20 Twins Predictions for the 2020 Season
Image courtesy of Kamil Krzaczynski, USA TODAY SportsHere are 20 predictions for the 2020 Minnesota Twins season.
#1 - The 2019 Twins will hold on to the MLB record for most home runs in a season with 307.
You read it here first. Even with the juiced ball, no team is going to approach the Twins MLB record of 307 home runs. I feel quite confident in that.
That said, the Twins averaged about 1.9 home runs per game in 2019. They will be shy of that, but the Yankees will be over 2.0 home runs per game in 2020.
#2 - Nelson Cruz will lead the Twins with 17 home runs.
That is the equivalent of about 46 home runs in a 162 game season. Obviously with Cruz, he will need to continue defying Father Time and stay healthy, but he’s such a powerful, professional hitters. Other candidates to lead the team include Josh Donaldson, Max Kepler, Eddie Rosario and Miguel Sano. Yes, the Twins will still hit a lot of home runs.
#3 - Eddie Rosario will have a monster season.
Eddie Rosario can be incredibly frustrating to watch, yet he is a guy who can carry a team for months. The Twins obviously hope this sixty-game stretch is one in which he’s on fire. Until he was hurt last year, he was putting up All-Star caliber numbers. He’s driven, knowing that he could be a free agent at the end of the season.
#4 - Jose Berrios will be the Twins best starting pitcher.
I know. Choosing the Opening Day starter and two-time All Star to be the Twins best pitcher isn’t going out on a limb, but there isn’t anyone who outworks Berrios. Also, his only struggles throughout his career have come in late July and August, but that’s when those months are the fourth and fifth month of the regular season. There won’t be a fourth or fifth month this season, so look for Berrios to have a great year.
#5 - Kenta Maeda will lead the rotation in Wins (8).
I know. It’s a meaningless individual stat. I included the words “the rotation” because it’s very possible that some reliever will vulture a bunch of Wins during this short stretch. And while I think Berrios will be the Twins top starter in the stats that speak to actual pitching (ERA, WHIP, FIP), as the #1 starter, he will often match up against Lucas Giolito, Shane Bieber, Mike Clevinger or even Matthew Boyd. Meanwhile, Maeda is currently slotted as the team’s #3 starter. He’s nearly as good as Berrios statistically over the past few years, but he should match up with other team’s #3 and #4 pitchers often. He should get plenty of run support.
#6 - Randy Dobnak will get the first opportunity to make starts when needed.
That might be due to an injury. It could be a starter struggling. Once he gets that opportunity, he’ll take advantage and keep the rotation spot. However, his ERA will be higher than the 1.59 ERA he posted in 28 1/3 innings last year.
#7 - Luis Arraez will not hit .400.
Again, not really going out on a limb here, but there are so many - including national writers/reporters - who have mentioned him as a candidate to reach that milestone in the shortened season. That’s not to say that Arraez isn’t capable of doing that over a 60-game stretch, it’s just not easy. And again, the Twins will face Bieber, Clevinger, and Giolito often while lefties like Matthew Boyd and Dallas Keuchel will also make it difficult.
#8 - Luis Arraez will hit .300, but barely.
This one I’m not as confident in. In fact, when I was on WJON radio in St. Cloud earlier this week, I predicted that Arraez would lead the team with a .308 batting average. He hit .334 in 92 games in 2019, but hitting isn’t as easy as he made it look in 2019. And frankly, he’s made it look easy at every minor league level too. But this is the big leagues. Teams and pitchers will adjust. I’m not willing to say that he will have a sophomore slump, but making those adjustments isn’t always easy.
#9 - The Twins will have two Gold Glove winners in 2020.
Byron Buxton may miss a game or two at the beginning of the season, but if he can stay healthy the rest of the way, he should win his second Gold Glove, and maybe even his second Platinum Glove. Jose Berrios will pass Dallas Keuchel and win his first Gold Glove. Josh Donaldson will be tremendous defensively at third base, but Matt Chapman will win another at the hot corner. Also for consideration, Max Kepler should win in right field now that Mookie Betts in in the National League.
#10 - The Twins will have three Silver Sluggers again in 2020.
Well, if I have Nelson Cruz hitting 17 home runs, then I must believe that he should win another Silver Slugger, though at DH there will certainly be competition. I think Josh Donaldson gets robbed of a Gold Glove, but he will win another Silver Slugger Award. I also think Eddie Rosario will win a Silver Slugger Award since I predicted above that he’d have a monster 2020 season. That said, Max Kepler is a candidate, and the Mitch Garver vs. Gary Sanchez debate will be a thing for the next few years. I’d love to have said that the Twins would have four or even five Silver Slugger winners, but that doesn’t quite seem realistic… which means we will be disappointed for at least one or two Twins players.
#11 - When Michael Pineda comes back, it’ll be in the bullpen.
As you all know, Michael Pineda’s suspension will be through the team’s first 36 games. He will give the team a “trade deadline acquisition” that can really have an impact. I also think that the Twins starting rotation will be really good, one-through-five, especially with my note that Dobnak jumps into it and pitches well. Because of the timing of his return, I think that Pineda would most help the Twins in 2020 out of the bullpen, easing him in. Maybe there are opportunities to piggy-back him with Rich Hill to help the 40-year-old through this strange season and be strong for a potential postseason run.
