The Twins lost 103 games last year, which—shocker—made them the cellar-dwellers in the AL Central (and all of baseball, for that matter). But 2017 is a new year and a new beginning. This year, the Twins have a good chance of making it all the way to the cellar stairs. Maybe up a couple steps, even.
How will the division shake out as a whole? Who knows! But here’s how the Twins’s AL Central compatriots are looking for 2017.
Basically everyone is expecting last year’s American League Champions to dominate the AL Central in 2017. In fact, the PECOTA projections have the Indians as the only team in the division with a winning record.
These rosy predictions are not really a surprise given this is basically the same Indians team as it was last year—maybe slightly better—and they went all the way to Game 7 or the World Series last year (extra innings, even). The biggest and seemingly-only loss for the Indians in the off-season was Mike Napoli, but the team went out and signed Edwin Encarnacion to basically take his place.
Then there’s the pitching. I think all Twins fans are incredibly jealous of the Indians pitching, which is not just marginally competent, but actually good. The Indians have guys Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar returning from injury to join a rotation that already has Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, and Josh Tomlin. Oh, and they get a full year of Andrew Miller in the bullpen, too. Frankly, I don’t think it’s fair.
Future Hall of Famer Terry Francona is still the Indians manager, of course, and he’s great. Francisco Lindor continues to be annoying in a good-for-the-Indians way. Basically, the biggest thing wrong with this team is Trevor Bauer’s embarrassing rants on social media, and doesn’t even have anything to do with actual baseball.
Like the Indians, the 2017 Tigers are basically the same team that they were last year. The key difference, though, is that the Tigers weren’t particularly good last year. Sure, they had a winning record, but it’s not like they made it to the playoffs, let alone Game 7 of the World Series like the Indians did.
The Tigers just didn’t do anything to improve this off-season. They got back Alex Avila, probably because of nepotism, and added something called a Mikie Mahtook and Victor Alcantara.
Want my frank opnion on the Tigers? I think they’re going to do worse than people expect. There’s a lot of recency bias with this team because they were very good for awhile, and they have big names like Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander—but everyone gets old, folks. Cabrera will be turning 34 this April. Justin Verlander is 34. Ian Kinsler? Also 34. Seriously, it’s like the Kirby Puckett memorial-aged team over there in Michigan.
Some may claim the Tigers window for winning is closing, but I think it’s already shut.
The Royals had a heartbreaking off-season, losing starter Yordano Ventura in a fatal car accident in the Dominican Republic. It’s hard to pick on them because of that. Also, I’ve always like the Royals so bite me.
Maybe the biggest move these guys made in the off-season was trading their star closer Wade Davis to the Cubs for Jorge Soler. They also added Jason Hammel after the loss of Ventura, plus Brandon Moss, Nate Karns, and Travis Wood.
It’s a little puzzling because the Royals have a huge group of impending free agents coming up after 2017, which includes Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas, and Alcides Escobar. You’d think maybe the Royals would try to prepare for life after those guys, but not so much. In any case, looking at this list of guys gives me the feeling the Royals could be very busy at the deadline—and by busy, I mean as sellers, because I doubt they’ll be contending.
Still, they have enough pitching to leave them better off than the Twins. Probably.
Here’s where it gets good for the Twins. The White Sox went full-blown rebuilding mode this off-season and as a result, they’re going to suck this year. They traded away Chris Sale—who the Twins were actually pretty good against, but I digress—and outfielder Adam Eaton for a huge sleuth of young prospects from the Red Sox and Nationals. Those guys are still a bit young to do much of anything this year, so quick, Twins, this is your chance to not end up last in the AL Central!!!
They still have some big hitters like Jose Abreu and Todd Frazier, and Jose Quintana at the top of their rotation, but seriously. Guys. I think the Twins can at least finish above this team—and you don’t even have to feel bad about it because they no longer have Justin Morneau.
How do you think the AL Central will turn out? Where will the Twins end up? See any sleepers here?