Tag Archives: Twins

3rd Annual 30 in 30ish MLB Previews: Los Angeles Angels

The next AL West team in our continuing previews all 30 MLB teams leading up to the start of the 2017 season, is the Los Angeles Angels, who finished in fourth place in the division last season

Coming off a 74-88 season, the Angels made some trades intended to upgrade their offense, namely getting 2B Danny Espinosa from the Nationals and Cameron Maybin from the Tigers. They also made a swap of catchers, sending C Jett Bandy to the Brewers in exchange for C Martin Maldonado and a pitcher. In free agency, they signed 1B Luis Valbuena to a two-year contract, but a strained hamstring will cause him to miss four to six weeks, which opens the door for Jefry Marte and/or C.J. Cron to get more time at the position in the early part of the season. Other than that, the team remains largely intact from last season, including 2016 American League Cy Young winner Mike Trout manning center field. The starting rotation includes SPs Garrett Richards and Matt Shoemaker.

The Angels hit .260 last season, which ranked ninth in Major League Baseball, with 156 home runs, which were the sixth-fewest. They ranked in the bottom 10 with a .726 OPS. Trout hit .315 — 10th-best in the majors — with 29 home runs and a .991 OPS that was second-best in the majors. His 10.6 WAR was tops among all major leaguers. DH Albert Pujols led the team with 31 home runs and hit .268, which was 24 points higher than a season before. Cron hit .278 with 16 home runs, and OF Kole Calhoun hit .271 with 18 home runs. With the Astros last season, Valbuena hit .260 with 13 home runs. Espinosa hit 24 home runs but hit just .209 with Washington last season, and Maybin hit .315 with 4 home runs in 94 games with Detroit.

The pitching staff finished in the bottom half of the league with a 4.28 ERA and was last in the majors with 1,136 strikeouts. The bullpen wasn’t much better, saving 29 games, which was the third-fewest in MLB. Richards only made six starts, but he pitched well with a 2.34 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 34.2 innings over that limited sample size. Shoemaker posted a 3.88 ERA with 143 strikeouts in 160 innings. Veteran SP Ricky Nolasco, who was acquired midseason in a trade with the Twins, put up decent numbers in his 11 starts with the Angels, posting a 3.21 ERA, with 51 strikeouts in 73 innings. SP Tyler Skaggs, who spent much of the year on the disabled list, had a 4.17 ERA with 50 strikeouts in 49.2 innings over 10 starts. No reliever saved more than 10 games, with RP Huston Street leading the team with 9 saves while RPs Fernando Salas and Joe Smith each recorded 6. RP Cam Bedrosian, pitched in 45 games, striking out 51 batters in 40.1 innings as he put up a 1.12 ERA and recorded 1 save.

The offense should be improved this season with the acquisitions of Maybin, Espinosa and — when he returns — Valbuena, but the pitching is where the team will again suffer this season. There is no true ace in the rotation,though I suspect Showmaker could have a breakout season this year. And if Nolasco can continue the strong performance he had in the second half after coming to the team, it would help the team win more games. There’s no clear closer in the bullpen. Going by numbers, Bedrosian is probably the best option, but Street and RP Andrew Bailey both have experience in the position, which could sway old-school manager Mike Scioscia to use them in the role.

The division should be a three-team race again this season with the Rangers, Astros and Mariners competing for the top spot, leaving the Angels and A’s on the outside of the race. As was the case last year, the Angels are probably a better team than Oakland, which should help them avoid a last-place finish, but the Angels aren’t looking like they’ll be able to avoid another fourth-place finish in 2017.

Be sure to check back every day around 12pm Eastern for another team preview, see them all here, and follow me on Twitter for a link to each new post when it’s posted.

Source: http://www.angels.comhttp://www.baseball-reference.com

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3rd Annual 30 in 30ish MLB Previews: Minnesota Twins

The final AL Central team we preview in our monthlong series looking at all 30 MLB teams leading up to the start of the 2017 season is the Minnesota Twins, who came in last place in the division last season.

