Minnesota Twins moving past old recipe for success; embracing power hitting as strength
For the Minnesota Twins it has always been about defense and pitching, which is why expectations for the team have been rather low over the past few seasons.
The Twins have consistently ranked toward the bottom of the league over the past six seasons in team ERA, runs allowed, quality starts and strikeouts.
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However, with manager Paul Molitor entering his second season and a youth movement that has the team and its fans excited for a promising future, it seems the Twins’ focus has been less on what brought them success when they were winning division titles in the 2000’s and more on what the highlight reels really enjoy showing.
Yes, the Twins are starting to become a power hitting team and for better or worse it’s their power that will make them competitive this coming season.
General Manager Terry Ryan has already shown his willingness to hold onto players like third baseman Trevor Plouffe as well as go out and take a chance on signing South Korean slugger Byung-ho Park.
Plouffe’s return to the team especially shows that Ryan understands the Twins need as many weapons as possible. Once upon a time, the team may have traded away Plouffe for prospects or bullpen arms but by holding onto him, Ryan effectively threw his chips in with this power hitting version of the Twins instead of the “by the books” Twins of old.
With Park, the hope is he will be able to help replace the numbers put up last season by the now-retired Torii Hunter.
It may be an unfair expectation to believe Park will smash 50+ homers now that he is playing stateside but it’s probably not too crazy to believe he could hit 20-25 home runs if he can get a handle on Major League pitching.
Aside from Plouffe and Park, the Twins may also feature any combination of the following players. At his disposal, Molitor will have second-year outfielder Eddie Rosario, All-Star second baseman Brian Dozier, first baseman/designated hitter Kennys Vargas, outfielder Oswaldo Arcia and, of course, outfielder/third baseman Miguel Sano.
For the Twins, any combination of these players could prove to have a powerful impact as the team believes Sano has 30+ home run potential while Dozier and Arcia have both reached 20 home runs in the past.
If healthy this could be a dangerous lineup. And for the Twins, it will need to be.
There’s no guarantee the team will have a dominant bullpen. It’s also no lock the starting rotation will be able to slow down the slew of offensive weapons the American League Central have added this season.
At the end of the day, they may not be the Toronto Blue Jays or Los Angeles Angels but with the wild cards being Arcia and Vargas, not to mention a full season of rookie outfielder Byron Buxton, the Twins could prove to be a true test and headache for American League pitching.
Now if only Joe Mauer could reach that 28 home run plateau again…