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Minnesota Twins 2019 Fantasy Projections – A Hot Time in the Old Twin Cities
A Twins legend retired at the end of the 2018 season, a so too with Joe Mauer ended an era in Minnesota. The Twin Cities will welcome a new manager in Rocco Baldelli and a new age coaching staff to mirror management's aspirations for the franchise. To say this Twins team isn't talented would be a gross understatement. Now, will it equate to success on the field?
Minnesota Twins 2018 Recap
Minnesota actually fell backwards a little in 2018. While they finished 17 games out of first in their own division a year earlier, that was behind the best team in the American League.
The 2017 team earned the second wildcard spot, and hopes were they could contend with Cleveland for the division, if not another win-and-your-in one-game wildcard. Injuries to key players and a drop off in pitching performance knocked seven victories off their 2017 win column total,
Albeit a drop off, they were four games closer to the Indians at season's end. However, 78 wins wasn't anywhere near what was needed to earn a playoff spot. The step back in production led to a changeover in the dugout and the entrance of Baldelli.
2019 Fantasy Pitchers Projections – The Best of the Twins Staff
Twins pitching took the biggest step backwards in 2018. One reason they stayed in the AL Central race in spite of average day-to-day performances was the spectacular start to Fernando Romero's career. Romero started out like an all-star, only to fall back to reality and end up being demoted back to the minors.
He is currently not slated for one of the Twins five rotation spots, but fantasy owners should keep an eye on his progress. José Berríos is clearly the ace of the Minnesota staff. After Berríos, things become a lot iffier. Kyle Gibson and Jake Odorizzi throw a lot of pitches to get batters out, so they don't post big inning points.
Michael Pineda, once of New York Yankee fame, is an intriguing number four starter to keep a fantasy eye on. He will benefit from a defense-minded team philosophy and a matchup against an opponent's number four starter.
José Berríos SP – Berríos has fantasy stud potential. He struck out more than a batter per inning last season, and his WHIP has dropped each of the last three seasons. He brings heat, but has reasonable control for a power pitcher.
Since his horrible rookie season, Berríos has an ERA below 4.00. With an even greater focus on a small-ball, low scoring team philosophy, his numbers could even improve.
2019 Fantasy Hitter Projections – The Best Bats in the Twin Cities
Minnesota has seemed to be where prime prospect hitters come to die recently. Max Kepler has baffled scouts, and Miguel Sanó even more so. Sanó did battle injuries in 2018, but a batting average below .200 is not fantasy worthy at a loaded third base position.
Eddie Rosario has now hit over 20 home runs in back-to-back seasons, plus his batting average hovers around the .300 mark. He will be projected in the three-hole this season, now backed by a proven power commodity in Nelson Cruz.
Jorge Polanco is a decent hitting shortstop, but as the Twins leadoff hitter a lot will depend on his ability to score runs. The biggest question mark must be Byron Buxton. Buxton probably isn't even close to being fantasy worthy, coming off injury and always being deemed an underachiever.
However, he is one of a whole Twins lineup to keep an eye on in 2019. While Kepler, Sanó and Rosario are all going to generate middle to late round interest, most are wait-and-see candidates. Each of these hitters will be snatched off waivers in an instant if they begin to produce at the talent level they have been projected for in the past.
Nelson Cruz DH – Nelson Cruz has been a fantasy must-own no matter what town he's played in. As the Twins cleanup hitter in 2019, Cruz again warrants a fantasy roster spot. He is limited to only the DH spot in most leagues, which restricts is usability. In the AL, with only 15 top DH hitters, Cruz sits below the middle. He could rekindle his power numbers, and that would make 100 RBIs a realistic target.
Miguel Sanó 3B – Sanó needs to find his swing again. His home run totals were improving until his season was chances were reduced by injury in 2018. The biggest problem wasn't so much a drop off in power, but a huge increase in the number of pitches he missed. His batting average took a tumble and his slugging percentage fell as well. The problem with Sanó is that he is an obvious talent. Sanó is also one bat that the Twins are counting on to revive itself to help them score runs in 2019.
Fantasy Rank Team
Minnesota is as much a wait-and-see team from a fantasy perspective as there is in baseball. Falling off their projected course in 2018 has tempered expectations. Other than their top starter, they are not the best place to look for fantasy pitching. When it comes to runs, a lot will be revealed after their new head coach has a few games under his belt.
The Bottom Line in the Twin Cities
There are some in baseball who feel that the Minnesota Twins could be a surprise team in 2019. For two years they seemed to be on a guarded, but steadily improving course. Rocco Baldelli will bring a new sense of enthusiasm to the locker room guaranteed. If that enthusiasm equates to equal expectations, it could be a hot time in the old Twin Cities in 2019.