After winning 83 games in 2015, the bottom fell out for the Twins in 2016 and they ended the season with a 59-103 mark that was — by far — the worst record in the majors, nine games worse than any other team. Things got off to a bad start earlier this month when P Trevor May, who was expected to compete for a spot in the rotation, suffered a torn UCL that will likely require season-ending Tommy John surgery. The team didn’t make any notable moves this winter, with the most significant possibly being the addition of light-hitting C Jason Castro to take over starting duties behind the plate. He’ll be joining veteran 1B Joe Mauer and young players like DH Kennys Vargas and OF Byron Buxton on the offense. SP Ervin Santana leads a starting rotation that includes SPs Hector Santiago and Kyle Gibson.

The Twins finished with the 10th-worst batting average in Major League Baseball last season, .251, but their 200 home runs placed them in the top half of the league and 13 more than the MLB average. Their .738 OPS was just below the league average. 2B Brian Dozier led the offense with a .268 average and 42 home runs, tied for the third-most in the majors. He ended the season with a .886 OPS. 3B Miguel Sano, who takes over the position full-time in the absence of Trevor Plouffe, who is now with the A’s, hit .236 last year with 25 home runs, the second-most on the team. Mauer hit .261 with 11 home runs, which was more than he hit the previous year despite playing in 16 fewer games. In 92 games, Buxton hit .225 with 10 home runs. OF Max Kepler hit .260 with the 17 home runs.

Pitching is where the team really struggled last season, finishing with a 5.08 ERA, the worst in the American League and second-worst in MLB, and 1,191 strikeouts, which was the fifth-fewest in the majors. As you’d expect with the team with the worst record in the majors, the Twins had the fewest saves with just 26, fewer than 18 pitchers recorded individually. Santana was the best of the bunch, posting a 3.38 ERA with 149 strikeouts in 181.1 innings. Gibson put up a 5.07 ERA with 104 strikeouts in 147.1 innings. And it just gets worse from there in the rotation. In the bullpen, RP Brandon Kintzler posted a 3.15 ERA with 35 strikeouts in 54.1 innings while recording 17 saves — not numbers representative of a good closer.

Looking ahead at 2017, there’s not much reason for optimism because they didn’t add any significant pieces to their roster in the offseason. If some of the younger players, particularly Buxton, can improve their stats the Twins may get some extra wins that they would have lost last year, but that’s not likely to cause a big improvement in their record. One thing the Twins have going for them is the eventual return of RP Glen Perkins, who had 30-plus saves each season from 2013-2015 but pitched in just two games in 2016 due to labrum surgery. He probably won’t be ready at the start of the season, but he should get the closer’s role back upon his return, and should do better at the end of games than Kintzler did last year.

The best the Twins can hope for this year is probably to avoid losing 100 games. Not exactly a lofty goal, but it’s probably the most realistic goal they can set with the roster they have. They’re probably going to win a few more games than last year because it’s hard to win fewer than 60 games in a season, but they will again be down there as one of the worst teams in the majors.

Be sure to check back every day around 12pm Eastern for another team preview, see them all here, and follow me on Twitter for a link to each new post when it’s posted.

Source: http://www.mntwins.comhttp://www.baseball-reference.com

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3rd Annual 30 in 30ish MLB Previews: Chicago White Sox

The AL Central teams are up next in our monthlong series previewing all 30 MLB teams leading up to the start of the 2017 season, with the Chicago White Sox, who came in fourth place in the division last season, up first.

The White Sox are clearly looking toward the future, having traded one of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball and one of the team’s best hitters this offseason. The team traded SP Chris Sale to the Red Sox for a package of four players highlighted by 3B Yoan Moncada, then a day later traded OF Adam Eaton to the Nationals in exchange for SP Lucas Giolito and two other players. Moncada and Giolito are the players acquired in those deals who are closest to being in the majors, but neither is guaranteed to end up with a roster spot when the season starts. The team signed SP Derek Holland, who will likely slot into the bottom of the rotation while SP Jose Quintana is the definitive No. 1 starter with Sale in Boston. 1B Jose Abreu and 3B Todd Frazier will lead the offensive attack for the White Sox. The offense will be without 2B Brett Lawrie, who the White Sox released in March after one season with the team.

