Spring training has arrived! All Twins pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to camp today, February 13. The first workout will be February 15 and the first game will be February 24. It’s an exciting time to be a baseball fan!
As you all know, the Twins have been through a LOT since the start of last season. The team finished 2016 with its worst record in franchise history. The team shook up management after former general manager Terry Ryan was fired in the middle of last season. Minnesota has made several changes to its coaching staff and roster throughout the off-season. Below are some of my thoughts (and predictions) on the 2017 Twins:
Though the Twins may trade second baseman Brian Dozier at a later date, I am very happy he was not traded this off-season. Trading Dozier, who hit 42 home runs last season, would essentially mean Minnesota has given up on 2017, since Dozier was by far the best offensive player last year. If Dozier has a good first half of 2017 and the team doesn’t, expect trade rumors surrounding Dozier to resurface.
I am very interested to see how the team does under new Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey and General Manager Thad Levine. Falvey last worked for the 2016 AL champion Cleveland Indians and Levine for the 2016 AL West champion Texas Rangers. Falvey and Levine seem to understand the importance of analytics in baseball today, something Terry Ryan did not.
Perhaps the biggest question facing the Twins in 2017 is starting pitching. Last year’s starting rotation was awful. Jose Berrios needs to be better this year after not getting even close to living up to high expectations last season. I expect Phil Hughes to be better now that he is healthy. Kyle Gibson also needs to be much better than last year, as he is crucial to the team’s future. Click for more on questions facing the Twins as the team heads into spring training.
I predict first baseman/designated hitter Byung Ho Park will have a bounceback year. Park, who struggled and was injured last year, was designated for assignment February 3. He was sent to AAA Rochester after clearing waivers. If Park stays healthy, he could have a breakout year.
Although I hope the Twins will win the division in 2017 (and the World Series!), that is not being realistic. My realistic prediction is that the Twins will win 75 games in 2017, about 15 games better than last year, and will finish fourth in the AL Central with an outside chance of finishing third. I think the pitching will keep the team from having a better year. Hopefully I’m wrong and the Twins shock the baseball world in 2017! Anything can happen! After all, the Cubs did win the World Series last year!
What do you expect from the Twins in 2017?
Written by: Sam Graves