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American League Central – MLB Division Guide

Information is power when it comes to betting on the MLB. That’s true for any sport or league really, but baseball betting is especially data-driven.

You need to know as much as possible about the teams and players involved. You need to know the numbers, as baseball stats can be incredibly useful when it comes to choosing your bets.

This part of our guide to betting on the MLB is focused on the AL Central division. You’ll learn all about the teams and their recent records, and we provide various statistics that are worth studying.

MLB AL Central Betting in 2021

Before we dive into everything you need to know about the American League Central, here are some details of other sections of our site that can help with your MLB betting.

First, there are our MLB betting picks. During the season, you’ll find daily betting tips for upcoming games in the AL Central and other divisions.

We also cover the MLB on our blog. We provide all kinds of great content about the league and how to bet on it.

Our writers share their preseason MLB predictions for various futures and season-long props, analysis of rosters and coaching staff, and much more.

Chicago White Sox

Chicago White Sox Key Info

Chicago White Sox Logo
  • Established: 1900
  • Ballpark: Guaranteed Rate Field
  • AAA Affiliate: Charlotte Knights
  • World Series Titles: 3 (1906, 1917, 2005)
  • Value: 65 Billion (Forbes, 2020)
  • Official Chicago White Sox Website

Chicago hasn’t always had a promising franchise. A playoff appearance in 2020 ended a 12-year postseason drought, and they’ve won just one World Series since 1917.

The Black Sox Scandal hung over this franchise like a dark cloud for many years.

Eight White Sox players received cash bribes in exchange for “throwing” the 1919 World Series versus the Reds – an accusation that was brought to life by a Grand Jury the following year.

Perhaps karma is a real thing in baseball because it took 40 years for Chicago to get back to the Fall Classic.

The White Sox have only been to two world series since 1919 (1959, 2005), and 88 years elapsed between victories (1917-2005).

Luke Appling is one of the 10 best shortstops of all time and played his entire 20-year career with the ChiSox.

Nicknamed “Old Aches and Pains” for his habitual complaining, Appling was “almost” the best White Sox hitter who ever lived. However, that title belongs to “The Big Hurt.”

Frank Thomas’ illustrious career is littered with accolades, but here’s one way to sum up the first-ballot Hall of Famer’s career. Thomas accumulated nine seasons with at least 100 runs, 100 RBIs, and 100 walks.

The other members of that list? Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Barry Bonds.

That’s called being in select company.

Recent Records and Stats for the Chicago White Sox

The South Siders made a giant leap in 2020 after several straight years of disappointment.

2020 marked the first winning season for “The Pale Hose” since 2012. 

Season Wins Losses AL Central Finish Playoffs Batting Avg. Home Runs ERA
2020 35 25 3rd Lost in WC .261 96 3.81
2019 72 89 3rd   No .261 182 4.90
2018 62 100 4th No .241 182 4.83
2017 67 95 4th No .256 186 4.78

The shortened season in 2020 skews the numbers, but we’ll illustrate just how stellar the White Sox were across the board.

  • 96 home runs – 1st in the AL
  • .261 BA – 2nd in the AL
  • 81 ERA – 5th in the AL

Tim Anderson and Eloy Jimenez were nothing short of outstanding, but it was Jose Abreu’s video-game-like numbers that put this lineup over the top.

On his way to winning the AL MVP (first White Sox player honored since Frank Thomas won back-to-back MVPs in ’93 and ’94), Jose led the majors in RBI, finished 2nd in homers, and 3rd in hits.

Cleveland Indians

Cleveland Indians Key Info

Cleveland Indians Logo
  • Established: 1894
  • Ballpark: Progressive Field
  • AAA Affiliate: Columbus Clippers
  • World Series Titles: 2 (1920, 1948)
  • Value: 15 Billion (Forbes, 2020)
  • Official Cleveland Indians Website

The Cleveland Naps became the Cleveland Indians in 1914 – a moniker that has stuck with this franchise for more than 100 years. Having said that, this will change as early as 2022 after outside pressure forced the organization to give in.

As far as what name the club will adopt, that’s still up in the air.

When you think about the best Cleveland Indians of all-time, Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome quickly come to mind.

Ramirez’s 555 career jacks place him 15th all-time, while Thome is one of nine members in the extremely coveted “600-HR club.”