The White Sox finished in the top half of MLB last season with a .257 average, but their 168 home runs were the ninth fewest in the majors. The team’s .727 OPS also finished in the bottom 10 of the league. Abreu was the team’s best hitter overall, hitting .293 with 25 home runs and a .820 OPS. Frazier led the team in home runs with a career-high 40  — eighth-most in the majors — but that went with a career-low .225 average, 30 points lower than what he hit in 2015. Frazier finished the season with a .767 OPS. OF Melky Cabrera hit. 296 with 14 home runs.

The pitchers posted a 4.10 ERA, which placed them near the middle of the league. They finished the season with a below-average 1,270 strikeouts, and the bullpen ended up with 43 saves, which was right on the MLB average. Quintana led the starting rotation with a 3.20 ERA. He also struck out 181 batters in 208 innings in 32 starts. Young SP Carlos Rodon started 28 games and put up decent numbers, a 4.04 ERA and 168 strikeouts in 165 innings. SP Miguel Gonzalez put up a 3.73 ERA. With the Rangers last year, Holland pitched in 22 games — 20 starts — with a 4.95 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 107.1 innings. RP David Robertson saved 37 games in 44 opportunities, to go along with a 3.47 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 62. 1 innings. RP Nate Jones had a good season in a setup role, throwing 70.2 innings with a 2.29 ERA and 80 strikeouts.

There’s a lot of youth in the White Sox lineup this season, with the likes of SS Tim Anderson and C Omar Narvaez expected to get the starting jobs at their positions coming out of spring training. OF Charlie Tilson was also on track to land a starting job, but a recent foot injury will likely prevent that from happening. Abreu and Frazier are likely going to have to carry the team offensively as the young players adapt to major-league pitching. Quintana is a viable ace, but without Sale there’s not a strong No. 2 to slot in behind him. Rodon could eventually be that guy, but he has been pretty inconsistent in his first two seasons in the league. He’ll have to step up if he wants to be that guy to put up good numbers behind Quintana in the rotation. Robertson and Jones should be able to keep a lead when they get one handed to them, if they continue to pitch like they did last year.

Being in the same division as the Twins could be the only thing that saves the White Sox from being a last-place team this year. After trading away Sale and Eaton, the White Sox are clearly going to take a step backwards this season and are probably looking at 70-75 wins after winning 78 games in 2016. It’s a period of rebuilding for the White Sox that is probably going to take at least another couple of years, so White Sox fans should expect sub-.500 teams for the foreseeable future.

Be sure to check back every day around 12pm Eastern for another team preview, see them all here, and follow me on Twitter for a link to each new post when it’s posted.

Source: http://www.whitesox.comhttp://www.baseball-reference.com


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MLB Weekly: Trades galore as the deadline approaches

In this week’s MLB Weekly, trades are dominating the news as the non-waiver deadline approaches on Monday.

Looking Back

Traditionally, the non-waiver trade deadline is on July 31, but with that date falling on a Sunday this year, Major League Baseball decided to push the deadline back a day to August 1, giving teams an extra day to complete deals. A number of contenders aren’t waiting until the 11th hour, though, and have made trades this week in hopes of improving their teams.

The Blue Jays are among the most-active contenders on the market this week. making two deals on Tuesday. In one, the current AL East leaders added offensive depth by acquiring OF Melvin Upton Jr. from the Padres for a minor leaguer. The other was a swap of relievers, with the Blue Jays sending RP Drew Storen to the Mariners in exchange for RP Joaquin Benoit.

The first deal made this week saw the NL Central-leading Cubs looking to boost their bullpen’s performance by acquiring RP Aroldis Chapman from the Yankees in exchange for a quartet of players, including P Adam Warren and three minor leaguers, led by former international free-agent signee SS Gleyber Torres, who was one of the Cubs’ top prospects in their farm system. Giving up the young talent for Chapman, who is in the final year of his contract and will likely command big bucks on the free-agent market as one of the game’s top closers, shows that the Cubs are in win-now mode and are willing to give up some talent for the future if it helps them get their first World Series title in more than 100 years this season.

