The model: Cardinals
Baseball's final four teams last season were St. Louis, San Francisco, Kansas City and Baltimore. Three of those four teams were known for excellent defense. Run prevention keeps a team in contention, and St. Louis was pretty good at it last season. John Dewan, whose defensive-runs-saved system determines how fielders help their teams, ranked the Cardinals the second-best defensive team in baseball in 2014. Well, they should blow everyone away with glovework this season because they got Jason Heyward, perhaps the best right fielder in baseball, from Atlanta during the offseason. They also will have Yadier Molina, an excellent catcher, behind the plate after an injury-plagued 2014. This team will not give away many outs this season because there are plus defenders everywhere.
AL Central rankings
1. Royals: Outfielders AlexGordon and Lorenzo Cain are ridiculously good.
2. White Sox: Adam Eaton better be ready to run down balls between Melky Cabrera and Avisail Garcia.
3. Tigers: Jose Iglesias returns to shore up the infield. Outfield range should be a little better.
4. Indians: A poor defense could keep this team from reaching the postseason.
5. Twins: Didn't address defensive shortcomings during offseason and could pay for it.