American League Central

The American League Central is one of six divisions in Major League Baseball. This division was formed in the realignment of 1994, and its teams are all located in the Midwestern United States. The Central is currently the only division in the Major Leagues in which all of its members have won a World Series title. In fact, each team has captured at least two World Series championships.

AL Central
LeagueAmerican League
SportMajor League Baseball
Founded1994
Teams
No. of teams5
Championships
Most recent AL Central champion(s)Cleveland Indians
(10th title)
Most AL Central titlesCleveland Indians (10)

Division membership

Current members

Former member

Membership timeline

Place cursor over year for division champ or World Series team.

Years
AL Central Division[A]
94 95 96 97 98 99 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Chicago White Sox
Cleveland Indians
Kansas City Royals
Minnesota Twins
Milwaukee Brewers[B]  
  Detroit Tigers[B]
     Team not in division      Division won World Series      Division won AL Championship
A The Chicago White Sox, Kansas City Royals, and Minnesota Twins came from the AL West, and the Cleveland Indians and Milwaukee Brewers from the AL East.
B Due to expansion in 1998 and the placement of the new Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the AL East, the Tigers moved to the Central. To give each league an even number of teams, the Brewers moved to the NL Central.

Champions by year

The Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals are the only teams from the AL Central division to have won the World Series since the league realignment in 1994.

  • Team names link to the season in which each team played
Year Winner Record % Playoff finish
1994§ No playoffs due to 1994–95 Major League Baseball strike
1995 Cleveland Indians 100–44 .694 Lost World Series to Atlanta, 4–2
1996 Cleveland Indians 99–62 .615 Lost ALDS to Baltimore, 3–1
1997 Cleveland Indians 86–75 .534 Lost World Series to Florida, 4–3
1998 Cleveland Indians 89–73 .549 Lost ALCS to New York (AL), 4–2
1999 Cleveland Indians 97–65 .599 Lost ALDS to Boston, 3–2
2000 Chicago White Sox 95–67 .586 Lost ALDS to Seattle, 3–0
2001 Cleveland Indians 91–71 .562 Lost ALDS to Seattle, 3–2
2002 Minnesota Twins 94–67 .584 Lost ALCS to Anaheim, 4–1
2003 Minnesota Twins 90–72 .556 Lost ALDS to New York (AL), 3–1
2004 Minnesota Twins 92–70 .568 Lost ALDS to New York (AL), 3–1
2005 Chicago White Sox 99–63 .611 Won World Series over Houston, 4–0
2006 Minnesota Twins 96–66 .593 Lost ALDS to Oakland, 3–0
2007 Cleveland Indians 96–66 .593 Lost ALCS to Boston 4–3
2008 Chicago White Sox ** 89–74 .546 Lost ALDS to Tampa Bay 3–1
2009 Minnesota Twins # 87–76 .534 Lost ALDS to New York (AL), 3–0
2010 Minnesota Twins 94–68 .580 Lost ALDS to New York (AL), 3–0
2011 Detroit Tigers 95–67 .586 Lost ALCS to Texas, 4–2
2012 Detroit Tigers 88–74 .543 Lost World Series to San Francisco, 4–0
2013 Detroit Tigers 93–69 .574 Lost ALCS to Boston, 4–2
2014 Detroit Tigers 90–72 .556 Lost ALDS to Baltimore, 3–0
2015 Kansas City Royals 95–67 .586 Won World Series over New York (NL), 4–1
2016 Cleveland Indians 94–67 .584 Lost World Series to Chicago (NL), 4–3
2017 Cleveland Indians 102–60 .630 Lost ALDS to New York (AL), 3–2
2018 Cleveland Indians 91–71 .562 Lost ALDS to Houston 3–0

* Due to the 1994 Major League Baseball strike starting August 12, no winner was determined. The Chicago White Sox were leading at the time that the strike began.

** In 2008, the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox finished the season with the identical records of 88–74. The White Sox won the one-game playoff 1–0.

# In 2009, the Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers finished the season with identical records of 86–76. The Twins won the one-game playoff 6–5 in 12 innings.

Wild-card winners produced

In 1994, the Cleveland Indians were sitting atop the wild-card standings and would have qualified for the postseason as the AL's first wild card but on August 12 of that year, the season came to an early end due to a players strike, cancelling the remainder of the regular season and postseason. The 2006 Detroit Tigers were the first team from the Central to qualify as the wild card. MLB revamped the postseason starting in 2012, creating a new single-game playoff where two wildcards competed against each other while the division winners each received a bye. The winner of the American League wild card game moves on to face the top-seeded team of the AL in the American League Division Series. In 2013, the Indians became the first team from the AL Central to qualify as a wild card under the new postseason format. In 2014, the Kansas City Royals ended a 29-year postseason drought returning to the playoffs for the first time since winning the World Series in 1985.