In other notable trades this week, the Marlins — who are currently tied with the Cardinals for the second Wild Card in the National League — acquired veteran SPs Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea from the Padres and sent some prospects from San Diego, who made a number of moves aimed at dumping high salaries and getting young talent for a rebuilding effort. The NL West-leading Giants hope to hold their slim lead over the Dodgers after getting IF Eduardo Nunez from the Twins by trading minor league P Adalberto Mejia.

Elsewhere in MLB, with August starting tomorrow time is running out for teams to make up ground in the standings and get into the playoff picture. In the American League, the AL East is the closest division, with the Blue Jays at the top but the Orioles and Red Sox both within two games. The Indians currently hold a 4.5-game lead over the Tigers in the AL Central, and the Rangers’ lead in the AL West is currently at five games over the Astros, who have lost ground on Texas in the last week. The Orioles and Red Sox currently hold the two Wild Cards in the American League, with the Tigers and Astros both within 1.5 games and the Mariners and Yankees within striking distance.

In the National League, the NL West is the only division that seems to still be in play as we enter August this week, with the Dodgers two games behind the Giants. The Nationals currently hold a five-game lead over the Marlins in the NL East, and the Cubs’ lead in the Central stands at 6.5 games over the Cardinals. In the Wild Card, the Dodgers hold the first Wild Card, with the Marlins and Cardinals tied for the second. Of the teams on the outside looking in, the Mets, Pirates and Rockies are the only teams with a realistic shot at catching the Wild Card leaders, all no more than four games back.

The Week Ahead

The Mets and Yankees Subway Series.

The Mets and Yankees play a home-and-home in a four-game Subway Series this week.

As we take a look at this week’s schedule, there are a couple of key four-game series between American League playoff contenders getting underway Monday as the Red Sox visit the Mariners and the Astros host the Blue Jays. New Yorkers’ eyes will be on the Subway Series, though, as the Mets and Yankees play four games against each other, with the first two at Citi Field and the back pair at Yankee Stadium. The Astros play another important series later in the week, hosting the Rangers beginning Friday as they attempt to make up some ground on the division leaders. Both NL West contenders also have important series starting Friday, with the Giants heading to D.C. to take on the Nationals and the Dodgers hosting the Red Sox.

This week’s probable pitchers could be a little more subject to change than usual pending any more trades that are made by Monday’s deadline. Having said that, here’ a look at some of the pitching performances expected this week. Rangers SP Yu Darvish looks to continue his post-DL comeback when he takes the Camden Yards mound against the Orioles on Tuesday. White Sox SP James Shields hopes to continue his streak of six straight quality starts Tuesday at the Tigers. Citi Field could be home to a pitcher’s duel Tuesday when Yankees SP Masahiro Tanaka and Mets SP Jacob deGrom get the starts for their respective teams. White Sox SP Chris Sale, who has been surrounded by controversy in recent weeks, is scheduled to pitch Wednesday at the Tigers — if the White Sox don’t trade him before then.

Marlins 2B Dee Gordon

MLB Weekly: Batting champ suspended, playoff teams struggling

In this week’s MLB Weekly, we take a look at a lengthy suspension for a reigning batting champion and a couple of last year’s playoff teams who are struggling this year.

Looking Back

Marlins 2B Dee Gordon set career highs last season in batting average (.333), hits (205) and steals (58) on his way to winning the National League batting title. He was hitting just .266 in the 21 games he played this season when the league announced this week that Gordon has been suspended without pay for 80 games for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. He tested positive during spring training for two banned substances, exogenous testosterone and clostebol. Although the failed tests came during March, he had been playing during the appeal process, which he dropped on Friday when he accepted the suspension despite claiming he did not “knowingly” take prohibited substances. The 28-year-old, who is the son of former major league closer Tom Gordon, parlayed last year’s successful season into a five-year, $50 million contract with the Marlins this offseason.

