Minnesota Twins Preview
Baseball is nearly back!  Opening Day is always one of my most anticipated days of the year, regardless of how bleak the Twins’ chances look.  And this year, I think things look very, very bleak.  Just how bad?  Wait until you see my prediction for their final record.

Last year’s team featured historically bad hitting and historically bad pitching.  The front office addressed one of those two areas, upgrading the starting pitching.  Offensively, they will need virtually every single player to either a) bounce back after a down year (Plouffe, among others), b) have a break-out season (Hicks, Arcia, etc.), or c) not get injured (Mauer, Willingham, etc.).

I just participated in two fantasy drafts and of the 250 or so players drafted, really only Mauer and Glen Perkins provide any useful fantasy value. Maybe Dozier in a deep league. That’s where it ends. Roughly 1% of the players drafted are Twins.

Here’s my absolute best-case scenario for 2014.

The pitching is improved and is keeping the opponents off the board in the early innings, allowing the bats to relax a little and possibly jump out to a few early leads before turning it over to a great bullpen. Maybe a lot of 3-2 or 4-3 wins.  Mauer is healthy and thriving at first base, not missing substantial time.  Byron Buxton and Alex Meyer make their debuts and suddenly fielding a competitive team in 2015 seems very realistic.  The team goes 81-81, finishing third in the division.

But here’s the likelier scenario as I see things playing out.

The offense is shut out often in April, thereby adding stress to the pitching staff which feels it needs to be perfect in order to win a game. Lots of ugly 9-1, 7-0 types of losses early on, burying the team in the standings.  The injury bug bites key veterans and a carrousel of AAA players are forced into the lineup, striking out at a historic pace. Players with marginal value such as Kevin Correia, Mike Pelfrey, Brian Duensing, and Jared Burton are traded off for prospects. The team at least earns the #1 pick in the 2015 draft.

I am really worried that this team is going to set some records for offensive futility this year. I think they’ll rank last in the AL in runs scored and home runs, and first in strikeouts. Last year’s team scored the second-fewest runs in team history, and then they proceeded to trade away Justin Morneau and Ryan Doumit (2nd and 5th on the team in OPS in ’13), and essentially replaced them with even more inferior hitters.

My Twins prediction for 2014… 57-105.


And now for my overall predictions…

AL East W L GB NL East W L GB
Boston 99 63 Washington 92 70
Tampa Bay* 92 70 7 Atlanta* 90 72 2
NY Yankees* 91 71 8 NY Mets 80 82 12
Baltimore 83 79 16 Philadelphia 73 89 19
Toronto 76 86 23 Miami 63 99 29
AL Central W L GB NL Central W L GB
Detroit 89 73 St Louis 104 58
Cleveland 80 82 9 Milwaukee 89 73 15
Chicago WS 77 85 12 Cincinnati 84 78 20
Kansas City 73 89 16 Pittsburgh 77 85 27
Minnesota 57 105 32 Chicago Cubs 60 102 44
AL West W L GB NL West W L GB
Texas 95 67 LA Dodgers 95 67
LA Angels 87 75 8 Arizona* 92 70 3
Oakland 83 79 12 San Diego 81 81 14
Seattle 72 90 23 San Francisco 78 84 17
Houston 64 98 31 Colorado 72 90 23

AL Wild Card: Tampa Bay def. NY Yankees
NL Wild Card: Arizona def. Atlanta

ALDS: Boston def. Tampa Bay, Texas def. Detroit
NLDS: St Louis def. Arizona, LA Dodgers def. Washington

ALCS: Boston def. Texas
NLCS: St Louis def. LA Dodgers

World Series: St. Louis def. Boston

AL MVP: Mike Trout, LAA
NL MVP: Paul Goldschmidt, ARI

AL CY: Chris Sale, CHW
NL CY: Jose Fernandez, MIA

AL MGR: Joe Maddon, TB
NL MGR: Mike Matheny, STL

AL ROY: Yordano Ventura, KC
NL ROY: Billy Hamilton, CIN