The 2022 All-American League Central Team
The 2022 All-AL Central Outfield
Left Field: Eloy Jimenez (Chicago White Sox)
2021: .249/.303/.437, 10 HR, 37 RBI, 100 OPS+
Eloy missed the majority of the 2021 season, but when he’s healthy, watch out, which is what we are banking on here. It’s easy to forget that Jimenez is so young – he just turned 25 – so it’s quite easy to imagine that he is just starting to scratch the surface of his potential. That’s scary.
Center Field: Luis Robert (Chicago White Sox)
2021: .338/.378/.567, 13 HR, 43 RBI, 155 OPS+
Byron Buxton made a strong argument to get the nod here, but ultimately we went with the younger Robert for this squad. Simply put, Buxton is too injury-prone. Similarly to Jimenez, Robert is still quite young – he’ll turn 25 later this season, so I’d expect his stats to only get better. There’s a reason why so many teams lined up for his services when he defected from Cuba.
Right Field: Max Kepler (Minnesota Twins) / Robbie Grossman (Detroit Tigers)
Kepler 2021: .211/.306/.413, 19 HR, 54 RBI, 98 OPS+
Grossman 2021: .239/.357/.415, 23 HR, 63 RBI, 116 OPS+
The current state of right field in the AL Central can be summed up with one word: GROSS. Like, it’s really bad – trust us. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit. Maybe MEH is a better word. Any way you cut it, the less we talk about it, the better it is for everyone; hence, the tie. We set the parameters for this team so we can manipulate it how we see fit, okay?
Designated Hitter: Franmil Reyes (Cleveland Guardians)
2021: .254/.324/.522, 30 HR, 85 RBI, 127 OPS+
Reyes gets the nod here. He’s not an all-or-nothing guy; he hits for above league average but still can bomb one with the best of them, too. Oh, and he’s just 26 years old – his best days are still ahead of him. Could he become a consistent .275/.340/.550, 40+ home run, 100 RBI-type guy? Hopefully, and the Guardians would be ecstatic if/when he does.
Bench: Jorge Polanco (Minnesota Twins), Salvador Perez (Kansas City), Jeimer Candelario (Detroit Tigers), Byron Buxton (Minnesota Twins)
Polanco 2021: .269/.323/.503, 33 HR, 98 RBI, 125 OPS+
Perez 2021: .273/.316/.544, 48 HR, 121 RBI, 126 OPS+
Candelario 2021: .271/.351/.443, 16 HR, 67 RBI, 122 OPS+
Buxton 2021: .306/.358/.647, 19 HR, 32 RBI, 171 OPS+
You simply can’t leave a 30/30 guy off your All-Star roster, and that’s what Polanco was in 2021; he’s been in the league forever and is still only 28! Perez didn’t earn the starting gig on this squad, but the way he calls a game can’t be matched, and he did lead the league in belting 48 home runs last season. Candelario provides some positional versatility and just so happened to lead all of baseball last season with 42 doubles. And when Buxton is healthy, the guy is a beast (both offensively and defensively). The problem is, he’s rarely healthy.