2006 Team Preview: Minnesota Twins
by Keith Glab, Baseball Evolution
March 1, 2006



2005 Record: 83-79 (3rd Place)

2005 Runs Scored: 688

2005 Runs Allowed: 662

Expected 2005 Record: 84-78

It takes at least 90 wins per season for the Minnesota Twins to avoid contraction talk. Last season, injuries to Torii Hunter, Brad Radke, and Carlos Silva caused the Twins to go 11-16 in September (they did have a tough September schedule). The real culprit was their offense, ranked last in the AL. No one on the team had an OPS over .800.

All season long, the Twins tried to keep a philosophy of defense over offense for position players, which makes sense with the non-Santana portion of the Twins staff’s propencity to allow balls to be put in play. But this year, they realize that they are going to have to score a little more frequently if they want to remain a part of the Major Leagues.

Catcher

2005 Starters: Joe Mauer, Mike Redmond

Projected 2006 Starters: Mauer, Redmond

Mauer has yet to show much pop, but got on base over 37% of the time last year and has surprising speed for a catcher (13 SB in 14 Attempts). This former 1st overall pick turns just 23 in April, so he should continue to improve in all aspects of the game.

First Base

2005 Starter: Justin Morneau

Projected 2006 Starter: Morneau

Morneau hit 41 homers in 146 combined AAA and ML games in 2004, but only hit 22 in 141 games with the Twins last year. Fans expect Justin to become the first Twin to hit 30 homers since 1987, but to do so he’ll have to shake off a horrrendus 2005 season.

Second Base

2005 Starters: Nick Punto,Luis Rodriguez

Projected 2006 Starters: Luis Castillo, Rodriguez

Castillo ranges to his right extremely well, which is key since The Fielding Bible shows that only the Rangers allowed more hits up the middle than the Twins did last year. His 40+ SB days are long gone, but along with Mauer and Shannon Stewart, the top three in the Minnesota lineup should combine for an OBP around .375.

Third Base

2005 Starters: Michael Cuddyer, Terry Tiffee

Projected 2006 Starters: Tony Batista, Tiffee

People act as though the Tony Batista signing is a huge risk, but I think the Twins know exactly what they’re getting: 25 homers, 90 RBI, 120 K’s, and a .295 OBP. This is actually an improvement over their 2005 production out of third base. The Twins have finally conceded that Cuddyer cannot play the hot corner at all... we’ll see how long it takes for them to admit that he doesn’t hit well enough to play the outfield.

Shortstop

2005 Starters: Juan Castro, Jason Bartlett

Projected 2006 Starter: Bartlett, Castro

Minnesota didn’t want to use Bartlett for fear that his defense wasn’t on par with Castro’s. However, The Fielding Bible shows that Bartlett actually made more plays than Castro last year, while they both turned double plays at an equally exceptional rate. The Twins must realize this and get Bartlett’s improving bat in the lineup every day if they want to contend.

Outfield

2005 Starters: Shannon Stewart, Jacque Jones, Lew Ford, Torii Hunter

Projected 2006 Starters: Stewart, Ford, Hunter, Cuddyer

Hunter is coming off of an injury-plagued season, and Stewart and Ford each had the worst seasons of their careers in ’05. Cuddyer’s not likely to be any worse than Jacque Jones was last year. Basically, this outfield can’t go anywhere but up...yet it’s still among the weakest in baseball.

Designated hitter

2005 Starter: Matt LeCroy

Projected 2006 Starter: Rondell White

Although I agree that using Rondell White as a full time DH is the best way to keep him healthy, he’s actually replacing the guy who led the team in OPS last year, so it shouldn’t be that huge of an upgrade.

Pitching

2005 Front Three Starters: Johan Santana, Brad Radke, Carlos Silva

Projected 2006 Front Three: Santana, Radke, Silva

Injuries caused Silva to miss most of September, and Radke to post a 6.86 ERA in four September starts. They’re both extreme control pitchers, combining for just 32 walks in 389 IP last season, and therefore should not be prone to such injuries. Santana is building his credentials towards being the best left-handed pitcher in baseball, and the best second-half pitcher of all-time.

Other 2005 Starters: Kyle Lohse, Joe Mays, Scott Baker

Other Possible 2006 Starters: Lohse, Baker, Francisco Liriano

The Twins allowed the third fewest runs in the American League last year, despite the best efforts of Joe Mays to pull them back to the pack (5.65 ERA). Between power prospect Liriano and finnesse prospect Baker, the back end of the Twins’ rotation looks to be much stronger than it was last season.

2005 Top Relievers: Joe Nathan, Jesse Crain, Juan Rincon, Matt Guerrier

Projected 2006 Top Relievers: Nathan, Crain, Rincon, Guerrier

What a fine no-name bullpen! Nathan, Crain, and Rincon combined to go 25-15 with a 2.62 ERA in 226.2 IP last year, although Crain’s peripheral stats were junk. They’ve lost some depth with JC Romero and Terry Mullholland gone, but odds are that the Twins can find more no-names from within their organization to match or exceed their 2005 performances.

Final Word:

The Twins were actually a pretty good team last year, and should be even better in 2006. Unfortunately, The Twins and White Sox were better last year and both also improved this offseason. It is therefore quite unlikely that the Twins will be able to overtake them both and win the AL Central. Yet the 90-win contractionsbane goal is definitely within reach, and a whole lot of luck could also land them the Wild Card.




Become A Sponsor of BaseballEvolution.com
Sponsor a page at BaseballEvolution.com. On a page of your choice, you can place a personalized message, a tribute to a player, or a link to your website!



Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Keith Glab resides in Chicago, Illinois, and can be reached at keith@baseballevolution.com.



Baseball Evolution Features

The Teams Page
Find about all about your favorite team.
  GO
Friends
Yes, we have them. Check out these other fantastic sites.

Hall of Fame
See who's in, who's out, and where we differ from Cooperstown

Splitsville
All kinds of split statistics and what they mean.

Statistics
Your source for stats, conventional and otherwise.

Award Room
All of your award info and analysis right here.

News and Notes
Interesting odds and ends from around the league.

Top 100s
See where we rank'em.

Trivia
Test your baseball knowledge.

Predictions
As the season rolls along, check to see how accurate our 2005 predictions were.

Boneheads
See who's making a lot of money to embarrass themselves writing about baseball.

Heated Debates
We don't always agree with each other.

Scorer's Corner
Keith shares scoring oddities that he has encountered.

Player Nicknames
How we refer to certain players when we're discussing them.

Ballpark Food
What various ballparks around the league should be serving up to the fans.

Scouting Reports
In-depth analysis of high-level prospects.

The Name Game
Put your skills to the test.