2018 Twins: Can Minnesota Repeat Historic 2017 Showing?

Willie Bee

Friday, March 2, 2018 12:33 PM UTC

Friday, Mar. 2, 2018 12:33 PM UTC

From last place in the AL Central to the playoffs the Minnesota Twins went last season, but MLB futures suggest they’ll take a small step backward this time around.

If you could only use one word to describe the Minnesota Twins' 2017 season, what would it be? Amazing? Terrific? Awesome? Surprising? None of those words would be incorrect, but the one word that more aptly describes Minnesota’s run to the playoffs is unprecedented after the Twins became the first team in MLB history to reach the postseason one year after losing 100+ games.

It was indeed an amazing turnaround for Paul Molitor’s crew. Minnesota was supposed to have battled the Chicago White Sox for the AL Central basement, a race they both lost to the Detroit Tigers, and seemed a strong bet to lose 90 games. Instead, the Twins won 85 (blowing past oddsmakers' spring total of 74.5) and got help in the form of disappointing seasons by the Kansas City Royals, Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers to reach the American League playoffs as the second wild card.

Santana Injured & A Volatile Closer To Begin Campaign

Looking forward, the question is can the Twins do it again? Bookmaker has Minnesota a respectable +400 pick to win the AL Central, but that is a very distant second to the Cleveland Indians at a chalky -700, and win totals project the Twinkies to finish just above .500 in a fight with the Angels, Blue Jays and Mariners for the No. 2 wild card once again.

If it all starts with pitching, then Minnesota is starting behind the 8-ball with Ervin Santana out through April following surgery on his right hand. Good thing the club added Jake Odorizzi in a trade from Tampa Bay. He’ll join Jose Berrios and Kyle Gibson at the top of the rotation, oft-injured veterans Anibal Sanchez and Phil Hughes battling young Adalberto Mejia for the back end. That could prove to be a decent bunch, but having Fernando Rodney as your closer always leaves me queasy when playing the MLB odds. Addison Reed is the closer-in-waiting, with Taylor Rogers and Trevor Hildenberger the primary 7th-inning arms.

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What's the vibe in #TwinsST following the @Twins' first trip to the Postseason since 2010?@OfficialBuck103 joined Harold and Fran to discuss on #MLBNHotStove! pic.twitter.com/DsVPEjZpaE

— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) March 1, 2018
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Buxton Leads A Potentially Strong Lineup

If the mound corps can hold it together and just have a middling season, the offense could take the Twins to the upper 80s in wins. From August on last year, no team scored more runs than the Twins (346), and much of that is owed to Byron Buxton returning from his short demotion. The 24-year-old hit nearly .300 over the final two months, recording a 3-HR game and stealing 12 bags. He tops a very talented young OF trio with Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler. Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer man the right side of the infield, but a question lingers about Miguel Sano at third. Sano, an All-Star, was injured at the end of last season and reported to camp carrying extra weight plus has the weight of a sexual assault investigation.

Having Rodney close games and the potential for Sano to start the season serving a suspension scare me, but the schedule does favor the Twins. I’ll bite on an ‘over’ play for my free baseball pick.

Free MLB Pick: Over 82½ WinsBest Line Offered: BetOnline
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