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Article: Minnesota's Wild Card Competition

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#1 Cody Christie

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Posted 21 March 2018 - 07:33 PM

Prediction season is here across the baseball world. Earlier this week, I made some bold predictions about Minnesota’s upcoming season. Truthfully, there’s a chance none of these predictions come true. Jorge Polanco’s suspension earlier this week also put a damper on the optimism that was surrounding the Twins so far this spring.

Minnesota is likely going to finish behind Cleveland in the AL Central. The Indians have more depth and have been near the top of the AL over the last two seasons. Let’s take a realistic look at who the Twins might be competing with this season if they are in the Wild Card hunt.Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox and the Yankees are setting up for quite the battle in the AL East. FanGraphs is projecting both teams to finish with more than 90 wins. Boston has claimed back-to-back AL East titles but this might be the year for them to fall a little short. David Price might be the team’s biggest question mark after his 2017 campaign was shrouded with elbow issues. Dustin Pedroia is coming off of off-season knee surgery and isn’t expected to be back until the end of May. JD Martinez could add some offensive pop to a lineup that includes young hitters like Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, and Xander Bogaerts.

Los Angeles Angels
Mike Trout might be the best player of this generation and the Angels have only been to the playoffs one time during his career. The club’s last win in the playoffs was in 2009. Los Angeles added multiple pieces this off-season with the addition of Justin Upton, Ian Kinsler, Zack Cozart, and two-way Japanese star Shohoei Ohtani. Ohtani has struggled this spring but he wasn’t brought in to help the Angles to win pre-season games. Andrelton Simmons and Kinsler make-up the best defensive middle infield in the AL. Some computer models also think the Angels are set-up for failure this season. Houston should run away with the AL West so LA might be forced to fight for a Wild Card spot.

Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto should be in the playoff hunt but the division might be out of reach with the Yankees and the Red Sox fighting at the top. In 2017, the Blue Jays missed the playoffs for the first time since 2014. Toronto’s rotation will start the season without their ace, Marcus Stroman, sidelined with shoulder inflammation. Other pitchers like JA Happ, Marco Estrada and Aaron Sanchez help to complete a strong rotation but playing the rest of the AL East could hurt any starting staff. Offensively last season, the Blue Jays scored the fewest runs and Toronto’s lineup isn’t getting any younger.

Seattle Mariners
Twins fans might think they’ve had it rough but the Mariners haven’t qualified for the playoffs since 2001. Felix Hernandez hasn’t been the King over the last couple of seasons as his fastball dropped to barely over 90 miles an hour. Only three current starters (CC Sabathia, Bartolo Colon, Justin Verlander) have more innings pitched than Hernandez. Adding Dee Gordon should help the top of the lineup but his shift to center field comes with some questions. Some of the key offensive pieces are getting older as well. Robinson Cano will be 35, Nelson Cruz will be 37, and Kyle Seager will be 30. With a top-heavy American League, it looks like the Mariners playoff drought might continue.

I was on 670 The Score out of Chicago this week to preview the AL Central. Take a listen here: https://670thescore....central-preview

Who is the biggest threat to Minnesota taking a Wild Card spot? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

Click here to view the article

Cody Christie
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#2 Riverbrian

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Posted 21 March 2018 - 09:13 PM

First of all... I think the Twins can Win the Central. I hand the Indians nothing. They are not as strong offensively as they were last year and the bullpen is noticeably weaker.I'm not sure about the starting pitching depth and if a couple of injuries or dead arms happen in the rotation they could be quite normal. 

 

However... in case the Twins are fighting for a Wild Card Spot. 

 

The only teams in the AL that I'm dismissing as competition are the Tigers, Royals and Rays. 

 

I think the West is going to be hard from top to bottom and the Astros are perfectly built... I see them winning the division but the other 4 will be beating each other up and that will lessen the chances of the Mariners, Angels, Rangers and A's. (The A's may surprise a few this year). 

 

That leaves the Twins (or Indians) competing with the (Yankees or Red Sox), Jays, Orioles and possibly the White Sox if the young talent gels quick for two Wild Card Spots. One will come out of the East and One will come out of the Central. 

 

My Crystal Ball has some dust over it... so I'm not sure if it works anymore. 

 

BTW... In the National league.. the only teams that I am dismissing are the Marlins and Reds and barely the Reds because I think they got some interesting offensive players.

 

I think every other team is capable of putting something together to impress or surprise us. 

 

The Nats are the only team that I'm reasonably certain will be playoff bound. The Rest are going to have to fight it out. 

 

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#3 Darius

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Posted 21 March 2018 - 09:35 PM

The Angels are scary to me because they'll get a full season of Trout and Upton, where they only got a fraction of a season from each last year.

They also swapped Nolasco (the 2017 Twins MVP award winner, IMO) for Ohtani, and anything they potentially get from Ohtani offensively. He's a work in progress offensively, but I heard recently that he was launching balls in BP farther than anyone else on the team. That team has the best baseball player in the world on it. So, there's a big wildcard (no pun intended). They could potentially be adding a front-end starter and a quality DH with one player.

They can't help but get better. Could be a lot better if they can stumble into some pitching.

The Orioles signed Alex Cobb, which makes them a little more interesting as well.

#4 Tommygun921

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Posted 22 March 2018 - 05:58 AM

I think the Twins will give the Indians a run for their money this year. I don't know why but Polanco's suspension ruined my optimism a tad also. They have capable replacements so they should be fine but still.

#5 bustedstuff88

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Posted 22 March 2018 - 06:03 AM

"Minnesota is likely going to finish behind Cleveland in the AL Central. The Indians have more depth and have been near the top of the AL over the last two seasons"

 

You lost me right here. What did cleveland do this offseason? They LOST key players and added no one. Check my math but I do believe that results in a net loss. I know the pundits would argue otherwise, but I foresee the Twins/Indians battle for first to be much closer than many predict. 