On the other hand, few pitchers in the history of the sport have been able to accomplish what Bob Feller did during his 18 years with the Tribe.

On top of winning the Triple Crown in 1940 (league leader in ERA, wins, and strikeouts), Feller tossed three career no-hitters and struck out a whopping 348 batters during the 1946 regular season. Since 1904, the only pitchers to K more batters in a year are Nolan Ryan, Sandy Koufax, and Randy Johnson.

After Feller and SS/manager Lou Boudreau helped lead the Indians to a World Series title in 1948, The Wahoos made it back to the postseason just once over the next 45 years.

Cleveland emerged from the strike-shortened season in 1994 with five consecutive playoff appearances, two of which resulted in World Series losses (1995, 1997).

Recent Records and Stats for the Cleveland Indians

Posting a winning record every year since 2013, maybe we were being a bit naïve with our AL Central predictions in 2021.

2013 happens to be the same year that Terry Francona was hired as the skipper – a direct correlation to the team’s continued success.

Season Wins Losses AL Central Finish Playoffs Batting Avg. Home Runs ERA
2020 35 25 2nd Lost in WC .228 59 3.29
2019 93 69 2nd No .250 223 3.76
2018 91 71 1st Lost in ALDS .259 216 3.77
2017 102 60 1st Lost in ALDS .263 212 3.30

What stands out most about the Indians over the last four years is how consistent they’ve been on the mound.

Check out how their team ERA numbers stack up with the rest of the league.

  • 2nd in 2020
  • 4th in 2019
  • 9th in 2018
  • 1st in 2017

For good measure, the Indians ranked 7th in 2016 and 8th in 2015. That’s six straight years inside the top 10 in MLB team ERA heading into 2021.

Detroit Tigers

Detroit Tigers Key Info

Detroit Tigers Logo
  • Established: 1894
  • Ballpark: Comerica Park
  • AAA Affiliate: Toledo Mud Hens
  • World Series Titles: 4 (1935, 1945, 1968, 1984)
  • Value: 25 Billion (Forbes, 2020)
  • Official Detroit Tigers Website

While changing cities and changing names are becoming commonplace in professional baseball, the Detroit Tigers have been constant since 1901. They played on the same field from 1912-1999 until moving into Comerica Park in 2000.

You can’t get too deep into a conversation about the history of the Detroit Tigers without bringing up Ty Cobb. “The Georgia Peach” wasn’t the nicest man to ever grace the diamond, but he’s undoubtedly one of the greatest hitters to ever live.

Ty’s player page on baseball-reference.com is scattered with bold and italic print, and his dependability at the plate puts him in rarefied air. Cobb hit over .400 in three separate seasons and led the American League in BA 12 times.

Ty Cobb – All-Time Ranks
1st in career BA (.366)
2nd in hits (4,189)
4th in steals (897)

Of course, we can’t leave out Hank Greenberg and Al Kaline when we’re discussing Tigers lore.

Greenberg won two AL MVPs playing first base and left field (1935, 1940), and that doesn’t account for his 1937 season when he recorded 184 RBI. Or in 1938 when he launched a league-high 58 homers.

Kaline played 22 seasons in the MLB, all in the Motor City, winning 10 Gold Gloves and making 18 All-Star teams. No wonder Al’s been lauded as “Mr. Tiger” for all these years.   

Recent Records and Stats for the Detroit Tigers

Dating back to 2017, the Tigers have won fewer baseball games than any other team in the Majors.

A team that once has Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander has finished last in the league in team ERA in two of the past four seasons (2017, 2020).

Season Wins Losses AL Central Finish Playoffs Batting Avg. Home Runs ERA
2020 23 35 5th  No .245 62 5.63
2019 47 114 5th  No .240 149 5.24
2018 64 98 3rd No .241 135 4.58
2017 64 98 5th   No .258 187 5.36

Unfortunately for Detroit, pitching hasn’t been their only problem.

Going back to 2016, the Tigers haven’t finished higher than 23rd in the league in homers, nor have they landed in the top 20 in stolen bases.

They’ve been in the bottom-three in on-base % in each of the last three seasons.