The Astros and Yankees played each other in one of the Wild Card games in last year’s playoffs, but if the first month of the season is any indication neither team will make a repeat trip to the postseason. Entering Sunday, only the Braves had a worse record than the Astros, whose 7-17 mark was tied with the Twins for the second-worst record in the majors. The Yankees aren’t faring much better, with a record of 8-14, putting them in last place in the AL East. Both teams’ struggles involve pitching, as they hold the two worst staff ERAs in the American League. They rank a little better in batting average, and the Astros, who still haven’t won two games in a row, are tied for the third-most home runs in the AL.

Looking at teams who are doing well, Chicago continues to be the center of the baseball world this spring, with the Cubs and White Sox both holding the best records in their respective leagues entering Sunday’s action. The Cubs got a scare during the week when 3B Kris Bryant appeared to injure his ankle, but the MRI came back negative and he returned to action today. Their pitching continues to shine, with the second-best ERA in the National League, led by SP Jake Arrieta. The White Sox have the AL’s best ERA (2.72), buoyed by sub-2.00 ERAs from SPs Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and, surprisingly, Mat Latos. In the bullpen, closer David Robertson is throwing well, with a 0.87 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 10.1 innings; he is also 8-for-9 in save opportunities.

Elsewhere in MLB, the Phillies continue to surprise people with a 15-10 record, which is good for just third place in the NL East behind the Nationals and Mets. It remains to be seen if they’ll be able to keep up that pace throughout the season, but as long as their pitching continues to perform at the level it has been, with the fifth-best ERA (3.79) in the National League, they will have a chance to remain in the thick of things in the division, sitting 2.5 games back in the division entering Sunday.

The Week Ahead

Pirates OF Andrew McCutchen

Pirates OF Andrew McCutchen batting against the Cubs

Taking a look at series to watch for this week, the White Sox and Red Sox do battle Tuesday through Thursday in Chicago in a series featuring teams competing for the top spot in their divisions. The Rangers visit the Blue Jays for four games starting Friday in a rematch of one of the American League Divisional Series from the 2015 postseason. The Cubs travel to Pittsburgh for a three-game set with the Pirates Monday through Wednesday in a key NL Central series. Later in the week, the Yankees host the Red Sox in a weekend series that could help the Yankees climb back up toward contending in the division. And the top two teams in the National League have a four-game set Thursday through Sunday, when Bryce Harper and the Nationals travel to Wrigley Field to take on the Cubs.

Some scheduled pitching matchups of note this week include the Cubs-Pirates series finale, with Cubs SP Jon Lester, who has a 1.83 ERA, taking on Pirates SP Juan Nicasio, who has had a good season so far. SP Stephen Strasburg puts his perfect 4-0 record on the line Wednesday against the reigning World Series-champion Royals. As things stand now, there is a nice pitching matchup in Toronto on Friday, with 3-1 Dodgers SP Kenta Maeda and 4-0 Blue Jays SP Marcus Stroman slated to take the mound.

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2nd Annual 30 in 30ish MLB Previews: Over/under and playoff picks

Now that we’ve previewed the 2016 season of all 30 MLB teams, let’s take a look at how the season is going to play out. In this post, we’ll be analyzing Vegas over/under totals for each team and pick the teams that will make the playoffs.

NL East

Atlanta Braves: 66.5
They won 67 games last year and added some pieces to their offense, like SS Erick Aybar, but lost their best pitcher in SP Shelby Miller. Overall, I think they’ll win at least as many games as they did last year, which would be an Over.

Miami Marlins: 79.5
They have one of the best power hitters in OF Giancarlo Stanton and a good young pitcher with SP Jose Fernandez, who should be in the running for the Cy Young Award if he can stay healthy. Stanton is surrounded by some young hitters. I think 79.5 is too many wins, so I’m going Under.

New York Mets: 89.5
Again, this number basically equals the 90 games the Mets won last season. They’ll have OF Yoenis Cespedes for the whole season, plus one of the best starting rotations in the league, led by SPs Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. They’ll play a lot of games against bad teams in the Braves and Mets. I think they can get back to 90, so this is another Over.

