With Spring Training right around the corner, it's that time of the offseason where everyone is starting to make their projections for how next season will go. Thanks to how analytical and mathematical baseball is, things oftentimes sound better than they actually turn out.
Here's to hoping projection meets reality for the Minnesota Twins when it comes to the latest PECOTA standings. Each year Baseball Prospectus puts out its standings projection and this year's prediction is good news for the Twins.
Keep in mind that this is just a hypothesis based on various different data that was computed as part of a prediction algorithm. It's not an exact science, and it's not a guarinteed indicator of how things will turn out. For instance, alst year PECOTA had both the Mariners and Angels finishing ahead of the Rangers; two of those teams missed the playoffs and the other won the World Series.
Still, it's a good way to start getting an idea of what the lay of the land might look like and for the Twins things are once again looking pretty.
5. White Sox
3 takeaways from this year's PECOTA projections for AL Central
Twins are projected to win more games than they did in 2023
It's not much, but the PECOTA model has Minnesota winning one more game than it did last season. Perhaps most notable is how deep the projection has the Twins playing into October. With a near-80 percent chance of making the postseason by either winning the division or clinching a Wild Card spot, the Twins have over 50 percent odds of returning to the ALDS.
Keep in mind we're less than a year removed from the Twins winning a playoff series for the first time since 2002. This projection believes the streak will continue, or that the Twins will finish with a high enough win total that they'll clinch a first-round bye.
It's unlikely that 88 wins gets them there, though, so the fact that the curse is so dead that algorithms are predicting another postseason series victory is pretty encouraging.
Royals spending all of that money only marginally improved their outlook
One of the biggest frustrations of watching the Twins sit on their hands all winter was how the Kansas City Royals were having the type of offseason we thought Minnesota would have. The Royals lost over 100 games last year and chased that by spending over $100 million in free agency.
A lot of the players the Royals added felt like decent Twins targets: Seth Lugo, Hunter Renfroe, Michael Wacha.
The Twins were never going to add that sort of money to the payroll, even without the whole TV revenue drama, but it was annoying to watch a lesser team take bigger strides. It turns out those moves didn't really move the needle much. PECOTA has the Royals still finishing in fourth-place and with a less than 1 percent chance of making the playoffs.
Kansas City might be spicier than it was last season, but it may turn out that the free agency splash didn't ripple very deep into the season.
Cleveland will be hot on Minnesota's tail again
We sort of figured this might be the case. Despite all of the movement Detroit and Kansas City made, PECOTA still has the Cleveland Guardians as the closest team within striking distance of the Twins.
It's still not close enough, though.
Minnesota is projected to win the AL Central by five games. Last year the Twins won the division by nine games and it was Detroit that finished in second place, not Cleveland. To be fair, the Guardians were closer at the beginnig of September than they were at the end, but the Twins didn't waste a lot of time putting the Guardians in their place before running away with the division.
Like the Twins, Cleveland didn't really make any major additions this winter. The roster is mostly the same, although the young talent the Guardians had last year is expected to take another step forward. The big takeaway here is that Cleveland remains the biggest threat to Minnesota, and the Tigers continue to get disrespected despite all the progress the team has made.