Kansas City Royals

Kansas City Royals Key Info

Kansas City Royals Logo
  • Established: 1969
  • Ballpark: Kauffman Stadium
  • AAA Affiliate: Omaha Storm Chasers
  • World Series Titles: 2 (1985, 2015)
  • Value: 025 Billion (Forbes, 2020)
  • Official Kansas City Royals Website

The Royals haven’t been back to the playoffs since hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy in 2015. In fact, Kansas City has only qualified for the postseason twice since 1986.

After playing their first four seasons in Municipal Stadium (sharing it with the Kansas City Chiefs for three of those years), the Royals opened up their own park in 1973.

Between 1966-1991, Kauffman Stadium was actually the only ballpark in the big leagues constructed as a baseball-only stadium. “The K” completed a $250 million renovation in 2009.

Keeping on theme with touting each of the team’s best player, George Brett takes the cake in KC by quite a significant margin. The 13x All-Star slots seventh all-time with 665 doubles and racked up 3,154 hits overall.

The Royals hot corner from 1973-1993 led the league in triples three times, including when he raked 20 three-baggers in 1979.

Despite the amazing achievements draped across his resume, it’s impossible not to immediately think of the pine tar incident when you reminisce about Brett’s career. George’s reaction to being called out for using an illegal bat is a treasured piece of MLB footage.

Kansas City has been to the playoffs just three times since 1985, but ironically, they went to the World Series on all three occasions.

Recent Records and Stats for the Kansas City Royals

It’s been all downhill for the Royals following their victory in the 2015 WS.

No winning seasons, no playoff appearances, and no individual awards.

Season Wins Losses AL Central Finish Playoffs Batting Avg. Home Runs ERA
2020 26 34 4th No .244 68 4.30
2019 59 103 4th No .247 162 5.20
2018 58 104 5th No .245 155 4.94
2017 80 82 3rd No .259 193 4.61

The recent struggles can’t be pinned down to one single facet of the game, although winding up near the bottom of the league in batting average and home runs certainly don’t help.

Mike Matheny took over for Ned Yost after the 2019 season and Kansas City was a little bit better in 2020.

Given Matheny’s track record during his time in the dugout in St. Louis, it appears that the Royals are on a path back to relevancy. 

Minnesota Twins

Minnesota Twins Key Info

Minnesota Twins Logo
  • Established: 1901
  • Ballpark: Target Field
  • AAA Affiliate: St. Paul Saints
  • World Series Titles: 3 (1924, 1987, 1991)
  • Value: 3 Billion (Forbes, 2020)
  • Official Minnesota Twins Website

Before the Minnesota Twins came to life, this franchise was known as the Washington Senators. We bring that up so we can pay tribute to Walter Johnson’s career.

Arguably the greatest pitcher in the history of baseball, “The Big Train” registered three Triple Crown seasons and holds the record with 110 career shutouts.

Being that Walter Johnson never played a game in the Twin Cities, we’ll introduce the names synonymous with Minnesota Twins all-time greats.

  • Kirby Puckett
  • Harmon Killebrew
  • Rod Carew
  • Tony Oliva
  • Bert Blyleven
  • Joe Mauer

Shoutout to Kent Hrbek as well, the Twins first baseman who came up with clutch performances during both of Minnesota’s World Series runs. All seven of these aforementioned names, along with manager Tom Kelly, have their jerseys retired at Target Field.

A team starved of success since their last World Series victory, the hiring of Rocco Baldelli in 2019 has quickly turned the tide.

Baldelli won Manager of the Year during his first season in Minnesota, leading the Twins to their first 100+ win season since 1965.

Recent Records and Stats for the Minnesota Twins

As good as the Twinkies have been in the regular season, they’ve crumbled in the playoffs.

To be more specific, they’ve suffered 18 consecutive losses in the postseason dating back to 2004 – a record across all North American professional sports teams.

Season Wins Losses AL Central Finish Playoffs Batting Avg. Home Runs ERA
2020 36 24 1st Lost in WC .242 91 3.58
2019 101 61 1st Lost in ALDS .270 307* 4.18
2018 78 84 2nd No .250 166 4.50
2017 85 77 2nd Lost in WC .260 206 4.59

*MLB Record

Minnesota clubbed out 307 long balls in 2019, the most of all time, but let’s glean some more insight into exactly how that happened.

