A bold Minnesota Twins prediction

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 30: Manager Paul Molitor
KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 30: Manager Paul Molitor /

The Minnesota Twins open up the regular season on Thursday and that means it’s prediction time here at Puckett’s Pond.

We could make numerous predictions about the 2018 Minnesota Twins. However, today we will be talking about one bold prediction for the upcoming season. So, without further ado, here is that prediction: the Minnesota Twins will win the American League Central division crown in 2018.

What will keep this from coming true?

We’ll talk about all of the reasons why the Twins will win the division later. However, to start things off we’ll look at one big factor that can keep this from happening, the dreaded “R” word, regression.

Player regression is as much a part of baseball as hot dogs and beer. Every season we see players perform well above expectations. On the flip side of that, we see players perform well below expectations or regress back to their norm. One big candidate for regression with the Minnesota Twins is left fielder Eddie Rosario.

Rosario played out of his mind during the 2017 season en route to being one of the Twins top offensive performers. He hit .290 with 27 home runs and 78 runs batted in while playing stellar defense in the outfield.

It would not be shocking to see Rosario’s batting average slip into the .260’s and his home runs drop to the low 20’s. He has dealt with minor injuries already in Spring Training, and that does not bode well for the regular season.

Another key to the Minnesota Twins success will be center fielder Byron Buxton. Speed and defense is the calling card for Buxton, however, he was one of the top hitters in baseball over the final two months of last season. He hit .298 with 11 home runs and 13 stolen bases from August 1st through the end of the season.

Buxton has the look of a game-changing superstar for the Twins. However, he is young, and projecting young players is as hard as projecting how successful a bullpen will perform from year-to-year. If Buxton struggles, so to will the Minnesota Twins.

Why the Twins will win the division

Minnesota has rebuilt their entire pitching staff and that will be the key to success for the ’18 season. The Twins brought in Lance Lynn and Jake Odorizzi to strengthen the rotation. They also added Zach Duke, Addison Reed, and Fernando Rodney to help shore up the bullpen. It all starts with pitching for the Twins, and this staff should rank among the best in baseball if healthy.

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Before you start yelling at your screen about the 17 game cushion the Indians finished with last season, let’s remember that dreaded “R” word from earlier. Regression hits every team in Major League Baseball so the Indians are not immune from that happening.

Cleveland is a talented team, nobody can deny that fact. However, they lost a few big contributors from last season and didn’t do much to replace them over the Winter. Factor in some of the remaining Indians not meeting expectations, and this division is wide open for Minnesota.

The Twins front office made some major additions during the off-season and the biggest might be Logan Morrison. Minnesota ranked in the Top-10 for runs scored in MLB and Morrison will only help produce more runs. Outside of losing Jorge Polanco to suspension for 80 games, Minnesota has everybody coming back for this season.

This will be an interesting season and it could all come down to the final weeks. This race is closer than anybody is willing to admit, and Thursday it all begins. Go Twins!

Next: Getting to know the Cleveland Indians

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