AL Central’s hottest/coldest players for 2024

The Minnesota Twins were blessed last year with the services of pitcher Sonny Gray, the American League Central’s top-rated player.

Gray accumulated 183 strikeouts and a 2.79 earned run average in 32 starts for the Twins. Voters placed him second to Gerrit Cole of the New York Yankees in balloting for the AL’s Cy Young Award.

Gray further documented his worth by racking up an overall base value (OBV) of plus-97, outstripping his closest divisional competitor by a margin of 22.

That should be a positive harbinger for Minnesota’s title chances in 2024, yet it isn’t. Gray departed the Twins shortly after the season, signing as a free agent with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Jose Ramirez, the third baseman for the Cleveland Guardians, therefore enters the new season as the AL Central player with the strongest momentum. Ramirez ranked second to Gray in OBV with a score of 75. He batted .282 with 24 homers and 80 runs batted in.

OBV, as you probably know, is a comparison of the output of a given batter or pitcher against the big-league average for the same season. Ramirez’s reading of plus-75 indicates that he reached 75 more bases through hits, walks, hit batters, stolen bases, and sacrifices than his typical counterpart would have achieved under the same circumstances. (Click here to learn more.)

Look below for the list of the 10 AL Central players (actually, 14 with ties) who enjoyed the strongest seasons last year — and thus (theoretically) enter the new season with optimism and momentum.

You’ll also find a list of the 11 players who fared the worst on the OBV scale. Pitcher Michael Kopech of the Chicago White Sox finished last in the division with a score of minus-91, indicating that he surrendered 91 more bases to opposing hitters than the average major-league pitcher would have allowed. He finished the year 5-12 with a 5.43 ERA.

Kopech will be returning to the Sox in 2023, though some of the others who joined him at the bottom will be moving on to new employers in 2024.

We’ll return to the AL Central on Friday with my forecast of the standings for the upcoming season.

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  • 1. Sonny Gray, Twins, OBV 97

  • 2. Jose Ramirez, Guardians, OBV 75

  • 3. Bobby Witt, Royals, OBV 68

  • 4. Luis Robert Jr., White Sox, OBV 66

  • 5. Tyler Holton, Tigers, OBV 65

  • 6. Tarik Skubal, Tigers, OBV 62

  • 7. Pablo Lopez, Twins, OBV 54

  • 8. Cole Ragans, Royals, OBV 52

  • 8. Eduardo Rodriguez, Tigers, OBV 52

  • 10. Aaron Civale, Guardians, OBV 45

  • 10. Bailey Ober, Twins, OBV 45

  • 10. Emilio Pagan, Twins, OBV 45

  • 10. Michael Lorenzen, Tigers, OBV 45

  • 10. Tanner Bibee, Guardians, OBV 45

  • 1. Michael Kopech, White Sox, OBV -91

  • 2. Tim Anderson, White Sox, OBV -85

  • 3. Javier Baez, Tigers, OBV -76

  • 4. Joey Wentz, Tigers, OBV -71

  • 5. Eric Haase, Tigers, OBV -62

  • 6. Cam Gallagher, Guardians, OBV -61

  • 7. Alec Marsh, Royals, OBV -58

  • 8. Christian Vazquez, Twins, OBV -55

  • 9. Myles Straw, Guardians, OBV -54

  • 10. Gavin Sheets, White Sox, OBV -45

  • 10. Oscar Colas, White Sox, OBV -45

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