The Detroit Tigers return the nucleus of last year’s World Series team but also added a familiar face by signing Torii Hunter. The Royals clearly think this could be their year after sending several top prospects to Tampa Bay for James Shields and Wade Davis. The White Sox can’t be overlooked, either. They were atop the division until the final 10 days last season.
2012 season: 88-74 (1st, AL Central; lost in World Series)
New faces: OF Torii Hunter, C Brayan Pena
2013 outlook: The offense is set with reigning MVP Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder in the middle. The rotation is set with Justin Verlander. The only question is who fills in for Jose Valverde at closer. It could be 22-year-old Bruce Rondon, who saved 29 games in the minors last season.
Kansas City Royals
2012 season: 72-90 (3rd, AL Central)
New faces: RHP James Shields, RHP Wade Davis, RHP Ervin Santana, INF Miguel Tejada
2013 outlook: At some point, the Royals had to make a serious run for the playoffs. They haven’t been there since winning it all in 1985, but they are going for it this year. They added James Shields and Wade Davis to solidify their rotation and reignite the fan base.
Chicago White Sox
2012 season: 85-77 (2nd, AL Central)
New faces: INF Jeff Keppinger, RHP Matt Lindstrom
2013 outlook: Jake Peavy and Chris Sale form a strong 1-2 punch at the front of the rotation, but the lineup suffered big blows with the departures of A.J. Pierzynski and Kevin Youkilis. They have the makings of a middle-of-the-road team.
2012 season: 68-94 (4th, AL Central)
New faces: OF Nick Swisher, RHP Trevor Bauer, OF Drew Stubbs, 3B Mark Reynolds, RHP Brett Myers, INF Mike Aviles
2013 outlook: The Indians traded away outfielder Shin-Soo Choo in exchange for what they hope will be a front-line starter (Trevor Bauer) and impact outfielder (Drew Stubbs). The Indians will certainly be more competitive this season, but it’s hard to see them pushing Detroit, KC and Chicago down the stretch.
2012 season: 66-96 (5th, AL Central)
New faces: RHP Kevin Correia, RHP Mike Pelfrey, RHP Josh Roenicke, RHP Vance Worley
2013 outlook: In Ron Gardenhire’s first nine seasons, he had one losing season with the Twins. But the past two have been the worst of his era with 99- and 96-loss seasons. Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau are power bats in the lineup, but the rotation and bullpen are shaky.
— Fort Worth Star-Telegram