2016 MLB Season Preview: Minnesota Twins

Byung-Ho-Park-Minnesota-Twins-2016-season-preview-MLB-americas-white-boyThe Minnesota Twins are a team on the way up in Major League Baseball. They have young talents that are maturing into stars. Prospect Byron Buxton was actually ranked ahead of Kris Bryant coming into the season last year. He has all the tools and should develop into a really good player for the Twins.

The Twins were only expected to win around 70 games last season, but finished with a 83-79 record. They come into the season with just about the same roster. They added some power by signing Byung Ho Park, who hit over 50 homers in each of the last two seasons in the KBO. Can his success in Korea translate to the Majors?

The Twins aren’t too far away from being a legit pennant contender in the American League. Could they win the AL Central this season?

Here is the 2016 MLB season preview for the Minnesota Twins.

2015 Win/Loss Record: 83-79

Key Additions: 1B Byung Ho-Park, RP Fernando Abad, OF Carlos Quentin, C John Ryan Murphy & C John Hicks

Key Losses: OF Torrii Hunter, OF Aaron Hicks, SP Mike Pelfrey, RP Brian Duensing, RP Blaine Boyer, RP Neal Cotts, OF Shane Robinson, C Chris Herrmann & RP A.J. Achter

Interleague Schedule: NL East

Projected Starters: Kurt Suzuki, Joe Mauer, Brian Dozier, Trevor Plouffe, Eduardo Escobar, Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler & Byung Ho Parl

Projected Starting Rotation: Phil Hughes, Ervin Santana, Kyle Gibson, Tyler Duffey & Tommy Milone

Closer: Glen Perkins

Fantasy SleeperOF Oswaldo Arcia – Arcia looked like a future cornerstone for the Twins in the outfield after the 2014 season. He hit 20 homers in 372 at-bats, but had some work to do on his average. He was injured in early 2015 and with the influx of young outfield talent, Arcia found himself stuck in the minors the rest of the season. He didn’t do much down there, but with Aaron Hicks gone, the Twins need some power from their outfield. Buxton could hit double-digit homers, but Max Kepler doesn’t have much power. If Arcia shows he still has power, they can stick him in leftfield and could still hit around .240, and will still keep his job. He could be cheap power in your fantasy lineup.

Prospect To Keep Your Eye OnSP Jose Berrios – The Twins have had some young arms in the minors that haven’t panned out recently. It’s been a slow process with Alex Meyer for a long time. Jose Berrios has been in the Twins farm system since 2012 and they’ve slowly worked him through their farm system. He was excellent last season in both Double-A and Triple-A. He had 27 starts between levels and was 14-5 with an ERA under 3.00. He’s not a big guy (6’0/185 lbs), but has enough ‘stuff’ to strike out over a batter an inning.

Team Analysis: While Houston and the Chicago Cubs were amassing top farm systems through the draft, the Minnesota Twins were right behind them doing the same. They built their talent up while also putting together a decent Major League roster. They haven’t been to the postseason since 2010, but a six-year turnaround for a rebuild isn’t too shabby these days.

The Twins cracked the .500 mark last season and saw some of their top prospects debut in the Majors. Byron Buxton is their blue-chipper, but Miguel Sano and Tyler Duffey have looked great in their young careers as well.

The AL Central has produced the last few American League participants in the Worls Series. The Twins would need to make a huge leap if they were to make it this year, but I do see them hanging in the race for a long time this year. If the former KBO power hitter Byung Ho-Park can have the same success he had in Korea, maybe the Twins would have a shot at the division.

The Twins are a good team with a lot of upside. They do need a few starting pitchers to step up and possibly make a run at the #1 spot on their rotation. If they get solid pitching from their starters, their bullpen should hold leads. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Twins were a Cinderella team in the American League, but it might be a year too early to start thinking about the playoffs.

2016 Wins Over/Under Betting Line: 79 (Prediction: OVER)

2016 Projected Win/Loss Record: 81-81 (3rd in AL Central)

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sweetbob-author-picAbout the Author…

Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot ClicksGuyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.

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