MADISON, February 17, 2014 — Over the next few weeks this column will unveil MLB Power Rankings starting with the weakest team and working towards the strongest. Today the process continues by looking at number 24, the Minnesota Twins.
2013 Record: 66-96 with a -174 run differential.
Key Additions: RHP Ricky Nolasco, RHP Phil Hughes and OF Jason Kubel
Projected 2014 Lineup:
OF Alex Presley
2B Brian Dozier
1B Joe Mauer
OF Josh Willingham
OF Oswaldo Arcia
3B Trevor Plouffe
DH Jason Kubel
C Kurt Suzuki/Josmil Pinto
SS Pedro Florimon
Projected 2014 Rotation:
Vance Worley/Samuel Deduno
Best Case: Joe Mauer’s move to first base allows him to avoid more concussion like symptoms and stay healthy. He raises his average another fifteen points and add seven HR’s to his career averages. Josh Willingham bounces back from an off year in 2013 and posts a slash line similar to his career line of .256/.359/.471. Oswaldo Arcia builds on his debut and hits even more like he did in the minors. Miguel Sano destroys minor league pitching for the first half of the season alleviating concerns over his elbow and earns a second half promotion to Minnesota where balls continue to fly off his bat and over the fence. Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes strengthen the rotation and help the Twins anemic staff improve on its league worst 985 strikeouts. Glen Perkins continues to pitch like Glen Perkins allowing the team to have a stable bullpen, but also allowing the team to field offers for him at the trade deadline. The Twins finish fourth in the AL Central again, but much closer than the 27 games out they finished in 2013.
Worst Case: The change of scenery does not help Phil Hughes any good as he pitches 150 innings but posts an ERA over 4.50 with a WHIP north of 1.40. Jason Kubel’s return does not change the fact that his strikeout rate ballooned to 31.7% and his power seems to have disappeared. The Twins platooning of Kurt Suzuki and Josmil Pinto blows up in their face as Pinto struggles due to not receiving full time at bats. Miguel Sano’s contact issues manifest as he faces higher level pitching and he becomes more of a Pedro Alvarez than Giancarlo Stanton. The Twins finish last in the AL Central.
Prospect Watch: While this team is a far cry from the Twins playoff teams of the mid 2000s there is help on the way. OF Byron Buxton, the number two overall pick in the 2012 draft, is widely considered the top prospect in all of baseball. Buxton posted a .334/.424/.520 slash line across two levels in 2013, and has already drawn comparisons to Mike Trout and even Willie Mays. Buxton could be with the big club sometime in 2015, but before that Twins fans should expect the arrival of Miguel Sano. Sano has some of the best raw power in the minor leagues and posted a .280/.382/.610 slash line across two levels and ended last year in AA. While the two position prospects receive most of the attention, and rightly so, the Twins also have promising arms on the way with the likes of Alex Meyer, Kohl Stewart and Jose Berrios.Click here for reuse options!
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