Philadelphia Phillies: 65.5
The Phillies are a bad team. They won 63 games last season. They lost a key piece of their offense with the departure of OF Ben Revere and they don’t have  a good pitching staff, which could be a problem when playing teams like the Mets and Nationals. Under.

Washington Nationals: 89.5
They’re going to compete with the Mets for the best team in the division. OF Bryce Harper is one of the best hitters in the majors, and they added Revere to their offense. They’ll likely get more out of OF Jayson Werth than they did last season. On the mound, they have SPs Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. They have a good team, and I’ll go Over.

AL East

Baltimore Orioles: 79.5
The Orioles have some good hitters — namely 1B Chris Davis and 3B Manny Machado — but lack a great rotation. Closer Zach Britton can get the job done to finish games when the starters give him a lead. They won 81 last year, I think they can get up to 80 this year so that’s an Over.

Boston Red Sox: 86.5
We’re looking at a big number for a team that won 78 games in 2015, but adding SP David Price is huge for the rotation. If OF Hanley Ramirez can bounce back from a difficult season last year, that would be a key piece for the Red Sox to turn things around. I think they’ll finish above .500 in DH David Ortiz‘s last season before retirement, but I don’t think they’re quite to 87 wins yet so I’m going Under.

New York Yankees: 85.5
The Yankees are an old team. I don’t think anyone expects DH Alex Rodriguez to come close to the numbers he put up last year. There are question marks in the rotation, especially with veteran SP CC Sabathia, but they have a strong bullpen in the late innings. They won 87 games last year, but I think they’re going Under this year.

Tampa Bay Rays: 81.5
SP Chris Archer proved himself to be one of the best pitchers in the majors last season, but they don’t have much else in the rotation. Outside of 3B Evan Longoria, the Rays don’t have many big-time hitters. After winning 80 games last year, I think they’re around 80-81 again so it’ll be close, but I’m going Under.

Toronto Blue Jays: 87.5
The Blue Jays won 93 games last season, and I don’t see them being much worse this season, especially with SP Marcus Stroman healthy. They still have the reigning AL MVP with 3B Josh Donaldson and OF Jose Bautista. I’m surprised this number is so low because I think they’re winning more than 90 again,so this is an easy Over.

NL Central

Chicago Cubs: 92.5
Many people are all-in on the Cubs this season, after winning 97 games last season. SP Jake Arrieta  and 3B Kris Bryant are expected to lead the way again this season. It’s a tough division with the Pirates and Cardinals there, but I’ve got to go Over with the Cubs.

Cincinnati Reds: 70.5
The Reds won 64 games last season, and I don’t see how they’re much better this year. They traded away RP Aroldis Chapman, one of the best closers in the majors and they’re just not a good team. Under.

Milwaukee Brewers: 69.5
OF Ryan Braun is the best hitter on the Brewers, and C Jonathan Lucroy also has a good bat if he’s healthy after being injured much of last season. But they don’t have much else on the team and I don’t see them getting 70 wins, so it’s Under with them.

Pittsburgh Pirates: 86.5
After 98 wins last season, I’m not sure how the over/under number is this low. They didn’t lose anyone from the core of their team, so I expect OF Andrew McCutchen and SP Gerrit Cole to help lead them to well over 90 games again. This one’s an easy Over.

St. Louis Cardinals: 87.5
Again, after a 100-win season a year ago, the Cardinals’ number is this low? They’re getting SP Adam Wainwright back after he missed essentially all of 2015 on the DL. Like with the Pirates, this is an easy Over.

AL Central

Chicago White Sox: 80.5
The White Sox added offense this offseason, with 2B Brett Lawrie and 3B Todd Frazier joining 1B Jose Abreu. SP Chris Sale is among the best in the game and SP Carlos Rodon could be a good young pitcher. They’re improved over last season, when they won 78 games, so I think they’ll go Over 80.5.

