21 Predictions for the Twins 2021 Season
Image courtesy of © The News-Press-USA TODAY NETWORKAlright, putting out predictions before a season starts is a risk. If I am way off, it's possible that you will come back to this article, and remind me again and again how ridiculous my prediction was. And, that's probably fair, because if I get some of them right, I guarantee that I will bring it up!! OK, I'll probably forget. (But if you want to look back at my 20 Predictions for 2020, you can).
Let's get to the predictions, and when you're done reading mine, respond to them in the comments, and make some of your own predictions too.
#1 - Max Kepler - April AL Player of the Month
Everyone knows that Max Kepler has struggled in March. He is 3-for-42 (.071) with no extra base hits and just one RBI. So in an extreme example of spring training statistics meaning almost nothing for veterans, this first prediction is a bit bold. But hey, why not? We all have seen what Kepler can do, and most likely, will do again. Getting off to a fast start will help.
#2 - Luis Arraez won’t hit .400
But he will hit .300 again. It will be interesting to see how much he plays, but if he plays in about 75% of Twins games, he should be hitting leadoff and get enough plate appearances to qualify for a batting title. It’ll be a tight race between Arraez and Yankees infielder DJ LeMahieu that will come down to the final weekend.
#3 - Miguel Sano will have a record-breaking season
Sano will top Mark Reynolds’ single-season strikeout record of 223 strikeouts. He will also lead the team with 42 home runs.
#4 - Catcher Split
I’ve touted it all offseason, but I would love to see the Twins literally have Mitch Garver and Ryan Jeffers alternate catching each game. Ideally, each of them would make about 75 starts. Both of them will post an OPS over .800.
#5 - Bomba Squad… but not quite
The Twins will showcase a lot of players with the ability to hit homers. The 2019 Bomba Squad had 11 players reach double figures in home runs. The 2021 team will end up with ten in double digits.
Miguel Sano (42), Byron Buxton (32), Max Kepler (28), Josh Donaldson (25), Nelson Cruz (24), Mitch Garver (18), Jorge Polanco (17), Brent Rooker (14), Ryan Jeffers (13), Alex Kirilloff (11).
#6 - Rest and Recovery
As we have learned, giving players rest is something that Rocco Baldelli really values. With the Twins depth at every position, Baldelli will have the ability to stick to that. I don’t think that the Twins will have a position player who plays more than 145 games. Sure, there will be injuries and there will need to be adjustments made, but days off will be part of the design.
#7 - Buxton’s Breakout
We’ve been waiting, some more patiently than others, but in 2021, Byron Buxton will have a second breakout season. In 2017, he played in 140 games and hit .253 with 14 doubles, six triples, 16 homers, 29 stolen bases, Gold and Platinum Glove Awards, and MVP votes. He received MVP votes again in 2020. Buxton is entering his Age 27 year, and with the admitted caveat of health (which we know can’t be assumed), Buxton is ready to put it all on display. My prediction is the 32 homers, another Gold Glove, and a Top 3 finish in American League MVP voting.
#8 - Ace Maeda
It’s hard to imagine that Maeda will be able to sustain his crazy 2020 season in which he posted a 0.75 WHIP and finished second in AL Cy Young voting over the course of a full season. However, Maeda continues to tinker, and his stuff is really good. He’s got pitches that move side to side. He works the zone well. I think that he will again be the team’s top starting pitcher and receive Cy Young votes.
#9 - Ace #2 La Makina
OK, so there seems to be a sect of Twins fans that are disappointed that Jose Berrios has not become a top-of-the-league, old-school Justin Verlander type of Ace. Then again, he’s not even 27 yet, is a two-time All Star, has a 200-innings pitched season and has generally been quite good. Maybe he’s not a “True Ace”, but there aren’t many of those, and #2s are really, really valuable as we will see when Berrios gets a contract. Berrios works hard and is quite competitive. Last year, he was working on stuff and increased his velocity. He should continue to get a little better. Berrios will lead the Twins in fWAR.
#10 - Closer By Committee?
We know that Rocco Baldelli won’t name a closer, and I think we now all understand the concept that he attempts to utilize… He and Wes Johnson try to match a pitcher to a situation in an attempt for them to find success. Because of that, I think that the Twins will have at least four pitchers that record saves in 2021. I think that Colome will lead the team in Saves, but I think it will be close. I will predict Colome to get 23 saves and Taylor Rogers to have 18 saves. In addition, I would guess that Hansel Robles and Tyler Duffey will each have five or more saves.
#11 - This One’s For the Twins Geek
The Twins Geek favorite stat in recent years was WPA (Win Probability Added). This year, it appears that he’s got a new favorite, Leverage Index. So, here is a guess, I mean prediction, for who will be the Twins bullpen leaders in Leverage Index, who will utilized in the game’s biggest moments. I will rank them: 1.) Taylor Rogers, 2.) Alex Colome, 3.) Jorge Alcala, 4.) Tyler Duffey, 5.) Hansel Robles.
