I promised I would present any AL Central predictions I came across going forward, so that is the first puddle we jump into tonight. Then we will jump with both feet into a large prospect-ranking-puddle courtesy of Baseball Prospectus.
The Morris Daily Herald has picked the Minnesota Twins to finish 2nd with an 88-74 record … I’m not too upset with this assessment based on the record alone.
The way the AL East and AL West are shaping up, I think 88-74 in the Central just might be good enough to win the division.
What strikes me most about this prediction is some of the reasoning stated. Some of the points are optimistic and some are pessimistic. Some are just kind of puzzling, but of all of them (and it’s not a long article) this one is my personal favorite:
"If the health issues persist for either Morneau or Nathan, the Twins are in trouble."
There is no doubt that the Twins are an entirely different – and much better – team with a healthy Nathan and Morneau in the mix. However, they finished the 2010 season 94-68 and were just 3 wins away from having the best record in all of baseball. They pulled this off even though Joe Nathan didn’t throw a pitch for them last season and despite the fact that Justin Morneau only played in 81 games. The team had a lot of things go right but they also dealt with their share of adversity (beyond the Nathan and Morneau injuries) which all to often gets overlooked.
Can they win the division without one or both of those guys healthy? Even though both those guys are extremely valuable, I think the answer is yes. The White Sox and Tigers have significant warts, and the Twins – unlike their two rivals – have another group of potential reinforcements in the wings. They’re not names that most people, who don’t follow this team, will recognize but that will likely change by the end of the years. Seth Stohs touches on some of these players in an article he published yesterday which was appropriately titled Twins 2011 Impact Prospects.
Before we move on, I have decided to amend my promise to pass along all the AL Central predictions I come across. They need to be noteworthy in some way, of reasonable quality or both for me to share them with you. There were two that I stumbled upon in the last couple of days that were poorly written and did not deserve to be mentioned here. Neither of them were from sites that I frequent and neither of them were on team specific blogs/sites which generally do a very good job of breaking things down.
Speaking of prospects, Kevin Goldstein revealed the Twins 2011 top 20 today.
You can see the list 1-20 and also their write-up of Miguel Sano, who they rank #1. To see the rest of the write-ups you have to be a BP subscriber unfortunately. I’m always glad to see Sano come up in the top spot as he tops my mental list* right now.
*mental list is subject to change once the 2011 Puckett’s Pond Prospect Rankings are revealed.
I have added the above link to the Puckett’s Pond Prospects page which you can always reference throughout the year to refresh your memory on how various sources ranked Sano, Gibson, Hicks and their many friends.