As the season begins today, everyone is wondering how the season will go for the Twins this year. Will they be good? Will they be bad? Predictions and projections are being thrown out left and right. The Twins are in an exciting (some might say perilous) spot where things could easily go one way or the other this year. Either way, let’s just be glad they aren’t the Orioles.
I’m not here to guarantee you that the Twins will win 100 games this year or make the playoffs. Your guess is as good as mine. However, let’s run through five things the hometown nine has going for them this year.
1. The Big
Red Kasota Gold Machine
The 2019 Twins lineup could very well be the best offense fielded in Minnesota since the 2011 squad, which boasted Mauer, Morneau, Cuddyer, and Thome. This lineup is strong from top to bottom. Nelson Cruz is definitely the best DH we’ve had since Thome (who he’s probably better than). C.J. Cron will likely be the best run-producer at the traditionally powerful first-base position since Morneau was in his hey-day. Jonathan Schoop should be able to do a reasonable Brian Dozier impression (the non-washed-up version) at second base. Jorge Polanco doesn’t even have to improve on his 2018 numbers (though the potential is there) to be the best-hitting shortstop in Minnesota since 2001 Christian Guzman. Third base has long been the safe haven for light-hitting utility men for the Twins (besides a couple Trevor Plouffe years), but whether Miguel Sano is able to return to form or Marwin Gonzalez steps up, the hot corner will be no easy out for our opponents this year. Eddie Rosario has been the best bat on the Twins for a few years now and has showed no signs of dropping off. Buxton is forever a question mark in center, but if he does a reasonable 2017 impression he’ll be an outstanding player. Kepler is due for a big breakout, and has done nothing this spring to discourage those predictions. Jake Cave may not get on base or try as much as Robbie Grossman did, but he definitely swings with authority. Catcher may be the only hole in the lineup, as Jason Castro has not been much of a hitter lately. However, backups Garver and Astudillo know their way around the batter’s box pretty well.
2. Jose Berrios, La Makina
Jose Berrios has a very good chance of filling the role of the long-awaited True Ace for the Twins. Not since Santana (Johan, that is) have we seen such nasty stuff along with a level head on the bump from our starters. Last year, at the young age of 24, Berrios broke the 200-strikeout plateau for the first time. We should look for him to build upon that number this year. Berrios has shown incredible drive to improve and a tireless work ethic. This kid wants to be the best there is, and he has the talent, head, and drive to accomplish that.
3. Nothing Falls but Raindrops
The 2019 Minnesota Twins, barring injuries, will have perhaps the very best outfield defense in baseball, outside of Boston. Playing Rosario, Buxton, and Kepler together is almost like having three centerfielders in the outfield. Rosario and Kepler have excellent range in the corners, and are experienced in handling the tricky corners of Target Field. Byron Buxton is one of the very fastest men in the MLB, and has added 21 pounds of muscle to his impressive physique. Instead of getting injured crashing into walls, the walls are going to get injured from trying to stop him. In all seriousness, centerfield is where triples, and doubles, and singles, go to die at Target Field this year. You might want to lower your launch angle before sending one out to this trio.
4. T&T Firefighting Department
In all honesty, there is many more bad things to say about the bullpen than good things this year. However, watch out for the duo of Trevor May and Taylor Rogers. The righty-lefty duo give the Twins a couple guys they can lean on to put out fires no matter who is at the plate. Trevor May leans on electric stuff and a hard fastball to put batters away to the tune of an absurd 12.8 strikeouts/nine innings in his last two active years. Taylor Rogers is a traditional lefty, leaning on a good sinker and a looping curveball to fool hitters - however, his 28-appearance streak of giving up no runs to end 2018 is anything but traditional. These two pitchers have the flexibility and talent to become a force putting out fires in high-leverage moments for the Twins.
5. Wild Wild Willians
Of course this article was always going to include La Tortuga. Has Astudillo ever spent a full season on a Major League club that wasn’t good? That would be a no. The man doesn’t strikeout, doesn’t walk, and doesn’t lose. All he does is win, put the ball in play, and show us that chubby people can run, too. He may not be little, but he would have fit right in with the Piranhas. As long as we get to watch him play, will things ever really not be good?