2018 Minnesota Twins Season Preview

The Minnesota Twins have a chance to be a fascinating team in 2018. With big time depth acquisitions to bolster their entire roster, they seem poised for a possible wildcard birth. They have a good mix of speed, power and the ability to get on base and while they probably don’t have a .300 hitter in their lineup, they are surely effective. Their staff adds two big pieces to a rotation that was iffy last season during there 85 Win campaign. The Twins, similar to the Angels, are a confusing team that could have ups and downs.

Key Additions:

Logan Morrison, 1B/OF

Lance Lynn, RHP

Jake Odorizzi, RHP

Michael Pineda, RHP

Key Losses:

Matt Belisle, RHP

Glen Perkins, LHP

Why they can win: They are the only team in the AL Central who can compete with the Indians, they won 85 last year and they’re better this year. They added power, and better pitching to a below average staff and bullpen a year ago. They have starters who can eat innings and if Byron Buxton finally pans out and guys do what their projections say, they’ll have a very good chance at making the playoffs.

Why they can lose: They can lose because they still seem like they have a ton of question marks on the roster. Will all these guys who got them 85 wins last year perform at the same rate? Can Joe Mauer sustain another 162? Will Miguel Sano strikeout 200 times? They’re a good team but they have the build of a team that could possibly be a let down.

Bottom Line: They’ll fight for a playoff spot. Good depth and quality inning eaters will go a long way. A lot depends on Byron Buxton because as Buxton goes, so goes the Twinkies. I could see them in the 85-89 Win range and be in a dog fight til the end with the Red Sox and Angels. It will be a fun team to watch build after losing 100+ games two years ago.

Major4 Numbers Game:

Stud: Brian Dozier, 2B

Dozier is one of the most underrated stars in baseball. He has 78 homeruns over the last two years, while averaging 105 runs and 17 SBs and contributed 10.6 WAR. One of the keys to Dozier’s success and consistency has been his ability to hit the ball hard, while avoiding soft-contact (15%). The Twins bought low after Dozier’s 2014 breakout season with a team friendly 4/$20M contract. As a result, he has played to a value of over $80M while earning only $9M over the last two seasons. The Twins have one of the best post-arbitration contracts on their roster, I still don’t know why he was ever in trade talks this offseason when they are trying to compete for a playoff spot.

Sinkhole: Fernando Rodney, CL

Rodney had a very respectable 2017 posting a 1.4 WAR, converting 39/45 save opportunities. He turns 41, but still has the ability to miss bats (28.1 K%) and has above average velocity. The drawbacks are: his control is horrible (>10 BB% each of the last three years), and his HR/FB rate was an extremely low 7%. Looking at his batted ball profile, he rarely induces soft-contact, and in a spacious stadium like Target Field those line drives and hard hit balls will find the big gaps in the outfield. He’s not a bad pitcher, he’s just due to regress and he’s not even close to the best reliever on the staff.

Regressions Candidate: Logan Morrison, DH

Lomo hit 38 HRs and posted a robust 130 wRC+ on his way to posting a stellar 3.3 WAR. He joined the fly-ball revolution (46% of contact were fly-balls), which caused an increase to a career-high in K%, but his highest BB% in 5 years. The reason for our skepticism is due to his extremely high 22.5% HR/FB rate, and his wRC+ dropped from 143 down to 112 in the second half the season. Batting at Target Field isn’t going to aid Morrison’s power numbers. It seems like many MLB teams aren’t buying into his breakout as he was still unsigned in February until the Twins scooped him up for $6.5M. Hot Take: Lomo will have his WAR cut in half and he hits under 25 HRs.

Impact Acquisition: Lance Lynn, SP

Lynn picked a bad time to hit the free agent market. After posting no lower than a 2.8 WAR in his first four seasons, Lynn’s 1.4 WAR season while coming off TJ hurt his value. His walk and strikeout rates were at a career worst, but he couldn’t find a feel for his breaking ball, which we assume is due to the time off in 2016. His 1/$12M seems like a solid buy low contract as his stuff and command continue to get back to his career norms.

Major4 Prospects, (Top 100):

Royce Lewis, SS (20)

Fernando Romero, RHP (68)

Stephen Gonsalves, LHP (78)

Nick Gordon, 2B (80)

Why We Love Them: This might be the funniest team since Little Big League. They have fun prospects, a new and improved rotation, a lineup that scores a lot of runs and an awesome stadium. They’ll fly under the radar because they play in Minnesota but this is a very likable team in 2018.

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