This is one of a series of posts in which I will be breaking down every team in baseball. I am by no means a credible source—merely a casual fan who knows a little about baseball and would like to share my observations.
Today we look at the Twins, whose biggest move of the offseason was dropping the pinstripes from their uniforms. A good start, but it’ll take more than that to bring the Twins back to relevance.
Projected Lineup: SS Danny Santana, 2B Brian Dozier, 1B Joe Mauer, DH Kennys Vargas, RF Torii Hunter*, 3B Trevor Plouffe, LF Oswaldo Arcia, C Kurt Suzuki, CF Aaron Hicks
Projected Rotation: RHP Phil Hughes, RHP Ervin Santana*, RHP Ricky Nolasco, RHP Kyle Gibson, LHP Tommy Milone
* new additions
Starting with the Twins’ very first pitch of the 2015 season, which will most likely turn into a tape-measure home run off the bat of Ian Kinsler, the only story this year will be counting down the days until prospects Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano are wearing red, blue and Kasota Gold.
All the signs are there that this is a throwaway season. Knowing the team won’t be any good, the front office signed Torii Hunter in the hopes of selling a few extra tickets to fans excited to see the human aging process in action.
But it’s not all bad news for the Twins.
Last season saw the emergence of several young players who could very well be the future for the club. Shortstop Danny Santana broke out big time, hitting .319/.353/.472 in 101 games while posting an OPS+ identical to that of the Brewers’ Carlos Gomez. It wouldn’t hurt the kid to take a few more walks, but Santana’s skills with the bat are real. He could be a star in the very near future.
Brian Dozier is another guy who should be a major part of the Twins’ future. As rare as second basemen with power are, finding one who can play above-average defense too is almost unheard of. And possibly even more important than the homers or the fancy glove work, Dozier knows how to take walks. His 89 free passes last year ranked third in the American League. That type of multi-faceted threat is someone the Twins need to hold on to for a while.
With Santana entering just his second year in the big leagues, and Dozier having just signed a four-year extension with the team, the Twins look to be set up the middle for a long time.
The starting rotation is where Minnesota needs help. The Twins’ 5.06 ERA from starting pitchers was the worst mark in baseball last year.
They attempted to help right the ship by signing Ervin Santana to a four-year deal this offseason. This was not a bad move by any means—Santana is a dependable veteran who throws quality games and generally stays healthy, but he won’t reverse the Twins’ pitching fortunes overnight.
So they may enlist the help of some other guys to help get them back to respectability.
Alex Meyer, a big, tall right-hander who lights up the radar gun, should graduate from the minors by midseason. He has the type of stuff to put up big strikeout numbers—in 27 starts last season in Triple-A, he averaged 10.6 K’s per nine innings. He’s definitely a part of the Twins’ long-term plan, and the sooner they can get him up to the big leagues to start paying dividends, the better.
Trevor May had a brief stint with the Twins last year, and he was terrible. But there’s still hope for the once-highly touted prospect. In 18 starts with Triple-A Rochester last year, he posted a 2.85 ERA with a 1.16 WHIP. I’m sure the organization will have no problem chalking up last year’s bump in the road to May adjusting to big league hitting, so expect him to get a chance this season to redeem himself.
It won’t be this season, but some mix of the names I’ve mentioned will elevate the Twins back into contention within a few years. For now, they’ll have to settle for last place in a very tough division.
Projected Finish: 73-89, Fifth place in AL Central