinez, who missed all of last season due to knee surgery. Not bad for last year's AL champs, and there's every reason to expect a return trip to the World Series.

The division shouldn't be much of a race, even after some major remodeling by the Indians, who look like they're trying to be the second coming of the "Idiots'' that won two rings in Boston.

Cleveland hired the bandleader of that group in manager Terry Francona, and also signed Ohio native Nick Swisher, who certainly fits the personality profile.

If Jason Giambi winds up sticking as the DH, that could be quite the clubhouse. Toss in Michael Bourn, and the Indians will have the ability to get people's attention, if not necessarily beat them.

The Robin Ventura-led White Sox still boast a beefy middle of the lineup with Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn and Alex Rios. But like the Indians, they're not as complete a team as the Tigers.

The Royals could be on the rise, with the addition of James Shields and a formidable bullpen.

As for the Twins, they're likely to settle into the division's basement, which should make Mike Pelfrey feel right at home.

Best of the AL Central

BEST MANAGER: Terry Francona, Indians

GENERAL MANAGER: Dave Dombrowski, Tigers

STADIUM: Target Field

EVERYDAY LINEUP: Tigers

OVERALL HITTING: Tigers

OVERALL POWER: Tigers

TEAM SPEED: Indians

TEAM DEFENSE: Indians

STRENGTH OF BENCH: Tigers

STARTING ROTATION: Tigers

BULLPEN: Royals

PLAYERS

1. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

2. Justin Verlander, Tigers

3. Joe Mauer, Twins

HITTERS

1. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

2. Joe Mauer, Twins

3. Prince Fielder, Tigers

POWER

1. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

2. Adam Dunn, White Sox

3. Prince Fielder, Tigers

STARTERS

1. Justin Verlander, Tigers

2. Max Scherzer, Tigers

3. Chris Sale, White Sox

RELIEVERS

1. Greg Holland, Royals

2. Chris Perez, Indians

3. Kelvin Herrera, Royals

NEW FACES

1. Nick Swisher, OF, Indians

2. James Shields, RHP, Royals

3. Michael Bourn, OF, Indians

FIVE-YEAR TREND

2012: Detroit (88-74)

2011: Detroit (95-67)

2010: Minnesota (94-68)

2009: Minnesota (87-76)

2008: Chicago (89-74)

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