Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He has been a Star Tribune sports columnist since 1988. His sportswriting credo is twofold: 1. God will provide an angle; 2. The smaller the ball, the better the writing.


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These Tigers should be AL Central's best ever

Posted by: Patrick Reusse Updated: April 30, 2013 - 5:46 AM

Major League Baseball split into three divisions per league starting in 1994. The players went on strike Aug. 11. That wound up ending the regular season and wiped out the World Series for the first time in 90 years.

The playoffs were twice as large with three division champs and a wild-card team per league when the postseason arrived in 1995. The absurdity of a second wild-card and one-game shootouts in each league were added in 2012.

There have been 18 World Series in baseball's three-division era. Seven champions have come from the American League East (Yankees-5, Red Sox-2), four from the National League East (Florida-2, Atlanta, Philadelphia), three from the NL West (San Francisco-2, Arizona), two from the NL Central (St. Louis-2) and one apiece from the AL Central (White Sox) and the AL West (Angels).

The White Sox title came in 2005 and is the lone World Series championship for a Chicago franchise since 1917. The AL Central has sent four other teams to the World Series: Cleveland in 1995 and 1997, and Detroit in 2006 and 2012.

Two decades after the start of three-division play, the AL Central is not exactly a storied division. That said, I feel as if the Twins are currently in Detroit for a three-game series against a Tigers' team that should turn out to be the best-ever in the Central, barring injuries.

The Cleveland team of 1995 won 100 games in a 144-game scheduie, then powered its way into the World Series. Those were some frightening hitting teams the Indians put on the field in the mid-and-late '90s.

The White Sox team that rolled through October in 2005 was also tremendous. Yet, comparing those teams with the current Tigers, I like Detroit.

Here's a look at the AL Central teams that made it to the World Series, along with today's Tigers:

1995 CLEVELAND: C-Tony Pena. 1B-Paul Sorrento. 2B-Carlos Baerga. SS-Omar Vizquel. 3B-Jim Thome. LF-Albert Belle. CF-Kenny Lofton. RF-Manny Ramirez. DH-Eddie Murray.

SP-Dennis Martinez, Charles Nagy, Orel Hershiser, Mark Clark, Chad Ogea, Ken Hill (after July 27 trade). BP-Jose Mesa (closer), Julian Tavarez, Eric Plunk, Paul Assenmacher.

1997 CLEVELAND: C-Sandy Alomar. 1B-Thome. 2B-Tony Fernandez. SS-Vizquel. 3B-Matt Williams. LF-Brian Giles. CF-Marquis Grissom. RF-Ramirez. DH-David Justice.

SP-Nagy, Hershiser, Ogea, Jaret Wright, Bartolo Colon (rookie, 17 starts). BP-Mesa (closer), Mike Jackson, Plunk. Assenmacher.

2005 WHITE SOX: C-A.J. Pierzynski. 1B-Paul Konerko. 2B-Tadahito Iguchi. SS-Juan Uribe. 3B-Joe Crede. LF-Scott Podsednik. CF-Aaron Rowand. RF-Jermaine Dye. DH-Carl Everett (and Frank Thomas on limited basis).

SP-Mark Buehrle, Freddy Garcia, Jon Garland, Jose Contreras, Orlando Hernandez (for 22 starts). BP-Dustin Hermanson (closer), Luis Vizcaino, Neal Cotts, Damaso Marte, Bobby Jenks (later in season).

2006 DETROIT: C-Pudge Rodriguez. 1B-Chris Shelton, Sean Casey. 2B-Placido Polanco. SS-Carlos Guillen. 3B-Brandon Inge. LF-Craig Monroe. CF-Curtis Granderson. RF-Magglio Ordonez. DH-Marcus Thames.

SP-Jeremy Bonderman, Nate Robertson, Kenny Rogers, Justin Verlander (rookie), Zach Miner and others. BP-Todd Jones (closer), Joel Zumaya, Fernando Rodney.

2012 DETROIT: C-Alex Avila. 1B-Prince Fielder. 2B-Omar Infante (last two months). SS-Jhonny Peralta. 3B-Miguel Cabrera. LF-Andy Dirks. CF-Austin Jackson. RF-Brennan Boesch, others. DH-Delmon Young.

SP-Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, Rick Porcello, Drew Smyly, Anibal Sanchez (12 starts). BP-Jose Valverde (closer), Jaoquin Benoit, Octavio Dotel (later in season), Phil Coke.

2013 DETROIT: C-Avila. 1B-Fielder. 2B-Infante (full season), SS-Peralta. 3B-Cabrera. LF-Dirks. CF-Jackson. RF-Torii Hunter. DH-Victor Martinez.