#12 - Rocco Baldelli will not win AL Manager of the Year again in 2020…
… even though what he does in 2020 may have a much bigger significance. Baldelli’s calm demeanor, thoughtful comments and encouragement of open communication allowed the 2019 team to thrive. Those same managerial traits are likely to be even more important in 2020 with the constant threat of COVID as well as other issues beyond the game of baseball. It may not show up always as Wins, but it should be (and will be) noticed by players and front office. Of course, 2019 didn’t present the Twins and their first-year manager with a lot of issues, so it might be interesting to see how the team handles a rough patch. My sense is they will handle it fine because of Baldelli and his coaching staff, but also because this team has a strong veteran presence.
#13 - Mike Bell will be an MLB Manager by 2022. Will interview for jobs after 2021 season.
Obviously new Twins bench coach Mike Bell has the pedigree to be a big leaguer. His grandfather Gus played in the big leagues. His father, Buddy, played for a long time and then was a successful manager in the majors. His brother David is currently a manager with the Cincinnati Reds.
But while those connections might get him interviews, it will be his demeanor and intelligence that will get him jobs. Prior to coming to the Twins, Bell spent the previous eight years as the Arizona Diamondbacks’ minor league director. He had a long playing career. He got some time in the big leagues. Bell’s resume is already impressive, and now he will get on-field work with Rocco Baldelli’s crew. And as we saw last offseason, successful teams often lose good coaches. Former bench coach Derek Shelton is now the Pittsburgh Pirates manager. Last year’s bullpen coach, Jeremy Hefner, is now the Mets pitching coach.
#14 - Two Twins pitchers will receive Cy Young votes.
Depending upon who is doing the voting and their personal views, either Jose Berrios or Kenta Maeda will receive some Cy Young votes. However, I think that in the shortened season, the role of the relievers could be viewed by some as vital. Taylor Rogers has made himself on of baseball’s best relievers, and the Twins should have a lot of close games with Cleveland, Chicago and those NL Central teams. Rogers could finish in the top three despite likely only pitching 25-30 innings.
#15 - Taylor Rogers will be great, but Trevor May and Tyler Duffey will be even better.
How would this be measured? ERA? FIP or xFIP? WPA? You pick. Rogers will get all the credit, and deservedly so. He’ll have the saves and he’ll be shaking hands with Mitch Garver or Alex Avila often. But May and Duffey both had something click the last two months of 2019 and it will carry into 2020. I’d like to predict that the Twins will lock them both up to long-term deals. May is a free agent at the end of the season, and as much as I’d love to see him sign a four-year, $13-14 million deal to stay, I can’t blame him if he wants to test free agency and see what offers he gets. While Duffey still has three years before becoming a free agent, but I’d be good with signing him to a four year, $12 million deal.
#16 - Miguel Sano will be just fine at first base.
In Wednesday’s exhibition game, Miguel Sano showed his athleticism and ability to play first base well. He went wide to his right to make a nice play. He also scooped a couple of balls in the dirt, which will obviously be crucial to the team’s success. Sure, there will be some moments where we shake our heads, but those are plays he just has to experience. By Game 30, Twins fans will hardly even be talking about his defense, other than statements like, “It’s hard to remember when it was something we worried about.”
#17 - Prospects may have to wait until 2021
It is really hard to know which players will get hurt and which players might get COVID, and I certainly will not be attempting to predict those. The Twins did a nice job of having depth at each position. Ehire Adrianza and Marwin Gonzalez can play multiple positions. They have several MLB-ready outfielders on the 30-man Opening Day roster. So it’s hard to envision scenarios where the team’s top prospects will debut in 2020. However, it’s possible that they could pick a prospect to add to a potential playoff roster. Travis Blankenhorn, as a 40-man roster guy already, should make his debut in 2020.
So, I don’t think prospects like Royce Lewis, Trevor Larnach or Ryan Jeffers to debut. They don’t need to be added to the team’s 40-man roster after the 2020 season. However, Alex Kirilloff does need to be added after this season, so he could be a late-season add. Another prospect who needs to be added to the 40-man roster is Brent Rooker, so he’s also got a shot, as well. But I will also add this. If a player like Max Kepler or Eddie Rosario is lost for the season, and they believe Trevor Larnach is the best option to help them win, this front office will not hesitate to do that. The reality is Larnach (And each of these guys) is very close and shouldn’t need three options anyway.
#18 - The Twins will win the American League Central, but it will be close!
Kansas City 20-40
#19 - The Twins finally top the Yankees in the playoffs
Frankly, if I didn’t believe that this was possible, then why even watch? (The answer is just to enjoy baseball, to enjoy the season and because they should be a great team that is fun to watch.) The Yankees are loaded again, but so are the Twins.
#20 - Twins vs Dodgers in a rematch of the 1965 World Series
The Twins have Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda. The Dodgers have Brusdar Graterol. What a fun matchup this would be. The Dodgers lost in two straight World Series before losing a round earlier to the eventual champion Nationals. I want the Twins to win a World Series, but I think that the Dodgers would be tough to beat. The Twins can beat them, but since I need to make a prediction, I will go with the Dodgers in seven games.
So, there are 20 predictions, several with sub-predictions included in the comments. Feel free to discuss my predictions, but also add yours. Maybe they’re similar to mine. Maybe they’re some other topic completely.
Happy Opening Day!! Enjoy the season!
- Tibs, DocBauer, dbminn and 3 others like this