2015 Minnesota Twins Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
by Alan Matthews - 2/13/2015
Assuming you aren't a fan of the team, I'm willing to bet you can't name me five Minnesota Twins outside of Joe Mauer and perhaps Phil Hughes. Can you name two? One? Indeed, the Twins are probably the most non-descript team in the majors, taking that title away from the San Diego Padres after all the Fathers have added this offseason. Teams are going to want to beat Minnesota now, however, because the Twins have a loaded farm system led by No. 2 overall prospect Byron Buxton. You could see him and fellow mega-prospect Miguel Sano (less likely) later in the 2015 season. Both had major injury problems in 2014, however, with Sano missing the whole year.
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As for the current Twins, they come off a 70-92 record, the team's fourth straight losing season after winning back-to-back AL Central titles in 2009-10 but being swept in the ALDS by the Yankees in both years. Minnesota's biggest offseason move was the firing of Manager Ron Gardenhire, which was mildly surprising as his 13-year tenure had largely been quite successful. He had the second-longest tenure in baseball behind the Angels' Mike Scioscia.
While I think Gardenhire is a good manager who probably will be hired by some team after the 2015 season, I do like who the Twins replaced him with: Hall of Famer Paul Molitor, a Minnesota native and former Twins player. Molitor, who has the 10th most hits in big-league history, spent 2014 as a coach on Gardenhire's staff and before that 10 seasons as a minor-league instructor in the organization. Molitor is the eighth Hall of Fame player to manage in the majors and third to make his debut after already being inducted. The others are current Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg and Ted Williams. Molitor was one of the smartest players in baseball during his playing days, so I think he succeeds.
Twins 2015 Projected Lineup
With so many anonymous players, it might surprise you to know that Minnesota had one of the best offenses in the majors in the second half of last season and finished seventh overall in runs. The Twins also were No. 5 in on-base percentage.
The projected leadoff hitter is shortstop Danny Santana, who led the team with a .319 average and 20 steals along with a very good .353 on-base percentage in 109 games as a rookie. You might think shortstop is a typo because Santana played mostly in the outfield in 2014. He was moved to center field out of necessity because the team had no one else to put there regularly, but Santana played shortstop in the minors.
Second baseman Brian Dozier should hit second, and he led the team with 23 homers last year while knocking in 71, although he hit only .243 and struck out 129 times. Dozier will be followed by the first baseman Mauer, who still has one of the worst contracts in the majors. The former batting champion and AL MVP hit only .277 in 120 games last year, and his power is totally gone as Mauer had a measly four homers. First basemen are supposed to hit for power. Mauer will be followed by DH Kennys Vargas, who showed pretty well as a rookie, hitting .274 with nine homers and 38 RBIs in 215 at-bats.
Perhaps the one Twin you could have named is outfielder Torii Hunter, who hits fifth. The 39-year-old hit .286 with 17 homers, 33 doubles and 83 RBIs in 142 games with the Tigers in 2014. Of course, he spent 1997-2007 with the Twins. This likely will be the final season for the 39-year-old as he's on just a one-year deal. The rest of the lineup in some order: outfielder Oswaldo Arcia, outfielder Aaron Hicks (presuming he beats out Jordan Schafer for the center-field job) and catcher Kurt Suzuki.
If this team finishes seventh in the majors in runs again, I'll eat my shoes.
Twins 2015 Projected Rotation & Closer
Why have the Twins been awful for the past four years? They have ranked 29th, 28th, 29th and 29th in the majors in team ERA over that stretch. The ace is Hughes, who was shockingly great in 2014. Hughes finished 16-10 with a 3.52 ERA and the best strikeouts-to-walks ratio in big-league history (11.63 in 209.2 innings). Hughes was under contract through 2016, but the Twins were so happy with him that they gave him a three-year extension through 2019. You may remember Hughes fell one-third of an inning short of qualifying for a $500,000 bonus. The team offered to let him pitch out of the bullpen in the season finale just to get the bonus, but Hughes said no, saying "I just didn't think it was right." Kudos to him.
The big addition to the staff is Ervin Santana. He was 14-10 last season with an ERA of 3.95 in his one season with the Atlanta Braves. Santana actually had better numbers the year before in Kansas City but couldn't find a multi-year deal and signed with Atlanta late in spring training. The rest of the rotation is rather underwhelming: Ricky Nolasco (a major free-agent bust last year when he was 6-12 with a 5.38 ERA), Kyle Gibson (13-12, 4.47) and someone of left-handers Tommy Milone and Logan Darnell and right-handers Trevor May, Mike Pelfrey, Alex Meyer and Tim Stauffer at No. 5.
Minnesota has a good closer in Glen Perkins, although he regressed in 2014 perhaps partly due to an injury that ended his season a few weeks early. Perkins had 34 saves in 41 chances and a 3.65 ERA.
Twins Futures Odds & 2014 Trends
Only World Series and pennant props out thus far team-wise, but that should change in a few weeks.At Sportsbook.ag, the Twins are +10000 to win the World Series and +5000 long shots to win the AL pennant. Minnesota doesn't have a player listed on the prop to lead the majors in homers. The Twins were 80-82 against the spread last season and 87-69-2 "over/under." On the moneyline, they were -654 units for the year.
Twins 2015 Predictions
FanGraphs projects Minnesota to finish with an AL-worst 75 wins. Is this team five wins better than last year's? Maybe. I'm not sure how much Hunter has left in the tank or whether last year was a fluke for Hughes, but Santana upgrades the rotation a bit and Nolasco can only improve. If 75 was the O/U total I'd probably go slightly under, but help is coming eventually.
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