Owing to nothing more than curiosity and boredom -- and with the Twins in the midst of 22 consecutive games against division foes -- we spent the time to satisfy a nagging question: Since 1998, when the Tigers joined the AL Central to give the division the configuration it enjoys today, which team has the best overall record? You might find the results surprising. Here are the teams, listed in order of most overall victories from 1998 through Monday, along with the number of division titles won during that span.
(Division titles: three and leading this year)
Claim to fame: Probably the most consistent AL Central team since 1998, with nine finishes in either first or second place and only one 90-loss season. They also have the Central's only World Series title in this span (2005).
Claim to shame: Haven't won a playoff series outside their World Series year and couldn't get over the hump with talented teams from 2002-04, finishing second to the Twins each year.
(Division titles: six)
Claim to fame: Six division titles in a nine-year span from 2002-2010, including four in five years from 2002-06.
Claim to shame: Three consecutive 90-loss seasons from 1998-2000 and heading for back-to-back 90-loss years in 2011-12. Also a 2-19 record in their past 21 playoff games.
(Division titles: four)
Claim to fame: They were the bullies of the division back in the day. Before Detroit joined, they won division titles every year from 1995-97. After the Tigers joined, they took three more in the next four years between 1998-2001.
Claim to shame: Aside from a brief resurgence in the mid-2000s, the Indians have fallen on hard times. They haven't posted a winning record since 2007 and are on a monumental post-break skid this year.
(Division titles: one, plus 2006 Wild Card)
Claim to fame: Bounced back from division collapse to reach the World Series in 2006 as the Wild Card; took AL Central last season as is still in the hunt this year.
Claim to shame: We tend to forget this now, but the Tigers were brutal early in their AL Central tenure. They didn't have a winning record any season from 1998-2005, including a 43-119 mark in 2003.
KANSAS CITY: 1,009-1,397
(Division titles: 0)
Claim to fame: Remember 2003. Ah, that was Kansas City's glory year. The Royals were tied for the division lead in late August and finished 83-79. There's your highlight. Every other year has been pretty dreadful.
Claim to shame: 10 seasons with at least 90 losses (including four with 100 or more) firmly entrench the Royals in the overall cellar of AL Central teams. Maybe the current rebuilding effort will stick?