Cleveland Indians: 84.5
The Indians’ success this season could depend on young guys, like SS Francisco Lindor. If he can step up to the next level, he could be a leader for the offense. They won 81 games last season, and I think they could be a game or two better in 2016, but I’m thinking Under for this number.

Detroit Tigers: 81.5
The Tigers only won 74 games last season, but I think they underperformed some. They added OF Justin Upton and SP Jordan Zimmermann to the mix this season. But SP Justin Verlander is key to this team. If he has a good season, the Tigers could contend for the division. Either way, I think they’ll go Over 81.5 wins, potentially more like 86 or 87 wins if Verlander returns to his old form.

Kansas City Royals: 85.5
The defending World Series champions are coming off of a 95-win season. I don’t expect them to reach that number again, especially with the White Sox and Tigers both improved this season, but 85.5 seems like a low number so I’ll go Over.

Minnesota Twins: 78.5
Unlike the Tigers, I think the Twins overperformed last season when they won 83 games. I don’t think they were that good, and without any major additions in the offseason, I still don’t think they’re very good. They’ll be a sub-.500 team, but I think they’ll get close to .500 so I’ll reluctantly go Over and say 79 or 80 wins.

NL West

Arizona Diamondbacks: 82.5
The Diamondbacks won 78 games last season but have now lost added SPs Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller to the rotation and have a good offense with 1B Paul Goldschmidt, but they may have lost OF A.J. Pollock for the season with an elbow injury. They improved significantly this winter, so I’m going Over.

Colorado Rockies: 70.5
They won 68 last year and I think they may actually do a little worse than that this year. They don’t have starting pitching and there’s no telling when SS Jose Reyes may be able to play as rookie SS Trevor Story starts the season filling in for him. Despite having OF Carlos Gonzalez, I’m going Under for the Rockies.

Los Angeles Dodgers: 88.5
The Dodgers have the highest payroll in the majors and perhaps the best pitcher in SP Clayton Kershaw, but they lost SS Zack Greinke to the Diamondbacks and they have some injury concerns on offense. They had 92 wins last year en route to a division title but I don’t see it happening again. I think it’ll be close, but I’m going Under, which would likely be a disappointing season for the Dodgers.

San Diego Padres: 72.5
The Padres won 74 games last year. They added OF Jon Jay in the offseason but lost 2B Jedd Gyorko and OF Justin Upton. I think SP Colin Rea is going to have a breakout season in the rotation, helping to get the team Over 72.5 wins.

San Francisco Giants: 89.5
The Giants won 84 games in 2015, then added SPs Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzjia to the rotation and OF Denard Span to the offense. They still have the likes of OF Hunter Pence, C Buster Posey and SP Madison Bumgarner, making them a formidable team in the West. They have a well-rounded team that I think can reach 90 wins, so I’m going Over.

AL West

Houston Astros: 87.5
The surprising Astros won 86 games last year and now have SS Carlos Correa in the majors for the whole season to go along with 2B Jose Altuve. Reigning Cy Young winner SP Dallas Keuchel should have another good season at the top of the rotation. Over.

Los Angeles Angels: 81.5
Coming off of an 85-win season, the Angels face a tough battle in the division. The offense should be fine with OF Mike Trout and 1B Albert Pujols, but there are concerns about the pitching staff, with SP  C.J. Wilson expected to miss the first month or so of the season. I think the Angels should finish the season above .500, so I’ll go Over.

Oakland Athletics: 75.5
The A’s won 68 games as a last-place team last season and I don’t see how they’re going to be much better in 2016. They added OFs Khris Davis and Chris Coghland, but they’re not game-changers for a team. SP Sonny Gray should have a decent year out of the No. 1 spot in the rotation, but I don’t see the A’s winning eight more games than they did last year, so this is an Under.

Seattle Mariners: 82.5
The Mariners should be on the upswing after acquiring OF Leonys Martin, 1B Adam Lind and SP Wade Miley this winter so they should surpass the 76 wins they had last year, but 82.5 is a big jump. I don’t think they’re there yet, so I’ll go Under for them.

