It’s that time of year again when sports publications and sports pages unveil their predictions for major league baseball. And many have praised the Twins for getting better in the offseason, but it’s still not enough, they say, to challenge the Cleveland Indians for the top spot in the American League Central. In other words, most prognosticators have the Twins finishing solidly in second place in the division in 2018.
As for me, I think the Twins have done enough during the offseason and will challenge the Tribe for the AL Central lead. The Twins added depth to the rotation, the bullpen and inserted Logan Morrison and his 38 home runs into the middle of the order. The team is still young, but has gained more experience, which should help Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Eddie Rosario, Max Kepler and pitcher Jose Berrios. Sano, too, can focus on baseball again after MLB found insufficient evidence to discipline the third baseman for the alleged sexual assault of a female photographer.
Other predictions for the Twins this season:
-Bleacher Report: 86-76. “The only other team in the division with even a chance of contending is the Twins, who surprised more than a few people by sneaking into the second AL wild-card spot last year on the heels of a 103-loss campaign. Starting pitching remains the big question in Minnesota, and losing veteran Ervin Santana for 10 to 12 weeks following surgery on his right middle finger only raises further questions.”
-USA Today: 86-76: “The Twins will be a more viable threat should they add an elite starter such as Yu Darvish. For now, they’re plenty good to feast on the retreating bottom of this division.”
-Baseball America: 2nd place. “Other teams did more, but no one did more for less. Minnesota bargain hunted to add depth to the rotation with Jake Odorizzi, while adding Addison Reed to the bullpen and a middle-of-the-order bat in Logan Morrison.”
-Fansided: 1st place. “The Cleveland Indians are the favorite in the division but the Minnesota Twins are the team that’s going to sneak up and take the division crown in 2018. They did suffer a big blow already this offseason when starting pitcher Ervin Santana injured his finger. He’ll miss a chunk of the season but the Twins just signed former St. Louis Cardinals starter Lance Lynn to help fill the void. Minnesota is a well-rounded squad and one player is going to be the key: outfielder Byron Buxton.”
-Kennys Vargas finds himself in a strange place. After the Twins designated the first baseman/DH for assignment, he was claimed off waivers by the Cincinnati Reds. Now, the Twins have picked him up again after the Reds designated him for assignment.
-The Twins beat the Baltimore Orioles 12-4 on Saturday. The Twins had 10 hits, including four home runs, to back a bunch of relievers who took the mound. Reliever Gabriel Moya, who got the start, struck out two in one inning, but got the win.
-Ryan LaMarre, who seems determined to make the team, had two more hits on Saturday. He’s hitting .487.