SP-Verlander, Scherzer, Fister, Sanchez (full season), Porcello. BP-Valverde (closer for now), Benoit, Coke, Smyly, Al Albuquerque (healthy), Bruce Rondon (rookie with potential to help), Dotel (currently injured).

I like the 2013 Tigers much better than last year's World Series team. I like this Tigers' lineup over the 2005 White Sox. I like the Tigers' starting pitching more than the 1995 Indians, and substantially more than the '97 Indians

Again, barring injuries to this Detroit team, here's the way I rate all-time AL Central clubs for potency: 2013 Tigers, 2005 White Sox, 1995 Indians, 1997 Indians, 2012 Tigers and 2006 Tigers.Take your choice of the best of the Twins' division champs in the 2000s and put that club seventh.

 

 

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Minnesota 16 FINAL
Buffalo 17
Atlanta 7 FINAL
Baltimore 29
Tennessee 17 FINAL
Washington 19
Seattle 26 FINAL
St. Louis 28
Cleveland 6 FINAL
Jacksonville 24
Cincinnati 0 FINAL
Indianapolis 27
Miami 27 FINAL
Chicago 14
New Orleans 23 FINAL
Detroit 24
Carolina 17 FINAL
Green Bay 38
Kansas City 23 FINAL
San Diego 20
Arizona 24 FINAL
Oakland 13
NY Giants 21 FINAL
Dallas 31
San Francisco 17 FINAL
Denver 42
Houston 10/20/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Boston 95 FINAL
Brooklyn 90
Minnesota 112 FINAL
Oklahoma City 94
Golden State 83 FINAL
Houston 90
Charlotte 96 FINAL
Chicago 101
Utah 91 FINAL
LA Lakers 98
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
San Jose 0 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Calgary 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 1
St. Louis 0 FINAL
Anaheim 3
TX-San Antonio 20 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 27
Syracuse 30 FINAL
Wake Forest 7
Purdue 38 FINAL
Minnesota 39
Western Ky 38 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 45
(12) Baylor 27 FINAL
(22) West Virginia 41
(11) Kansas State 31 FINAL
(17) Oklahoma 30
Iowa 31 FINAL
Maryland 38
So Florida 38 FINAL
Tulsa 30
Tulane 13 FINAL
UCF 20
Virginia 13 FINAL
Duke 20
Akron 20 FINAL
Ohio U 23
Western Mich 26 FINAL
Bowling Green 14
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
Massachusetts 36
Appalachian St 53 FINAL
Troy 14
(25) UCLA 36 FINAL
California 34
Texas A&M 0 FINAL
(4) Alabama 59
Army 17 FINAL
Kent State 39
Kansas 21 FINAL
Texas Tech 34
UAB 22 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 34
Rutgers 17 FINAL
(13) Ohio State 56
(8) Michigan State 56 FINAL
Indiana 17
New Mexico 31 FINAL
Air Force 35
NC State 18 FINAL
Louisville 30
(21) Clemson 17 FINAL
Boston College 13
Ball State 32 FINAL
Central Mich 29
Cincinnati 41 FINAL
SMU 3
(9) Georgia 45 FINAL
Arkansas 32
Oklahoma State 9 FINAL
(10) TCU 42
San Jose St 27 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Miami-Ohio 41 FINAL
Northern Ill 51
New Mexico St 17 FINAL
Idaho 29
Colorado 28 FINAL
(20) USC 56
(23) Marshall 45 FINAL
FIU 13
Southern Miss 30 FINAL
North Texas 20
Georgia Tech 43 FINAL
North Carolina 48
Tennessee 3 FINAL
(3) Ole Miss 34
Utah State 13 FINAL
Colorado State 16
Missouri 42 FINAL
Florida 13
Kentucky 3 FINAL
(24) LSU 41
(16) Nebraska 38 FINAL
Northwestern 17
Georgia State 27 FINAL
South Alabama 30
Washington 20 FINAL
(6) Oregon 45
Iowa State 45 FINAL
Texas 48
(7) Notre Dame 27 FINAL
(2) Florida State 31
Nevada 42 FINAL
BYU 35
Stanford 10 FINAL
(14) Arizona State 26
Hawaii 10 FINAL
San Diego St 20
Arkansas State 10/21/14 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Columbus 3 FINAL
Red Bull New York 1
Seattle 2 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
Ottawa 6 FINAL
Hamilton 16
Montreal 20 FINAL
Toronto 12
Calgary 33 FINAL
Winnipeg 23
Edmonton 24 FINAL
Saskatchewan 19

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