Year Winner Record % GB Playoffs
2006 Detroit Tigers 95–67 .586 1 Lost World Series to St. Louis, 4–1
2013 Cleveland Indians 92–70 .568 1 Lost ALWC to Tampa Bay
2014 Kansas City Royals 89–73 .549 1 Lost World Series to San Francisco, 4–3
2017 Minnesota Twins 85–77 .525 17 Lost ALWC to New York (AL)

Division championships won by team

Team Championships Last year won Year(s)
Cleveland Indians 10 2018 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2007, 2016, 2017, 2018
Minnesota Twins 6 2010 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2010
Detroit Tigers 4 2014 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Chicago White Sox 3 2008 2000, 2005, 2008
Kansas City Royals 1 2015 2015
Milwaukee Brewers 0 N/A N/A

Current division members in bold

See also

References

1994 Kansas City Royals season

The 1994 Kansas City Royals season was a season in American baseball. It involved the Royals finishing 3rd in the American League Central with a record of 64 wins and 51 losses. The season was cut short by the 1994 player's strike. The season marked the Royals' alignment into the new American League Central division.

1995 Kansas City Royals season

The 1995 Kansas City Royals season was a season in American baseball. During this season, the Royals finished second in the American League Central, with a record of 70 wins and 74 losses. This was the first of 17 losing seasons the Royals would suffer through 2012.

Although the 1995 Royals had a losing record and finished 30 games behind the Cleveland Indians, the second-place division finish in 1995 was the highest finish for the franchise in the American League Central from 1994, when the Royals joined that division, until the 2014 team also finished second and the 2015 team won the franchise's first Central Division championship.

1997 Cleveland Indians season

The 1997 Cleveland Indians season was a season in American baseball. It involved the Indians making their second World Series appearance in three years. The Indians finished in first place in the American League Central and hosted the 1997 Major League Baseball All-Star Game.

1998 Cleveland Indians season

The 1998 Cleveland Indians season was the franchise's 98th season. The Indians hoped to improve upon their American League pennant-winning season of 1997, but succumbed to the New York Yankees in the ALCS in six games. The Indians would lead the AL Central wire-to-wire in 1998, becoming the first team in franchise history (and as of 2017, the only team in franchise history) to do so.

1998 Major League Baseball season

The 1998 Major League Baseball season ended with the New York Yankees sweeping the San Diego Padres in the World Series, after they had won a then AL record 114 regular season games. The Yankees finished with 125 wins for the season (regular season and playoffs combined), which remains the MLB record.

The 1998 season was also marked by an expansion to 30 teams (16 in the NL, 14 in the AL), with two new teams–the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League, and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the American League–added to the MLB. To keep the leagues with even numbers of teams while allowing both leagues to have a new team, the Milwaukee Brewers were moved from the American League Central Division to the National League Central Division. The Detroit Tigers were shifted from the American League East to the American League Central, while the Devil Rays were added to the American League East. The Diamondbacks were added to the National League West, making the NL have more teams than the AL for the first time.

The biggest story of the season was the historic chase of the single-season home run record held at the time by Roger Maris. Initially, the St. Louis Cardinals' Mark McGwire and Ken Griffey, Jr. of the Seattle Mariners started the season on a pace to both break Maris' record. In June, the chase was joined by the Chicago Cubs' Sammy Sosa, who broke the decades-old record of Rudy York for most home runs in a calendar month with 20 that month. Eventually, Griffey fell off the record pace, but still ended with 56 homers. Both McGwire and Sosa broke the record in September, with McGwire ultimately finishing with 70 homers to Sosa's 66. McGwire's record would last only three years, with Barry Bonds hitting 73 in 2001. The 1998 season was also the first in MLB history with four players hitting 50 or more homers, with Greg Vaughn of the San Diego Padres hitting 50. In a postscript to the record chase, both McGwire and Sosa have since been widely accused of having used performance-enhancing drugs during that period, and McGwire would admit in 2010 that he had used steroids during the record-setting season.The defending World Series champions Florida Marlins finished last in the NL East Division at 54-108, making it the first, and only, time that a team went from winning the World Series one year to finishing with 100 or more losses and last in their division the following year.

2000 Chicago White Sox season

The 2000 Chicago White Sox season was the White Sox's 101st season. They finished with a record 95-67, good enough for first place in the American League Central, 5 games ahead the second place Cleveland Indians.

