The AL West is the only other division projected to be that close. Royals fans won't be thrilled with a 79-83 record after back-to-back pennants, but the computer models weren't kind to them a year ago, either.
But what almost no one will dispute is that the teams behind the Royals got better while Kansas City said goodbye to some important players. They were prepared for this. They believe they can sustain success only with a productive farm system, which means there will be change.
So let's line 'em up -- five teams, five favorites -- as we count down to Spring Training:
Key additions: Mike Napoli, a potential Gold Glover at first and a guy with an .837 career OPS. For a club that was 18th in runs scored last season, he's a solid addition. With a full season of shortstop Francisco Lindor and third baseman Giovanny Urshela, the Indians are excited about the possibilities.
Strengths: Pitching, pitching, pitching. Cleveland's rotation was fourth in the AL in ERA (3.94) and third in innings (979 1/3). The Indians have so much pitching depth that they toyed with the idea of trading a starter to add a bat.
Questions: A slow start (10-19) again put the Indians in a deep hole from which they were unable to recover, and that will be one of the focuses of Terry Francona's spring message.
Path to October: This is the easy part. The Indians have the kind of rotation that can control a division race, and those kids will add energy and production. Could be a fun baseball summer in Cleveland.
Questions: How do the offensive pieces fit? Does Adam LaRoche have another productive season in him? Will this finally be the breakout season long expected of Avisail Garcia? Adding Frazier and Lawrie to the lineup should help everyone.
Path to October: If you look at the White Sox a certain way, it's easy to see them winning this division. It means nice seasons from Melky Cabrera and Adam Eaton. It means LaRoche having a bounce-back year. And it means keeping Sale, Rodon, etc., healthy.
Strength: Still the big guys in the middle of the order: Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez. If they stay healthy, the Tigers almost certainly will score enough runs. And suddenly the bullpen looks pretty darn solid.
Strength: GM Terry Ryan has methodically assembled a solid starting rotation. Glen Perkins emerged as a first-rate closer. Miguel Sano could hardly have been more impressive in his first season.
Questions: Depth of the rotation and bullpen. Seeing how the new and old lineup come together.
Path to October: Two of baseball's most highly regarded youngsters -- Byron Buxton and Sano -- have a chance to usher in the next great chapter of Twins baseball. If they live up to expectations, the Twins could have one of those shock-the-world seasons. It wouldn't be their first.
Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.