American League Central Best Players of All Time

Kevin Smith

The American League Central is one of Major League Baseball’s six divisions and provides some of the most exciting baseball in the country. Comprised of five teams located in the Midwestern United States, this division was formed during realignment back in 1994 when three teams from the American League West were moved to join two others from the American League East. With strong rivalries between each team, every season brings intense competition for a chance at making it into post-season play. From Kansas City Royals to Detroit Tigers, Cleveland Indians to Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox – fans have plenty of reasons to root for their favorite side.

Table of Contents

1. José Ramírez

Cleveland Guardians

José Ramírez Career

  • 4× All-Star (2017, 2018, 2021, 2022), All-MLB Second Team (2020), 4× Silver Slugger Award (2017, 2018, 2020, 2022), 30–30 club (2018)

José Ramírez made his MLB debut for the Cleveland Indians in 2013. He is a third baseman and bats left-handed. Ramírez has played in 173 games over three seasons with the Indians, batting .

234 with 22 doubles, two triples, six home runs, 53 RBIs, and 24 stolen bases. On July 26th of this year, he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles as part of a package that also included Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer. 

Ramírez signed a four-year deal worth $26 million with the Orioles on August 1st José Ramírez is a two-time All-Star and four-time Silver Slugger Award winner with the Cleveland Indians.

He was drafted by the Indians in the sixth round of the 2007 MLB Draft and made his debut in 2009. Ramírez has been a key part of Cleveland's offense since being called up to the majors in 2013, batting .

279 with 1,155 hits and 192 home runs over six seasons with Cleveland before joining Guardians for the 2019 season. 

Ramirez led all American League hitters in stolen bases during the 2018 campaign while also ranking second on the team behind only Andrew Miller in strikeouts (158).

2. Emmanuel Clase

Cleveland Guardians

Emmanuel Clase Career

  • All-Star (2022), All-MLB First Team (2022), MLB saves leader (2022), Mariano Rivera AL Reliever of the Year (2022)

Emmanuel Clase is a 24-year old pitcher for the Cleveland Indians. He was drafted by Texas in the first round of the 2018 MLB Draft and made his debut with them this past season.

Emmanuel Clase has an impressive repertoire that includes a fastball, curveball, and changeup. His pitches are all rated as average or better by Baseball Prospectus and Fangraphs respectively.

Emmanuel Clase's biggest asset may be his ability to stay healthy; he has only missed 26 total games over 4 seasons in the MLB so far. 

Despite having an impressive rookie campaign, some fans are skeptical of whether or not Clase will live up to expectations moving forward due to questions about his mechanics and control.

Emmanuel Clase is a relief pitcher for the Texas Rangers. He has had a record of 9-12 and an ERA of 1.47 over the course of his career. Emmanuel Clase was named to the All-Star team in 2022, and he also earned First Team honors in that same year. 

One of Emmanuel Clase's most notable achievements is that he led all MLB relievers with 172 strikeouts in 2018.

In 2020, Emanuel Clase set a new MLB saves record with 67 saves - making him one of the top closers in baseball at this point in his career. As for awards, Emmanuel Clase has won AL Reliever of the Year twice (in 2022 and 2023).

3. Steven Kwan

Cleveland Guardians

Steven Kwan Career

  • Gold Glove Award (2022), Fielding Bible Award (2022)

Kwan was drafted by the Cleveland Guardians in the 22nd round of the 2018 MLB draft. He had a standout collegiate career at Stanford, batting .368 with 117 home runs and 419 RBIs in four seasons there.

Kwan made his professional debut with the Class A Lake County Captains in 2019, hitting .294/.362/.543 with 10 home runs and 36 RBIs in 67 games. 

After spending part of 2020 on loan to the Australian Baseball League's Melbourne Aces, Kwan made his Major League debut for Cleveland late that season and hit .281/.373/.433 with two home runs and six RBIs over 41 games.

Kwan was drafted in the first round of the 2022 MLB draft by the Cleveland Guardians. Kwan has had a very successful career in both college and professional baseball, earning numerous awards and accolades along the way. 

298 and he has hit 6 home runs so far this season with 52 RBIs. Kwan is an excellent fielder who has won several accolades for his athleticism on that side of the ball as well, including a Gold Glove Award in 2022.

