The American League Central Dream Lineup is led by the Detroit Tigers dynamic duo in the three and four holes. Each of the divisions five teams are represented.
1. Austin Jackson - 8 (CF) Detroit Tigers
Jackson was able to reduce his strikeout total and improve his O.B.P. in 2012 so that he could be considered for the leadoff slot. Jackson has a dangerous extra base hit bat, 29 doubles, 10 triples and 16 homers in 2012, at the top spot. He raised his walk total and his batting average by over 50 points to an even .300 last season. On the down side his stolen base percentage did drop precipitously last year, successful in only 12 of 21 attempts.
2. Joe Mauer- 2 (C) Minnesota Twins
The best quarterback in the state of Minnesota is a wonderful fit in the two hole in this offense. His .416 on base percentage led the American League last year as he hit .319. His 85 R.B.I. was an improvement over his 2010 and 2011 numbers and he managed to hit 10 home runs. Whether the dropoff is a result of injury or a lack of support in the lineup is yet to be determined, the Twins need Mauer to approach 2009’s slugging percentage of .587 for them to be successful.
3. Miguel Cabrera- 5 (3B) Detroit Tigers
Cabrera has taken the best hitter in baseball title away from Albert Pujols. How good is Cabrera? Over a nine and a half year career, 162 game averages of 34 homers, 120 R.B.I. with a lifetime batting average of .318 is historically great. Even if Mike Trout was your choice for A.L. M.V.P. in 2012, Cabrera led the league in so many metrics beside the Triple Crown categories, including slugging, O.P.S. and total bases.
4. Prince Fielder - 3 (1B) Detroit Tigers
The Tigers star first baseman is a complete hitter, he has power to all fields, drives in runs and hits for average. The three time Silver Slugger winner averages over 100 R.B.I. and 36 homers per 162 games. For a slugger, his low strikeout total of 84 in 2012 and robust lifetime .287 batting average are fantastic in the cleanup slot.
5. Paul Konerko D.H. Chicago White Sox
Primarily a first baseman on the South Side, 39 games as D.H. in 2012 qualifies Konerko for that role in the lineup. Konerko has been a consistent producer for the ChiSox since his arrival in 1999. His R.B.I. total dropped a bit in 2012, but he managed to club 26 bombs and his average stayed close to the .300 level. Konerko can be counted on to put up a 25 H.R - 90 R.B.I. - .285 average line year in and year out.
6. Nick Swisher - 9 (RF) Cleveland Indians
Swisher gets to prove whether the short porch of Yankee Stadium and the stacked Bomber lineup were the reasons for his success over the past four seasons. Swisher’s numbers from 2009-2012 were not inconsistent with his career numbers, so he should do well in Cleveland. He probably won’t have to worry about the playoff Kryptonite chain he seemed to wear every October in the Bronx.
7. Alex Gordon- 7 (LF) Kansas City Royals
Gordon was inserted into the leadoff slot early in 2012 and he responded with a fine season, leading the league in doubles with 51. He seems to have risen above the potential bust tag that loomed over him by posting two consecutive good years, averaging .301 in 2011 and .294 in 2012. The former third baseman has won two consecutive gold gloves, so he adds to our team defense.
8. Asdrubal Cabrera - 6 (SS) Cleveland Indians
The 2011 Silver Slugger is a solid producer at a premium defensive position for the Tribe. Following his career year in 20011, he put up solid numbers in 2012 slugging .423 with 16 home runs and 68 R.B.I.
9. Omar Infante- 4(2B) Detroit Tigers
Following a mid season trade from Miami, Infante trailed off in 2012. Despite that, he is the class of the weak A.L. Central second sackers. Infante is a solid, if unspectacular, player who has seen time at all then infield positions except first and all three outfield spots in his career. In 588 at bats in 2012 Infante hit 12 home runs and stole 17 bases.