Texas Rangers: 84.5
The Rangers won 88 games last season, and that was with just half a season with SP Cole Hamels, who underperformed with the team, and they’ll now get a full season with him. They added SS Ian Desmond to a roster with DH Prince Fielder and 3B Adrian Beltre. They should get a boost a couple months into the season when SP Yu Darvish is expected to return from Tommy John surgery. I don’t see them winning four fewer games than last season, so I’m going Over for the defending division champs.


Playoff Picks

National League

NL East Champs: New York Mets
NL Central Champs: Chicago Cubs
NL West Champs: San Francisco Giants
NL Wild Cards: Pirrsburgh PIrates, Washington Nationals

American League

AL East Champs: Toronto Blue Jays
AL Central Champs: Kansas City Royals
AL West Champs: Texas Rangers
AL Wild Cards: Houston Astros, Detroit Tigers

World Series: Blue Jays over Cubs in 6 games

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2nd Annual 30 in 30ish MLB Previews: Minnesota Twins

The final AL Central team we preview in our monthlong series looking at all 30 MLB teams leading up to the start of the 2016 season is the Minnesota Twins, who came in second place in the division last season.

With their first winning season since 2010, the Twins finished in second place in the AL Central last season, but were still 12 games back of the division champion Royals. The Twins didn’t do much during the offseason, with their only big free-agent signing coming in the form of DH Byung-ho Park, who is making his debut in Major League Baseball this season, coming over from the Korea Baseball Organization. where he won two MVP awards. Whether Park can make the transition to the American game is one question the Twins face heading into 2016. Another question is how will young OFs Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano, who is making the transition from third base, do in their first full season in the majors? And will veteran 1B Joe Mauer continue his offensive decline as he enters his 13th major league season? The starting rotation is also questionable without a bona fide ace on the roster, with SP Phil Hughes currently slotted into that role on the depth chart.

The Twins’ offense finished in the bottom half of the American League last season, with a .247 average, 156 home runs and 661 RBI. Among their regular starters, Sano led the team with a .269 average despite playing in just 80 games after being called up from the minors. When that is the highest average on the team, there’s little surprise they ranked second-to-last in the league in that stat category. They did better in the power department, with three 20-homer guys, with 2B Brian Dozier leading the squad with 28 home runs, but he hit just .236 and had as many strikeouts as hits — 148 each. Mauer’s average continued its decline, dropping to .265 last season, but the 158 games he played was the most of his career, which helped him hit 10 home runs, up significantly from the 4 he hits the previous season. The team’s 4.07 ERA was the sixth worst in the AL and their pitching staff struck out the fewest batters in the league, at 1,046. Hughes posted a 4.40 ERA and struck out just 94 batters in 155.1 innings last season. SP Kyle Gibson led the rotation with a 3.84 ERA in 32 starts. Even closer Glen Perkins didn’t have a great season, with a 3.32 ERA, which is high for a reliever.

The key to the Twins’ offense is going to be getting good sophomore seasons from the likes of Buxton and Sano. Buxton’s speed is his best asset on offense, so if he can steal bases and help produce runs, that would help with the team’s lack of power. Sano, on the other hand, is known for his power — he hit 33 home runs last year total between the majors and minors. So if he can put up those numbers in a full season at the major league level, that would definitely help the team score more and win more games. Park had 210 home runs and a .281 average in nine seasons in the Korean League. He’ll have to translate those numbers to the majors to give the Twins the help they wanted out of him when they signed the 29-year-old. The pitching likely won’t see much improvement, with the only addition being Kennedy and his career 3.98 ERA.

The Twins won 83 games last season, but that seems to be higher than you would expect from the way the team performed. With the roster this season largely the same as last season, I’m not expecting much of the same as 2015, but I think the Twins may end the season with a worse record this season as other teams in the division, including the Tigers, improved over the offseason.

Be sure to check back every day at 12pm Eastern for another team preview, see them all here, and follow me on Twitter for a link to each new post when it’s posted.

Source: http://www.mntwins.comhttp://www.baseball-reference.com

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