2002 Minnesota Twins season

After facing contraction talks at the previous winter meeting, and coming out of a second-place finish in the AL Central with a pitching staff with only two players with an ERA under 4.0, the 2002 Minnesota Twins won their division and made it to the 2002 American League Championship Series (ALCS) with the youngest team in the league, and with a new manager, Ron Gardenhire. The Twins had a solid first half of the season (45–36), but had a better second half (49–31), which led them to being the division champions.

2003 Minnesota Twins season

After winning the American League Central Division in 2002, the 2003 Minnesota Twins were looking to repeat division titles for the first time since 1969 and 1970. A spark for the team was the July trade of Bobby Kielty for Shannon Stewart. Stewart provided a veteran presence at the top of the lineup that the team had previously lacked. The team met its goal of reaching the playoffs, but once again fell short in the postseason. The Twins lost in four games to the New York Yankees during the AL Division Series. 2003 would be the last year several key players played with the team.

2004 Minnesota Twins season

The 2004 Minnesota Twins met their goal of three-peating as American League Central Division champions. The team was able to do this in spite of several new players and the absence of three former all-stars. Closer Eddie Guardado, set-up man LaTroy Hawkins, starter Eric Milton, and catcher A. J. Pierzynski had all been dealt prior to the beginning of the season, while first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz was traded midway through the season. The season had both highs – such as Johan Santana winning the Cy Young Award – and lows, such as highly anticipated rookie catcher Joe Mauer injuring his knee and playing for only 35 games. For the second year in a row, the team was not able to carry its regular season success into the post-season. The New York Yankees eliminated the Twins for the second year in a row in four games in the 2004 American League Division Series.

2008 American League Central tie-breaker game

The 2008 American League Central tie-breaker game, commonly known as the Blackout Game, was a one-game extension to Major League Baseball's (MLB) 2008 regular season, played between the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins to determine the champion of the American League's (AL) Central Division. It was played at US Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois, on September 30, 2008. The White Sox won the game, 1–0, on a home run by Jim Thome, the lowest-scoring game in MLB tie-breaker history. The Sox advanced to the 2008 AL Division Series, where they lost to the Tampa Bay Rays, 3 games to 1; the Twins failed to qualify for the postseason.

The game was necessary after both teams finished the season with identical win–loss records of 88–74. The White Sox won a coin flip late in the season which, by rule, awarded them home field in the game. The tie-breaker counted as the 163rd regular season game by both teams, with all events in the game added to regular season statistics.

2009 American League Central tie-breaker game

The 2009 American League Central tie-breaker game was a one-game extension to Major League Baseball's (MLB) 2009 regular season, played between the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins to determine the champion of the American League's (AL) Central Division. It was played at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on October 6, 2009. The Twins won the game 6–5 in extra innings and advanced to the 2009 AL Division Series where they were swept by the New York Yankees; the Tigers failed to qualify for the postseason.

A tie-breaker was necessary after both teams finished the season with identical win–loss records of 86–76. The Twins, who had won the regular season series against the Tigers, 11 games to 7, were thus awarded home field due to a rules change prior to the 2009 season. It was the third tie-breaker played in MLB from 2007–2009. It was also the second consecutive tiebreaker for the AL Central title after 2008, when the Chicago White Sox defeated the Twins to win the division. The Twins became the first (and, as of 2018, only) MLB team to contest tie-breaker games of any sort (divisional and/or wild card) in consecutive seasons. The tie-breaker is counted as the 163rd regular season game played by both teams and all events in the game are added to regular season statistics. This was the Twins' final regular season game at the Metrodome as the team moved to Target Field for the 2010 season. The tie-breaker was later named the Best Regular-Season Game of the Decade by Sports Illustrated.

2014 Detroit Tigers season

The 2014 Detroit Tigers season was the team's 114th season. This was the team's first year under a mostly new coaching staff led by rookie Manager Brad Ausmus. On September 28, the last day of the regular season, the Tigers clinched the American League Central title with a 3–0 win over the Minnesota Twins. The Tigers finished one game ahead of the Kansas City Royals, with a 90–72 record. It was their fourth consecutive American League Central title. They became the first AL Central team to win four consecutive titles since the Cleveland Indians won five straight from 1995 to 1999, and the first Tigers team to ever make four consecutive postseason appearances. Despite all of this, the Tigers' season ended on October 5 when they were swept by the Baltimore Orioles in the American League Division Series. This snapped Detroit's streak of three consecutive American League Championship Series appearances.

2016 Cleveland Indians season

The 2016 Cleveland Indians season was the 116th season for the franchise and the 23rd season at Progressive Field. The Indians won the American League Central Division for the first time since 2007 and also beat the Boston Red Sox in the Division Series for their first playoff win in nine years. They defeated the Toronto Blue Jays in five games in the American League Championship Series before losing to the Chicago Cubs in seven games in the 2016 World Series. This was their first appearance in the World Series since 1997.