#6 Han Joelo

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Posted 22 March 2018 - 06:13 AM

Some guy at Yahoo who get's paid to write basically said the same thing as Brian, but not as well.  I think if we weren't living in a statistically enlightened age, with an Internet that allows us to mercilessly dissect every move and non-move the Twins make, I would feel even more confident.  I think that 25 years ago, armed only with a glossy special preview issue of Sports Illustrated, my less evolved brain would arrive at the conclusion that the only thing the Indians have that the Twins don't is last year's division championship.  

 

And, like Brian, I have a hard time counting anybody out, even the Royals.  Maybe the Tigers.  The Astros appear to be a an Uber-team, and I was going to make an Uber comparison here, but that would be tacky given recent events.

 

Without knowing the team well, I scratch my head wondering why the Mariners are considered contenders but the Rangers aren't (not just here, other writers seem to list the same teams.)  I'm Mariners fan by default, but this team doesn't do much for me; reminds me of the Tigers a year ago.

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#7 Mr. Brooks

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Posted 22 March 2018 - 06:14 AM

"Minnesota is likely going to finish behind Cleveland in the AL Central. The Indians have more depth and have been near the top of the AL over the last two seasons"

You lost me right here. What did cleveland do this offseason? They LOST key players and added no one. Check my math but I do believe that results in a net loss. I know the pundits would argue otherwise, but I foresee the Twins/Indians battle for first to be much closer than many predict.


Well if Bill Gates loses a million dollars, and gains none, he'll still have more money than me, so I'm not sure why you are disputing what was written.
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#8 jokin

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Posted 22 March 2018 - 06:32 AM

 

 

 

 

 

Without knowing the team well, I scratch my head wondering why the Mariners are considered contenders but the Rangers aren't (not just here, other writers seem to list the same teams.)  I'm Mariners fan by default, but this team doesn't do much for me; reminds me of the Tigers a year ago.

 

Bingo. I've also proposed that besides the AL East runner-up, the Mariners and Rangers are the most likely teams to be competing for Wild Card spots with the Twins.

 

The Angels? I'm not seeing it. They seem to have had a curse set upon them. Ohtani hasn't shown anything this spring, and the rest of their starting pitching depth is a DL Disaster Zone waiting to happen.

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#9 Oldgoat_MN

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Posted 22 March 2018 - 07:30 AM

Here are the projections from CBS Sports. They are not particularly bullish on the Twins, as they have them winning 80.2 games.

I'm more optimistic than that. It does show, however, that other teams have some ability to step up and surprise much like the Twins did last year.

I still think the Twins can be in the Wild Card hunt along with the Red Sox/Yankees and Angels. We have 57 games against the Mighty Whities, the Tiggers and the Royals. 

We need to dominate those teams.

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#10 highlander

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Posted 22 March 2018 - 09:17 AM

Eff the wild card! Go win the division!
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#11 Tom Froemming

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Posted 22 March 2018 - 09:40 AM

I like the enthusiasm going on here, but I'm with Cody on this one. On paper, Cleveland is still a decent margin above the Twins. They lost a couple pieces, yes, but they were 17 games better than the Twins last year and did bring in some replacements.

 

Yonder Alonso was actually a better hitter than Carlos Santana last season, and while losing Bryan Shaw hurts, they still have Cody Allen, Andrew Miller and a few more solid arms in the pen.

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#12 Mike Sixel

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Posted 22 March 2018 - 09:43 AM

One of hte two AL East teams probably will win one of the WC, barring major injuries/surprises.

 

I'd rank the contendors:

MN (this is overly optimistic compared to most models)

LAA (Ohtani is 23, adjusting to a new country, and coming off an injury. He'll get better) If the Twins had a 23 yo up, with that stuff, people would be excited.

TOR/TEX

White Sox (the most highly variable team this year imo)

BAL

TB (they'd be in first if not for the injuries)

SEA

 

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I remain hopeful on Buxton and Sano.....but I'd not bet the franchise on them.


#13 caninatl04

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Posted 22 March 2018 - 11:36 AM

FWIW Vegas has the Angels winning 85 games with the Twins at 83.5. Both have equal odds of winning the pennant at 12:1. These teams have the fifth and sixth highest predicted win totals behind Yankees, Astros, BoSox (all over 90 wins) and Cleveland (94.5 wins).

#14 bustedstuff88

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Posted 22 March 2018 - 12:22 PM

 

Well if Bill Gates loses a million dollars, and gains none, he'll still have more money than me, so I'm not sure why you are disputing what was written.

 

What Im disputing is the notion that Cleveland winning the division is a foregone conclusion.

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#15 Riverbrian

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Posted 22 March 2018 - 12:23 PM

I like the enthusiasm going on here, but I'm with Cody on this one. On paper, Cleveland is still a decent margin above the Twins. They lost a couple pieces, yes, but they were 17 games better than the Twins last year and did bring in some replacements.

Yonder Alonso was actually a better hitter than Carlos Santana last season, and while losing Bryan Shaw hurts, they still have Cody Allen, Andrew Miller and a few more solid arms in the pen.


I can’t argue this but I still hand them nothing! 😎
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#16 Mr. Brooks

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Posted 22 March 2018 - 04:21 PM

What Im disputing is the notion that Cleveland winning the division is a foregone conclusion.


But that's not what he said. He said they were "likely" to win the division, which they are.

Of course there are no locks in sports, and the Twins have a shot at the division. But, Cleveland is, and should be the heavy favorite.
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