  • 5 Twins players had at least 31 home runs
  • 8 Twins players had at least 22 home runs
  • 11 Twins players had double-digit home runs

Minny’s 3.58 ERA in 2020 was their lowest since 1964. They have Kenta Maeda’s jaw-dropping 2.00 mark across 66.2 innings to thank.

AL Central History

The American League Central Division was devised in 1994.

Chicago, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Minnesota were all founding members.  The Milwaukee Brewers were originally in the AL Central but were replaced by the Detroit Tigers in 1998

The table below indicates how many division crowns each squad has captured; a tidbit that comes in handy for anyone betting on AL Central Division futures.

Franchise AL Central Titles Last AL Central Title
Chicago White Sox 3 2008
Cleveland Indians 10 2018
Detroit Tigers 4 2014
Kansas City Royals 1 2015
Minnesota Twins 8 2020

Worth noting about the American League Central is that it’s the only division that can say all five teams have won at least two World Series.

The “small print” underneath that claim is that the White Sox and Royals are the only teams that won a WS as a member of the AL Central. 

In other words, three of these teams have not won a World Series since the AL Central was officially formed.

AL Central Division Stats and Records

Shopping the AL Central odds across all of the best betting sites is one way to gain an edge when you’re betting MLB divisions.

Once the season begins and you’re ready to bet on the games, studying the ATS numbers can lend lots of valuable insight.

Rather than go rummaging the internet trying to track all this information down, utilize the tables below. 

AL Central Stats for 2020
Team Straight-Up Winning % Run Line Cover % Over Record Over %
White Sox 36-27 57.1 38-25 60.3 29-32-2 47.5
Indians 35-27 56.5 32-30 51.6 23-35-4 39.7
Tigers 23-35 39.7 29-29 50.0 28-29-1 49.1
Royals 26-34 43.3 31-29 51.7 22-36-2 37.9
Twins 36-26 58.1 29-33 46.8 20-38-4 34.5
AL Central Stats for 2019
Team Straight-Up Winning % Run Line Cover % Over Record Over %
White Sox 72-89 44.7 78-83 48.4 75-80-6 48.4
Indians 93-69 57.4 86-76 53.1 71-86-5 45.2
Tigers 47-114 29.2 66-95 41.0 70-80-11 46.7
Royals 59-103 36.4 78-84 48.1 82-74-6 52.6
Twins 101-64 61.2 88-77 53.3 82-76-7 51.9
AL Central Stats for 2018
Team Straight-Up Winning % Run Line Cover % Over Record Over %
White Sox 62-100 38.3 84-78 51.8 75-77-10 49.3
Indians 91-74 55.1 75-90 45.5 78-76-11 50.6
Tigers 64-98 39.5 82-80 50.6 71-83-8 46.1
Royals 58-104 35.8 79-83 48.8 70-82-10 46.1
Twins 78-84 48.1 85-77 52.5 79-78-5 50.3

You can plainly see that in the case of the AL Central, a good “W-L” record doesn’t always translate into being trustworthy at covering the run line.

A good example of this is the 2018 Indians, a team that went 91-71 in the regular season and won the division crown. That same team covered the run line less than 46% of the time.

On the other end of the spectrum, the White Sox lost 100 games that very same year. Be that as it may, Chicago was able to cover the run line nearly 52% of the time.

These are details most would never realize without seeing the data first-hand. 

Recent AL Central Winners
Year Winner Regular-Season Record
2020 Minnesota Twins 36-24
2019 Minnesota Twins 101-61
2018 Cleveland Indians 91-71
2017 Cleveland Indians 102-60
2016 Cleveland Indians 94-67
2015 Kansas City Royals 95-67
2014 Detroit Tigers 90-72
2013 Detroit Tigers 93-69
2012 Detroit Tigers 88-74
2011 Detroit Tigers 95-67
2010 Minnesota Twins 94-68

Guides for Other MLB Divisions

Some people who bet on baseball just want predictions and picks, perhaps with a touch of insight to support to them. Others want to carry out their own analysis of the available data before making their bets.

We try to cater for everyone, and this AL Central Division guide certainly has a lot of useful information to analyze.

Are you ready to hop into the next MLB Division guide?