2017 Cleveland Indians season

The 2017 Cleveland Indians season was the 117th season for the franchise. It was the fifth season under the leadership of manager Terry Francona and second under general manager Mike Chernoff. The team entered as the defending American League champion and World Series runner-up. The Indians played all of their home games at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio.

On September 13, the Cleveland Indians won their 21st game in a row, surpassing the 2002 Oakland Athletics for the longest winning streak in American League history and tying the 1880 Chicago White Stockings and the 1935 Chicago Cubs for the second longest winning streak in Major League Baseball history. Their win streak reached 22 games on September 14, giving the Indians the longest winning streak in Major League Baseball since the 1916 New York Giants who own the all-time record with 26 straight without a loss. On September 15, the 22-game win streak ended in a 4–3 loss to the Kansas City Royals.

The Indians finished the season with a record of 102–60, the best record in the American League. They won their second straight American League Central title but were upset by the New York Yankees in five games in the American League Division Series.

2018 Cleveland Indians season

The 2018 Cleveland Indians season was the 118th season for the franchise. It was the sixth season under the leadership of manager Terry Francona and third under general manager Mike Chernoff. The Indians played all of their home games at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio. This was the last season in which the Indians logo Chief Wahoo was used on uniforms or on stadium signs. They won their third straight American League Central title before being swept by the defending World Series champion Houston Astros in the 2018 American League Division Series. Due to the Indians losing to the Astros, the Indians became the 5th team in MLB history to have a 70 year title drought.

2019 Cleveland Indians season

The 2019 Cleveland Indians season will be the 119th season for the franchise. It is the seventh season under the leadership of manager Terry Francona and fourth under general manager Mike Chernoff. The Indians play all of their home games at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio.

American League

The American League of Professional Baseball Clubs, or simply the American League (AL), is one of two leagues that make up Major League Baseball (MLB) in the United States and Canada. It developed from the Western League, a minor league based in the Great Lakes states, which eventually aspired to major league status. It is sometimes called the Junior Circuit because it claimed Major League status for the 1901 season, 25 years after the formation of the National League (the "Senior Circuit").

At the end of every season, the American League champion plays in the World Series against the National League champion; two seasons did not end in playing a World Series (1904, when the National League champion New York Giants refused to play their AL counterpart, and 1994, when a players' strike prevented the Series). Through 2018, American League teams have won 66 of the 114 World Series played since 1903, with 27 of those coming from the New York Yankees alone. The New York Yankees have won 40 American League titles, the most in the league's history, followed by the Philadelphia/Kansas City/Oakland Athletics (15) and the Boston Red Sox (14).

National League Central

The National League Central is one of Major League Baseball's six divisions. This division was created in 1994, by moving two teams from the National League West (the Cincinnati Reds and the Houston Astros) and three teams from the National League East (the Chicago Cubs, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the St. Louis Cardinals).

When the division was created in 1994, the Pirates were originally supposed to stay in the East while the Atlanta Braves were to be moved to the Central from the West. However, the Braves, wanting to form a natural rivalry with the expansion Florida Marlins, requested to be moved to the East instead. Despite the Marlins offering to go to the Central, the Pirates instead gave up their spot in the East to the Braves. Since then, the Pirates have tried several times unsuccessfully to be placed back in the East.In 1998, the NL Central became the largest division in Major League Baseball when the Milwaukee Brewers were moved in from the American League Central. In 2013, the Astros moved to the American League West.

This division has been dominated by the Cardinals, who have accounted for ten of the 23 division championships, plus three wild card wins. Aside from the Cardinals, the Cubs have the second most division championships with five, as well as two wild card wins. The Astros have four division titles and two wild card wins. The Reds have three division titles, along with one wild card win. The Brewers have two divisional championships, with one wild card win. The Pirates have not won the division since the division was created, but possesses three wild card wins. The 2013 win was the Pirates first playoff berth since 1992.

White Flag Trade

The White Flag Trade was a trade made between two Major League Baseball teams in 1997. On July 31, 1997, the Chicago White Sox traded three major players to the San Francisco Giants for six minor leaguers. At the time, the trade was maligned by the vast majority of White Sox fans as Jerry Reinsdorf giving up on the team, as they were only ​3 1⁄2 games behind the Cleveland Indians for the American League Central Division lead. "Anyone who thinks we can catch Cleveland is crazy," stated Reinsdorf. In 2000, however, the White Sox won the Central Division title, receiving large contributions from two of the players received in this trade (Keith Foulke and Bob Howry).

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