Most everyone expects another 90+ loss season for the Twins in 2013 and it’s hard to blame them. On paper, the lineup looks average, the starting rotation poor, the defense mediocre, and the bullpen solid at the back but questionable otherwise. Additionally, as Minnesota sports fans, we’ve been conditioned lately to expect everything to go wrong. But what if everything goes right? Could this team actually shock everyone and contend or are thing so bleak that no amount of good fortune can save this season? As sports should have taught us by now, almost nothing is impossible. Here’s a list of things that I believe all have to go right for the Twins to make a surprising run toward contention.
1. Joe Mauer needs another MVP caliber season. It doesn’t have to be historically good like his previous MVP season, but we shouldn’t be shocked if he goes out and bats .340 with 15 homeruns and a .430 OBP.
2. The old Justin Morneau needs to come back. If Morneau can get back to being a guy who hits .300 with 30 HR, the lineup suddenly looks a lot more formidable.
3. Willingham and Doumit need to repeat very solid 2012’s. Both played about as well as could be hoped and need to do it again.
4. Aaron Hicks needs to be a rookie of the year contender. If he can hit .270 with 10-15 homeruns, get on base at a .350 clip, and play solid CF defense, the Twins will not miss Span and Revere out there.
5. Brian Dozier needs to get back to being the player we thought he was. If he can win the 2B job and play solid D and hit for solid average, with good OBP and a little speed and pop, he’ll really help solidify the infield.
6. Shortstop needs to be well above average defensively, whoever it is. He won’t hit so he’ll have to make up for it with his glove.
7. Trevor Plouffe needs to hit .250 with 20+ homeruns and play passable defense at 3B.
8. Chris Parmelee needs to hit. If he doesn’t hit .270 with 20+ HR his defense will make him a liability.
9. Kyle Gibson needs to be the team’s best starting pitcher for the innings he’s available. He is the only guy with better than #3 starter potential and the Twins aren’t making the playoffs with a team full of #4 and 5 starters.
10. One of Pelphrey and Correia need to be as good as they’ve been in their best years.
11. Liam Hendriks needs to learn to translate his minor league success to the Major Leagues. He has the talent to be the team’s second best starter. He’ll need to be.
12. Diamond needs to get healthy and prove last year was not a fluke.
13. Vance Worley needs to stay healthy and be a solid #3 starter that pitches 200+ innings.
14. Burton and Perkins need to be a shutdown, end game tandem like they were most of last year.
15. The rest of the bullpen needs to be better than league average.
16. EVERYONE NEEDS TO STAY RELATIVELY HEALTHY
Last season the Twins scored 701 runs and gave up 832. In order for them to compete they will need to at least meet those numbers. Best case scenario would still put them at average at run prevention. Thus, the offense is likely going to need to score 75 more runs. That could happen if everyone performs to the level indicated above. Morneau alone could add 30 runs created by getting back to his peak year production.
All of the above could happen, so I guess there is hope, however unlikely.