Minnesota Twins 2015 Preview

07
Mar

2014 Record – 70-92, 5th AL Central

Key Additions

Ervin Santana, Torii Hunter

Key Departures

Josh Willingham

Projected 2015 Lineup

  1. SS Danny Santana
  2. 2B Brian Dozier
  3. 1B Joe Mauer
  4. LF Oswaldo Arcia
  5. DH Kennys Vargas
  6. 3B Trevor Plouffe
  7. RF Torii Hunter
  8. C Kurt Suzuki
  9. CF Aaron Hicks

Projected 2015 Starters

  1. Phil Hughes
  2. Ervin Santana
  3. Ricky Nolasco
  4. Kyle Gibson
  5. Tommy Milone

Breakdown

The team from the twin cities is in a place similar to where the Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs were last year. THey would likely be on the same exact timeline if top prospects Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton didn’t lose last year’s development due to injuries. However, they did and now the Twins are here. Youngsters like Oswaldo Arcia, Danny Santana, Trevor Plouffe, Kennys Vargas and Kyle Gibson will be supplemented by the higher upside guys like Buxton, Sano, and Alex Meyer.

Next season may be the time that the Twins decide to truly hit the free agent market and go for a top-tier player to add to the young corp. This season is our current worry though. They’ll be hoping for some competition and some improvement all around and to start sneaking toward that .500 level. However, one more year of a top pick and a development year all around will set them up solid going forward. Don’t expect to see Minnesota in a playoff battle, but get ready for them to take over the AL Central in the future.

X-Factor – Joe Mauer

Oh the sweet bliss of the past when the future is knocking down the door with several powerful bats. Mauer has been the face of Minnesota baseball for years. I once had a boss from Minnesota and I think there was some level of worship to Mauer going on. He built his name with OBP’s regularly at, around, or above .400, a truly amazing feat. Even a “down” year in 2014 was .360. His issue comes in the power department. He may have been better served without hitting 28 home runs in 2009.

Mauer should embrace his role as a high average, low power first baseman. It isn’t a popular skillset because of the lust for power in baseball. That doesn’t make it useless or even all that much less useful. According to Baseball-Reference, Mauer still prodcued above 4 offensive WAR in each of 2012 and 2014 despite hitting just 10 and 11 home runs each season. If Mauer returns to a near .400 (amazing that we should be expecting that from a 31-year-old) OBP, he could lead a surprise team in a wide open AL Central.

Most To Prove – Aaron Hicks

Hicks was the type of player that was a near-top prospect for his team in a farm system that wasn’t nearly as stacked as the current Twins system is. The young centerfielder will be trying to showcase his skills for the post-Buxton world in Minnesota. In 2014, Hicks upped his batting average…to .215. However, his on-base jumped up to a more than solid .341. He’s a great defensive player, but so is Buxton. The on-base skills despite the supreme strikeouts would be less of a problem if the power finally comes around. Until that day, Hicks is looking more like a defensive replacement/fourth outfielder type. The 25-year-old could also be on the trade block if he doesn’t prove something this year.

2015 Impact Prospect – Byron Buxton – CF

Last year’s near consensus top prospect in all of baseball faced adversity with an injury plagued and essentially wasted development year in 2014. However, the lost year hasn’t hurt his perceived value, and it shouldn’t. Buxton is one of the few players with five-tool (defense, arm, run, hit, power) talent. He’s going to be one of the most exciting players to watch for years to come. He could, I stress could, compete with Mike Trout in the future for best outfielder, but that’s if everything goes right, and I mean everything. Regardless, Buxton will be very exciting to watch and I can’t wait for him to stay healthy and get his cup of coffee in the majors this season.

Why They’re Worth Watching

Well that’s a tough one…see above I suppose.

Best Case

It’s tough to make the best case argument for these guys in any meaningful way. They have some sneaky power on this team and if some batting averages climb with a subsequent increase in their on-base, they could sneak close to a .500 record. 80-82

Worst Case

More injuries, more lack of hitting, and more lack of power pitching. It can’t get much lower than I expect, but let’s go with this. 62-100

Projected Record – 68-94

About the author: Colby Rogers

Colby is the Editor-in-Chief, Founder and Lead Contributor to Other League. Also a law student focusing on Labor & Employment law and intersections with law and sports. You can find him on Twitter via @Colby_OL.