Byung-ho Park, John Ryan Murphy
Torii Hunter, Aaron Hicks, Mike Pelfrey
The Twins lost out on an all-timer in Hunter with his retirement. That said, presently it doesn’t hurt them much given what he did for them last year. Hicks and Hunter combined to produce a WAR of 1.6. In Park they are getting a guy who will probably only play right field or DH, but his projections on fangraphs range to a WAR of about 1.8-2.4. It’s impossible to predict the life style change, but they are suggesting he should be able to replace all of the production lost.
Projected Playoff Lineup
- Brian Dozier
- Joe Mauer
- Miguel Sano
- Trevor Plouffe
- Eddie Rosario
- Byung-ho Park
- Jorge Polanco
- Kurt Suzuki
- Byron Buxton
The Twins are starting to come along with a core of young players. Sano, Buxton and Polanco are all 22 years old entering the 2016 season. Sano flashed a big bat for years to come and between AA and 80 MLB games he hit 33 combined home runs in 2015. At 21 no matter who the competition that is impressive, and while he doesn’t quite have a role on defense he should easily find a place in the lineup. Sano will get some time at first with the aging Mauer expecting more off days, and Oswaldo Arcia stepping in to play right field. Fortunately for the Twins both Rosario and Buxton are plus defenders and who mans right field won’t necessarily destroy their defense. Polanco is projected to start the season in the minor leagues, but it would be expected for him to be up around July. Overall it will rely on those three young players to make big strides in the lineup because they have a group of complimentary pieces around them that makes you think they can contend.
The rotation is what is going to be the downfall of the Twins. Santana is now 33, only pitched 100 innings last year, and really has never had the stuff to be an ace of a rotation. Gibson and Hughes probably have the potential to be better, but both are guys that always seem one piece away from really putting it together. The back end of the rotation is decent at best, and some starts from Trevor May, who will be on the team in the bullpen should be expected as well as Tyler Duffy, who was optioned to AAA. They will shuffle them in the back and see if they can get enough innings to scrap together wins. Either way the rotation is the clear weakness and will need to be addressed if they are looking to make a run with a solid lineup.
Glen Perkins could be something to watch this year. He is now 33 years old, and is coming off of a year with a career low in K rate and walk rate. It would really hurt the depth of the back end if he were to continue to regress.
On the whole, it seems hard to think the Twins will be in the same position they were in last year. They should get good hitting, and have depth to compete for the full season, but there is a thought they played a bit over their heads last year. They don’t have the pitching and it showed as they faded in the playoff race last year, and it could be very similar this year.
4th in the AL Central