The 2011 season signaled a changing of the guard in the American League Central. The Minnesota Twins, who had risen above injuries, deficiencies and many other things so many times in the past decade, went from a 94-win team in 2010 to a 99-loss team in 2011.
Meanwhile, the Detroit Tigers completed their climb from the bottom of the league in 2003 to capture their first division title since 1987.
Even the usual bottom feeder of the AL Central, the Kansas City Royals, are starting to put together a team that looks like it can contend within the next couple of seasons.
Simply put, we're in a new AL Central now.
It remains to be seen whether the Cleveland Indians can finish what they started last year, whether the Chicago White Sox can avoid a drop-off while rebuilding, and whether the Twins can steal healthy enough to get back into the race.
Prior to the addition this year of a fifth playoff team, the AL Central didn't have the best baseball, but teams in the division made it interesting. In 2008 and 2009, AL Central teams competed in Game 163s that were filled with drama and competitiveness.
That's been a tradition in the AL Central recently. We should not expect anything less in 2012.