The Minnesota Twins were a team on the way up, but they had some growing pains last year. I was high on them before the season, but they regressed and lost 103 games. There were numerous reasons for the rough season, but it was mostly due to their young players hitting a plateau in their development.
They need Bryon Buxton, Max Kepler and Jose Berrios to keep improving in order to avoid another lost season. They need them to step up as trade rumors will continue all season concerning Brian Dozier. They are sure to land a load of prospects in return for the power hitting middle infielder.
Here is the 2017 MLB season preview for the Minnesota Twins.
2016 Win/Loss Record: 59-103
Key Additions: C Jason Castro, RP Matt Belisle, RP Craig Breslow, SS Ehire Adrianza, C Chris Gimenez, 1B Ben Paulsen, OF J.B. Shuck, OF Drew Stubbs, SP Ryan Vogelsong & SP Nick Tepesch
Key Losses: 3B Trevor Plouffe, C Kurt Suzuki, C Juan Centeno, OF Logan Schafer, RP Tommy Milone & RP Pat Light
Interleague Schedule: NL West
Projected Starters: Jason Castro, Joe Mauer, Brian Dozier, Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler & Kennys Vargas
Projected Starting Rotation: Ervin Santana, Hector Santiago, Kyle Gibson, Jose Berrios & Tyler Duffey
Closer: Brandon Kintzler
Fantasy Sleeper: 1B/DH Byung Ho Park – Park had a really, really bad year last season. He came in as a former stud from the KBO, but failed to be able to hit Major League pitching. The Twins didn’t know what to do with him after he even failed to hit well in Triple-A. He is now a non-roster invitee during Spring Training. It’s quite possible that he could have a huge Spring and end up on the Major League roster. He hit 50+ homers in each of his last two years in Korea, so it’s not out of the question.
Prospect To Keep Your Eye On: SP Stephen Gonsalves – The Twins haven’t had much success lately with their homegrown pitching talent. Jose Berrios was once thought to be a ‘can’t miss’ prospect, but even he is struggling in the Majors. Gonsalves has a much different build than Berrios. The 6’5 lefty dominated in Double-A in 13 starts. He was 8-1 with a 1.82 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP. He even struck out 89 batters in 74 innings of work. He may start the year in Double-A again, and if he has the same success, he will move up to Triple-A after a few starts. I’m not sure how fast the Twins want to push Gonsalves through the upper-tier of the minors.
Team Analysis: The Twins made a huge jump in 2015. They had some of their farm system come up and show some life and ended up winning 83 games. I thought they would improve on that win total last season, but they fell on their faces early in the year.
Minnesota lost 103 games last year and didn’t do a ton to improve their big league roster this offseason. They are hoping their young talent will step up and bounce back. Byron Buxton is the player the Twins hope will improve the most. He was the former #1 overall prospect in baseball, but he has struggled mightily in the Majors. He has been called up and sent back down a few times, but there was a ray of hope in the month of September when he hit .277 and hit seven homers.
Another prospect I should mention is pitcher Jose Berrios. He had an 8.02 ERA in 14 starts after dominating in the minors. No one really expected him to struggle this bad. He never had an issue with control in the minors, but he was walking guys in the Majors at an insane rate. It’s nearly impossible for him to pitch worse, so expect better from him this season.
I expect the Twins to finish up somewhere in-between the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Everything went wrong last year and they will bounce back from rock bottom. Their starting rotation is good enough to get them through the dog days of Summer. They will be a middle-of-the-pack team in the AL Central this season.
2017 Wins Over/Under Betting Line: 74.5 (Prediction: OVER)
2017 Projected Win/Loss Record: 75-87 (3rd in AL Central)
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 Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.