Bill Lankhof's AL Central preview

Starting pitcher James Shields joined the Kansas City Royals in the off-season. (REUTERS)

Starting pitcher James Shields joined the Kansas City Royals in the off-season. (REUTERS)

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:23 PM ET

Denizens of the Central Division have traditionally been bullied, ridiculed and pretty much had their lights punched out.

Detroit might have gone to the World Series last year but had they been in the West Division they’d have finished fourth and saved themselves a trip to San Francisco.

From the sad-sack Twins, to a Kansas City franchise that never seemed to get beyond having super prospects, to the ever under-achieving Indians, this corner of the sandlot has been Major League Baseball’s version of purgatory.

It’s 10 years since the Royals were better than .500. It’s 28 years since they played in the post-season.

In Cleveland, new manager Terry Francona is working to turn around a franchise that has been in decline since losing the 2007 ALCS.

This spring, while the Tigers are still the Cadillac of this division, the neighbourhood is sprucing up nicely.

The Royals’ stockpile of young talent, including Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer and A


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