4. Shane Bieber

Cleveland Guardians

Shane Bieber Career

  • 2× All-Star (2019, 2021), MLB All-Star Game MVP (2019), All-MLB First Team (2020), AL Cy Young Award (2020), Triple Crown (2020), AL wins leader (2020), AL ERA leader (2020), MLB strikeout leader (2020), Gold Glove Award (2022)

Shane Bieber was born on May 31, 1995 in Orange, California. He played baseball for his high school team before signing with the Cleveland Indians as a pitcher in 2018.

In his first MLB game, he pitched 8 innings and won against the Kansas City Royals. Shane Bieber has a 54-26 win-loss record in three seasons with Cleveland and is considered one of their key players moving forward into 2020 season.

Shane Bieber is currently signed to play with the Cleveland Guardians through 2022 season.
His fastball can reach up to 96 mph and he also throws a slider and curveball which make him difficult to hit off balance.

As an athlete himself, it's no wonder that Shane enjoys playing defense - he has great reflexes. He is a right-handed pitcher who was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the first round of the 2018 MLB draft. 

He made his debut with the team in 2019 and has been very successful, winning Rookie of The Year and MVP Awards that season. 

In 2020 he won the Triple Crown, becoming only the second player to do so (joining Ted Williams). Bieber has continued to be one of Cleveland's most important players throughout his career, amassing an impressive record and striking out a lot of hitters.

5. Carlos Santana

Kansas City Royals

Carlos Santana Career

  • All-Star (2019), Silver Slugger Award (2019)

Carlos Santana is a talented hitter and fielder who has played in the Majors for eight seasons. In 2010, he made his MLB debut with the Cleveland Indians and hit .242 with 27 home runs and 925 RBIs in 899 games.

Carlos Santana was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in December of 2018 and had an excellent season there, hitting .296 with 41 home runs and 1,191 RBIs. He is a switch-hitter who bats left-handed but throws right-handed.

Carlos Santana was born on April 8th, 1986 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic Carlos Santana is a talented all-around player who has spent his entire career with the Cleveland Indians. In 2018, he led the American League in batting average (.331) and home runs (37).

He was named to the All-Star team and won a Silver Slugger Award that same year. Carlos Santana is also known for his humanitarian work outside of baseball, which includes visits to children’s hospitals and other organizations assisting those in need.

His contract with the Cleveland Indians will expire at the end of the 2020 season, so fans are eager to see what he can do next.

Also Played For: seattle mariners, cleveland indians

6. Liam Hendriks

Chicago White Sox

Liam Hendriks Career

  • 3× All-Star (2019, 2021, 2022), 2× All-MLB First Team (2020, 2021), All-MLB Second Team (2019), AL saves leader (2021), 2× AL Reliever of the Year (2020, 2021)

Hendriks was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 3rd round of the 2009 MLB draft. Hendriks made his MLB debut with the Minnesota Twins in 2011 and has since been playing for Chicago White Sox.

In 2016, Hendriks had a successful season with Oakland Athletics where he posted a record of 31-34 and an ERA of 3.81 which earned him a spot on Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects list for that year.

Hendriks is known for his strong fastball which averages around 97 MPH and also throws a curveball, slider, and changeup as offspeed pitches to complement it. 

Hendricks has shown potential to be an effective starting pitcher in Major League Baseball but will need to continue improving if he wants to become one of the best players in the league Hendriks is a relief pitcher who has enjoyed success in the MLB.

Hendriks first gained acclaim for his stellar play with the Twins, where he made three all-star appearances and won two awards as an All-MLB First Team selection. 

He then moved on to Toronto where he continued to be one of the best relievers in baseball, winning another AL Reliever of the Year award during his tenure there. 

Hendriks now plays for the Chicago White Sox and is still considered one of the top pitchers in baseball by many analysts and fans alike.

Final Words

. . The American League Central is one of Major League Baseball’s six divisions and provides some of the best players in the league. Some of its best players include Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, and David Price.

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Kevin Smith

I am a dedicated learner who is constantly pursuing my dreams in many areas of life. I am a Finance major at the University of Maryland, a professional baseball player for the Toronto Blue Jays and the owner of my personal brand, Elevate Baseball. I hope to inspire younger learners of all sports and interests to tirelessly pursue their dreams, whatever that may be. LinkedIn

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