AL Central - Cleveland Guardians, barely
We have reached the middle of the country. The American League East, despite its recent mediocrity, does have some teams with decently strong histories. The Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Guardians, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, and Minnesota Twins all play in the AL Central.
This division was actually one of the toughest. It wasn’t the toughest because a couple of teams were very close to the Cardinals, quite the opposite, actually; virtually none of the AL Central teams measure up to the success of the St. Louis Cardinals. For the first category, franchise success, only the Detroit Tigers are close in World Series appearances and titles (eleven and four, respectively). This alone makes the Tigers the winners of category one.
Category two was slightly more clear than category one for this particular division. The Cleveland Guardians have a franchise win percentage of .512, putting them the closest to the .520 that the Cardinals hold. Also, the Guardians edge out the Tigers, White Sox, and Twins for franchise victories. The Guardians have a total of thirty-five Hall of Famers, seven more than any other team in the division. The Guardians take category two.
Category three presented some problems; the White Sox have a similar payroll and roster construction (arbitration, pre-arb, extensions, and free agents) compared to the other teams. The Guardians are notorious for trading away players before they become too expensive, although they have shown an interest in signing players to extensions recently (Amed Rosario, for example). The Royals and Tigers have had poor organizational decisions in the recent past. The Twins present an interesting case. Their market size should allow them to spend money and garner a more talented team, but they haven’t done that in recent years.
All five teams have attendance counts at least 10,000 people fewer than the Cardinals, making this point moot. Kansas City and Cleveland’s markets are most comparable to St. Louis’s market. Taking all of these factors into account, the Cleveland Guardians narrowly take category three.