2014 Previews: The American League Central

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2014 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League Central.

The Tigers always start the season as big favorites, but always seem to go down to the last week before clinching. Same script this year? Who’s their biggest challenge this year: the Indians or the Royals? The White Sox got better, but did they get relevant? The Twins, alas, are the Twins. Anything at all to look forward to there?

Below are our team-by-team previews for the AL Central as well as our HBT Extra feature on the division:

Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
Cleveland Indians
Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $100,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Opening Day’s games (March 31). It’s $25 to join and first prize is $15,000. Starts at 1:05pm ET on Opening Day. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Video: Gleyber Torres slugs a home run in his fourth straight game

AP Images
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Yankees rookie second baseman Gleyber Torres has a fun streak going right now: He’s homered in four straight games, becoming the youngest American League player to do so.

The historic knock arrived in the seventh inning of Friday’s series opener against the Angels. With two outs and the bases empty, Torres pounced on a 1-3 fastball from Jim Johnson and posted it to the right field bleachers for a go-ahead run:

It was just the Yankees’ second run of the night (the first having also been provided by Torres on an RBI single in the second inning), but the only one they needed to maintain an edge over the Angels.

Torres, 21, is off to a torrid start this season. Following Saturday’s 2-1 win, he now carries a .333/.393/.646 batting line, nine home runs and a 1.038 OPS through 106 plate appearances. In the past four games alone, he’s gone 7-for-15 with five homers (including a pair of solo shots, a two-run homer and three-run homer) and nine RBI. He’ll have to collect a home run in his next five games if he wants to set a new all-time record, however: Dale Long (1956 Pirates), Don Mattingly (1987 Yankees), and Ken Griffey Jr. (1993 Mariners) currently share the record for the longest home run-hitting streak, at eight games apiece.