#12 - Kirilloff Debut
Sure, he’s made his Major League debut and has his first Major League hit, but at some point this year, Alex Kirilloff will make his regular-season MLB debut, and record his first regular-season MLB hit. I will put the over-under on the Alex Kirilloff debut at May 15th. As shown above, I predicted 11 homers for AK-19 and he will hit around .270.
#13 - Duran Debut
The Twins have six starters (including Randy Dobnak), and Lewis Thorpe will likely be the first starter called up as needed. However, I think that Jhoan Duran will be the starter called up when there is a need after the Fourth of July. I think he can make a couple of starts, and then jump into the bullpen where he can have a huge impact for the Twins late in the season.
#14 - Minor League Free Agent Signing of the Year
As always, the Twins signed a whole bunch of minor league free agents. Derek Law was just named our Sire of Ft. Myers for his great spring. JT Riddle is a defensive whiz. Tzu-Wei Lin hit really well in spring training. Luke Farrell and Glenn Sparkman could come up and contribute. Keon Broxton is a good option should the Twins need a long-term backup outfield option. However, I think that lefty Brandon Waddell will be the player at the end of the season that has the biggest impact on the Twins season. He has always been a starter, but the Twins like what he can do out of the bullpen, and he has a potentially great slider. After a month or two in St. Paul, adjusting to life in the bullpen and continuing to work on that slider, I think he comes up and has a Taylor Rogers-like impact.
#15 - Gold Gloves?
As earlier predicted, Byron Buxton will win his second Gold Glove Award. If Andrelton Simmons plays enough games, I think he will also get one, but I won’t predict that. I do think that Kenta Maeda will win his first Gold Glove. I do think that Ryan Jeffers will also be a top three, but he’ll have to wait another year or two to win his first one.
#16 - All Stars?
Who will make the All Star game, the midseason classic? How many All Stars will the Twins have? Well, obviously the more wins they have by early July, the more All Stars they will have. I am going to guess that… Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, Kenta Maeda and Jose Berrios. I think we can all be happy if the Twins have five All Stars, right?
#17 - If the Shoe Fits, What (Happ)ens?
I think that the Twins will have six pitchers that win 10 or more games. Obviously we expect it from Maeda, Berrios and Pineda, if they stay healthy. Matt Shoemaker will get off to a fast start, earning a lot of wins early, and he will reach double-figures. Looks like J.A. Happ will be ready to make his first start during the season’s first week. He’s been really good five of the last six seasons, and he’s got a chance to be really good again in 2021. I think that he will lead the team by winning 18 games and post an ERA right around 3.50. I also believe that Randy Dobnak will reach ten wins. I think he’ll make somewhere around ten starts this year, but I also think that he will be brought in as the second half of a piggyback situation at times, meaning that the starter can’t get the win and Dobnak will take it.
#18 - Prospects to debut in 2021
It’s hard to know where the needs will be over the course of the season, but here is my best guess for which prospects will make their MLB debut during the 2021 season.
Alex Kirilloff (MLB regular season debut), Nick Gordon, Jhoan Duran, Matt Canterino, Trevor Larnach, Ryan Mason.
#19 - Twins Diamond Award predictions
Calvin R. Griffith Award (MVP): Byron Buxton
Bob Allison Award (determination, hustle, competitive spirit, leadership): Josh Donaldson
Carl R. Pohlad Award (Community Service): Taylor Rogers
Joseph W Haynes Award (Top Pitcher): Kenta Maeda
Bill Boni Award (Top Rookie): Ryan Jeffers
Jim Kaat Award (Top Defensive): Byron Buxton
Charles O. Johnson Award (Most Improved): Cody Stashak
Mike Augustin “Media Good Guy” Award: Nelson Cruz
Dick Siebert Award (Upper Midwest Player of the Year): AJ Puk
Kirby Puckett Award (Alumni Community Service): Tom Johnson
Sherry Robertson Award (Minor League Player of the Year): Jose Miranda
Jim Rantz Award (Minor League Pitcher of the Year): Chris Vallimont
#20 - Twins Three-Peat in AL Central
When I started writing this and planning for this, I was seriously considering picking the White Sox. They have a ton of talent. However, losing Eloy Jimenez for most, if not all, of the season hurts a lot. But it also was a reminder that over 162 games, depth is going to be important, and I believe that the Twins have a ton of depth in the lineup and with pitchers.
Kansas City 80-82
#21 - The Twins WILL WIN A PLAYOFF GAME
Listen, I don’t want to get too bold, but I do feel pretty good about the Twins winning at least one playoff game. A series? We’ll see. But as Twins fans, let’s start with one game, then worry about a second game… and then hope for 11 playoff wins!
What do you think? In the comments below, tell me how I did, and more important, make your own predictions. Maybe we'll take a look back at them in mid-season and at the end of the year and see how we did.
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