Now that the Minnesota Twins have locked in Carlos Correa — which is still so sweet to say out loud — it’s time to start looking ahead to this upcoming season and what sort of overall impact the roster can have.
More specifically, it’s time to get excited and overreact to projected win totals.
It’s always a goofy thing to try and predict win totals in sports, and baseball has gone as far as to try and build math around it. Variables are unpredictable, but the Twins have clear path ahead of them that even the most cynical among us can get at least a little excited about.
Prior Correa’s deal, FanGraphs ZiPS had the Twins at 81-wins. So even with the roster as it was, things were projected to be average at best, which seems a lot better than the way things felt in the wake of potentially losing Correa.
It seems like stating the obvious, but the Twins are much better team with Correa in the lineup and their win projection already reflects that. Correa’s WAR was around 5.0 last year, which puts the Twins within striking distance of 90-wins this year.
Expect that win total to move even more with upcoming deals the Twins are surely going to make.
Minnesota is likely going to add another starting pitcher, with Miami’s Pablo Lopez being a popular name thrown around. Moving Max Kepler seems to be in the cards as well, which comes as a bittersweet relief to Twins fans. Kepler has been a fan favorite — and the greatest German imports in baseball — but his inability to figure out how to generate offense has been brutal for his value. The new shift rules might help him out, but his upside provides more value to the Twins than anything else.
Path to 90-win season is a lot easier than it was before
This seems obvious, but the Twins path to a 90-win season is significantly less complicated than it was before. Let’s caution against using the word ‘easy’ in this scenario, as Minnesota still has its work cut out in 2023.
Adding Correa is a huge boost, but there are still pitfalls that could derail the season. Just look at last year, when the Twins finished in third-place, won fewer than 80 games, and missed the postseason. Injuries played a huge role in Minnesota falling off, but September was an overall rough month for the Twins and was the absolute worst version of what this season could be.
Of course, the flip side of that coin is the glimpse we saw of what a season where Byron Buxton and Carlos Correa can both stay healthy at the same time looks like. Minnesota could have two MVP-caliber players in its lineup if Buxton and Correa avoid the IL, and the sky is the limit both offensively and defensively with both of them in the lineup together.
For context and comparison, FanGraphs projects the Guardians to finish 82-81, and the White Sox to finish with just 76-wins. Every team in the AL East, aside from the Orioles, is looking at 82-wins or more, while the Astros are expected to win 90 games with the Mariners and A’s looking at 84-wins apiece.
That’s stiff competition in the American League, but it’s a lot less daunting than it was before the Correa deal.
Let’s not put the cart ahead of the horse, but the Twins making the playoff is absolutely on the table to the point that missing the postseason would be a critical failure. If everyone stays mostly healthy, Minnesota can easily contend in a traditionally weak AL Central and can put itself in a position to finally win a playoff series for the third time this century.