BEST-CASE SCENARIO: Edwin Encarnacion more than replaces Mike Napoli and the pitching staff stays healthy throughout, allowing the Indians to roll to a second-straight division title and back to the World Series.
WORST-CASE SCENARIO: Injuries to Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco linger and Corey Kluber’s enormous workload last year catches up to him, and the Indians fall back to the .500-level, third-place team they were in 2014-15.
NEXT FIRST-TIME ALL-STAR: OF Tyler Naquin
KANSAS CITY ROYALS
BEST-CASE SCENARIO: The offensive core of Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez all return to their previous form and an inspired Royals team makes an emotional playoff run in honor of Yordano Ventura.
WORST-CASE SCENARIO: Ventura’s tragic death makes an already-questionable rotation even less effective than last year’s group, the offense sputters again and the emotionally-drained squad suffers its first losing season since 2012, leading to a rebuild.
NEXT FIRST-TIME ALL-STAR: LHP Danny Duffy
BEST-CASE SCENARIO: Playing inspired for late owner Mike Illitch, the Tigers get bounce-back seasons from Anibal Sanchez, Justin Upton and Jordan Zimmermann and ride their veterans to the AL Central title.
WORST-CASE SCENARIO: The veteran group continues to decline with age, including falls from Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Ian Kinsler, and the Tigers are forced to sell off by the trade deadline and start over.
NEXT FIRST-TIME ALL-STAR: RHP Michael Fulmer
BEST-CASE SCENARIO: Miguel Sano, Max Kepler and Byron Buxton come of age to give the Twins one the game’s best young offensive cores and the starting pitching is respectable enough to post a winning record.
WORST-CASE SCENARIO: The pitching staff is again one of the worst in baseball, Brian Dozier regresses and kills his trade value, and the Twins’ young players continue to struggle making contact as they again post the worst record in the AL.
NEXT FIRST-TIME ALL-STAR: 3B Miguel Sano
CHICAGO WHITE SOX
BEST-CASE SCENARIO: Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez all fare much better in their second callups, making for a promising core with Jose Quintana, Carlos Rodon and Jose Abreu and showing the White Sox are closer to contending again than thought.
WORST-CASE SCENARIO: The youngsters again aren’t ready and the teardown is complete by the trade deadline, with Quintana, Abreu, Todd Frazier, David Robertson and Melky Cabrera sent away while the White Sox bottom out with a 100-loss season.
NEXT FIRST-TIME ALL-STAR: LHP Carlos Rodon