Minnesota Twins


The Twins will have a new look and a new identity as Rocco Baldelli takes over as manager on a team that backslid considerably in 2018 after making the playoffs the year before.
What’s New
Baldelli is a new-age manager who will be as reliant on analytics as any manager in the game and should give the Twins a positive atmosphere that was missing last season. Baldelli will not have veteran Joe Mauer to come up with clutch hits, as the former catcher and line-drive hitter opted for retirement and he will have his number retired this summer.

The Twins have added veteran power bat Nelson Cruz (37 home runs, .509 slugging percentage) who chose Minnesota because he saw the Twins as having a chance to be a team that rises above the 78-84 record that landed them in second place in the AL Central, 13 games behind the division-winning Cleveland Indians.
Minnesota also brought in former Oriole Jonathan Schoop, who did not do much last season after he was acquired by the Milwaukee Brewers for the stretch run. Schoop (32 home runs, .508 slugging percentage in 2017) is capable of returning to 30-HR status as the Twins’ new second baseman. C.J. Cron (30 homers, .503 slugging percentage) is also capable of upgrading the lineup from his spot at first.
The Twins are also expecting quite a bit from shortstop Jorge Polanco, who is finalizing a contract extension for seven years that guarantees $25 million, per ESPN.com. Polanco was suspended last winter after testing positive for a banned substance, and he hit .288 with six home runs in 77 games upon his return. Polanco claimed the test results came from a tainted supplement.
Don’t overlook Ronald Torreyes as a valuable utility man. He can play any spot on the infield and he demonstrated with the Yankees that he is capable of helping the team play winning baseball.
What Could Change
The Twins appeared to have a core of strong young players who were capable of leading the team for years to come, but Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton and Max Kepler all took a big step backwards last season.
While all had their own issues, all there were big swing-and-miss types and their inability to put the bat on the ball cost the Twins quite a few offensive opportunities.
In addition to that problem, Sano (13 HR, 115 strikeouts) was never in the kind of baseball shape that he should have been in, and there are legitimate questions about his dedication. If he is in top shape during spring training and is focused on consistency, he could become a dangerous power hitter.
Kepler (96 strikeouts)may be the closest of the three to returning to form. Even though his slugging percentage was down to .408, he did hit 20 home runs and he has one of the smoothest swings in the American League.
Buxton (.183 on-base percentage, 28 games played) has been viewed as the team’s coming superstar for years because of his athletic gifts, but he was in a funk in 2018 and has much to prove.
What’s Coming
This should be a season in which the Twins have a chance to surprise in 2019. Even though many of their your core players disappointed in 2018, they were quite a bit better than the Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers and the Kansas City Royals.
If Sano, Kepler, and Buxton can make at least some improvement and Cruz, Schoop and Cron play to their expected levels, the Twins should be able to give the Indians a much better battle.
Of course, the key will be the pitching, and the Twins have some live arms. Jose Berrios (192.1 innings pitched, 3.84 ERA) has a chance to be the ace of the staff, Jake Odorizzi (164.1 innings pitched,, 4.49 ERA) has the tools to bounce back with a solid yearn and Michael Pineda is coming back from Tommy John surgery and should be a positive factor once he gets past his first three of four starts of the season.
Fernando Romero (55.2 inning pitched)  is an X-factor with a mid-90s fastball and a slider that can be devastating. He still needs to come up with a third pitch. Reliever Taylor Rogers (75 strikeouts in 68.1 innings) has an excellent arm and has been quite consistent.
Best-Case Scenario: First place in the division if the young core players bounce back, while Cruz and Schoop both show off 30-HR power and the pitching staff comes through as the Cleveland Indians take a step backwards.
Worst-Case Scenario: The Twins will be a third-place team with a losing record if Kepler, Sano and Buxton continue to languish, the Chicago White Sox take a step up and the Indians maintain their hold on the division.


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