As they do each year, the Sporting News puts out a season preview issue around the turn of the calendar. In the issue, the Sporting News makes predictions for each division in baseball, both American and National League, as well as deciding their postseason picks. Unfortunately for Twins fans, the Sporting News doesn’t see it being a much better 2015.
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After finishing dead last in the AL Central a season ago, the Sporting News has them slated for a similar finish in 2015. Thanks to Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press, we have some proof as to just how bad the Sporting News thinks the Twins will be.
Call me an optimist, but while the Twins may finish in the doldrums of the AL Central, I don’t foresee it being all that bad. A season ago, Minnesota actually competed respectably against inner division foes. They did so while having lackluster pitching, and being extremely out-talented. While the division as a whole has gotten better this offseason, so too have the Twins. As previously noted, expectations for a record with a floor within games of .500, and a ceiling that pushes for a Wild Card spot into September, aren’t out of the question.
The magazine went a bit further to take a jab at the ballclub in their explanation of where the Twins will finish:
Considering that a season ago, a lineup that is arguably worse than one that adds Torii Hunter, was among the best in baseball when it came to scoring runs, I have a hard time believing hitting will be the issue. If anything, Molitor should continue to get more out of a team that clearly so many, expect less from.
Looking at the rest of the Sporting News projections, there are some that may catch your eye. Let’s just jump right to the most shocking one:
The Cubs winning the World Series in 2015 isn’t shocking because it isn’t plausible, but maybe because it’s too much of a leap. If there’s a team that rivals the Twins future, it’s the Cubs. Minnesota is still at least one year behind where Chicago is, and the missing link between the success of the two may be Theo Epstein proving significantly more adept than Terry Ryan.
That all being said, and I’m a big believer in the Cubs taking a big leap forward, I don’t see them as World Series contenders this year. If you got them at 50/1 odds, or could place a bet on winning the NL Central, that’s not necessarily something I would shy away from. Looking at the rest of the playoff breakdown in the picture, I think they are all pretty fair guesses. If I had to change anything, I don’t think the Giants have done enough to warrant consideration this offseason. Call me crazy, but I think the Padres have a chance to cash in on their big moves.
At any rate, don’t let the Twins finishing last in the AL Central be a downer for you at this point. Expecting the division to be very close throughout should make for a very fun 2015. If worst comes to worst, watch the Cubs and hope Terry Ryan gets a little bit of Theo-like ability this season.