What a difference a year makes! After losing 103 games in 2016, the Minnesota Twins bounced back to win 85 in 2017 and nab the second Wild Card spot. While their postseason lasted just a single game, the Twins made massive strides, adding 26 wins in one year.
From worst to playoffs, the Twinkies made quite a jump and they’ll look to continue the strides forward in 2018. The team made some noticeable additions, bringing in more power in Logan Morrison, a dependable starter in Jake Odorizzi and beefing up the bullpen with several additions. The AL Central still runs through Cleveland, but one year removed from triple-digit losses, the Twins are best positioned to challenge the Indians in the division.
2017 Record: 85-77
2017 Moneyline Record: +11.48 Units
2017 Over/Under Total Record: 73-79-10
Current Odds To Win AL: +1632
Current Odds To Win AL Central: +395
Regular Season Win Total: 83.5
The Twins surprised a lot of people with how well they played in 2017. After such a terrible season in 2016, they were an after-thought early, but they kept winning.
By the trade deadline, the Twins looked like contenders for a Wild Card spot. They added Jaime Garcia and then, a week later turned an about-face and traded him and then-closer Brandon Kintzler, becoming sellers.
While most of baseball expected the team to fade, they pulled together instead and outlasted the rest of the competition for the second wild card spot. The toughness of this team was apparent and Paul Molitor should be lauded as the leader of this squad.
Molitor will have his boys back and ready for another strong campaign in 2018 and he has some extra reinforcements to help.
Offensively, Minnesota scored the fourth most runs in the American League and outscored every team in the AL after the All-Star break, including both the Yankees and Astros.
The offense was great, but the pitching is where this team was lacking. Ervin Santana had a strong season and Jose Berrios was a breakout starter, but the rest of the rotation struggled.
In 2018, the Twins will begin with Santana on the disabled list for a couple months recovering from finger surgery. That bumps Berrios up as the team’s ace. It also makes the acquisition of Jake Odorizzi that much more important.
Berrios has ace stuff. The 23-year old just needs to put it all together. He pitched to a 14-8 record with a 3.89 ERA and 1.229 WHIP in 145.2 innings in 2017. He’ll start the year in the majors and look to add a few more starts—and innings—while working a bit on improving his control.
Beyond Berrios, Odorizzi is a lead-average starter. He had a 100 ERA+ last year which would have put him third on the team in 2017 behind Berrios and Santana. Once Santana’s back, the top three are solid for Minnesota, but they’ll miss Santana for a couple months after he dominated to the tune of 16 wins, five complete games and a 3.28 ERA in 2017.
The Twins could add to the rotation before the start of the year, too, but given the current options, the final spots in the rotation will be filled by Kyle Gibson, Adalberto Mejia and Phil Hughes. A healthy Hughes could bring solid results in the back end while Gibson was good in the second half last year and has been an above average starter in the past. Mejia, however, is the key. The 24-year old was a rookie in 2017 and did reasonably well with a 4.50 ERA in 21 starts.
Backing up the rotation, the Twins really bulked up the bullpen, adding veteran late-inning arms in Fernando Rodney and Addison Reed while also picking up Zach Duke to add to Taylor Rogers and Trevor Hildenberger who stepped up last year.
The pitching will be better in 2018, particularly if Santana is able to make a speedy, and effective, recovery. The offense could be better, too.
Byron Buxton had a tale of two seasons last year as he was horrendous at the dish in the first couple months and on fire in the later part of the year. The talented centerfielder needs to find consistency, but his second half run gives hope.
The addition of Morrison also helps beef up the lineup. He hit 38 homers last year. With Morrison, Brian Dozier and Miguel Sano, the team has three players capable of hitting 30+ dingers. Meanwhile, Joe Mauer is coming off a .305 average and .384 OBP and Eddie Rosario produced a .290/.328/.507 slash line in 2017.
This offense will hit and the pitching is better on paper. The question is: how much better? Berrios and Mejia take steps forwards, Santana comes back and Odorizzi performs, the Twins could be an interesting team in the AL Central, but on paper, Minnesota is still the best of the rest behind Cleveland.
|Baltimore Orioles||Baltimore, Maryland||Oriole Park at Camden Yards|
|Boston Red Sox||Boston, Massachusetts||Fenway Park|
|New York Yankees||New York City, New York||Yankee Stadium|
|Tampa Bay Rays||St. Petersburg, Florida||Tropicana Field|
|Toronto Blue Jays||Toronto, Ontario||Rogers Centre|
|CENTRAL||Chicago White Sox||Chicago, Illinois||Guaranteed Rate Field|
|Cleveland Indians||Cleveland, Ohio||Progressive Field|
|Detroit Tigers||Detroit, Michigan||Comerica Park|
|Kansas City Royals||Kansas City, Missouri||Kauffman Stadium|
|Minnesota Twins||Minneapolis, Minnesota||Target Field|
|WEST||Houston Astros||Houston, Texas||Minute Maid Park|
|Los Angeles Angels||Anaheim, California||Angel Stadium|
|Oakland Athletics||Oakland, California||Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum|
|Seattle Mariners||Seattle, Washington||Safeco Field|
|Texas Rangers||Arlington, Texas||Globe Life Park in Arlington|
|EAST||Atlanta Braves||Atlanta, Georgia||SunTrust Park|
|Miami Marlins||Miami, Florida||Marlins Park|
|New York Mets||New York City, New York||Citi Field|
|Philadelphia Phillies||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||Citizens Bank Park|
|Washington Nationals||Washington, D.C.||Nationals Park|
|CENTRAL||Chicago Cubs||Chicago, Illinois||Wrigley Field|
|Cincinnati Reds||Cincinnati, Ohio||Great American Ball Park|
|Milwaukee Brewers||Milwaukee, Wisconsin||Miller Park|
|Pittsburgh Pirates||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania||PNC Park|
|St. Louis Cardinals||St. Louis, Missouri||Busch Stadium|
|WEST||Arizona Diamondbacks||Phoenix, Arizona||Chase Field|
|Colorado Rockies||Denver, Colorado||Coors Field|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||Los Angeles, California||Dodger Stadium|
|San Diego Padres||San Diego, California||Petco Park|
|San Francisco Giants||San Francisco, California||AT&T Park|
March 29-April 1: at Baltimore Orioles
April 2-4: at Pittsburgh Pirates
April 5-8: vs Seattle Mariners
April 9-11: vs Houston Astros
April 12-15: vs Chicago White Sox
April 17-18: vs Cleveland Indians
April 20-23: at Tampa Bay Rays
April 23-26: at New York Yankees
April 27-29: vs Cincinnati Reds
April 30-May 2: vs Toronto Blue Jays
The Twins start the season against the Orioles, the same team that swept them in 2016 while kicking off their downwards demise following a promising 2015. After a promising 2017, Baltimore makes an interesting Opening Series opponent in 2018. This Twins team, however, is much better than the 2016 model.
Including Baltimore, Minnesota has a pretty light schedule in the season’s opening month with series against the Pirates, White Sox, Rays and Reds. In the first 10 series of the year, they only play three teams that finished 2017 above-.500: the Astros, Indians and Yankees. They’ll hosts Houston and Cleveland and head to the Bronx to take on New York.The mid-April bout against Cleveland may the best most interesting opponent. Minnesota was 7-12 against Cleveland in 2017 and will have to fair better against the Tribe to close the gap in the standings. They were 1-5 against Houston and 2-4 against the Yankees.
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