Welcome to the Grapefruit League South!
Under MLB’s new proposal, the Twins would play in a division that includes the Boston Red Sox, Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Rays, and Baltimore Orioles. With most of the original AL East and a strong Braves team, Minnesota’s path to the postseason will be tougher, but could it make the team stronger over the course of the season?
Baltimore is not going anywhere this season, especially coming off a season where the club lost 108 games. The Orioles are likely happy to be getting out of playing the Yankees 19-times this season. Other than that, they would see most of the AL East on a regular basis under this plan.
Most teams in the Grapefruit League South should take full advantage of a rebuilding Baltimore squad. There are few up-and-coming stars on Baltimore’s roster and their farm system isn’t exactly overflowing with MLB talent. It seems like the Orioles are destined for the cellar no matter what division they are placed in for 2020.
Predicted Division Finish: 5th
The Mighty Have Fallen
Boston entered this off-season with one goal, cut payroll and get under the luxury tax threshold. After messing up a three-team trade including the Twins, the Red Sox were still able to make a deal to dump Mookie Betts and David Price while acquiring some decent prospects (one of which has been injured since the team made the trade).
Minnesota versus Boston seems like such an intriguing storyline for the 2020 season. The Twins can use the cancelled Brusdar Graterol trade as motivation and run over one of the top organizations in recent years. The Red Sox aren’t exactly in win-now mode, so they may have less to play for in a season where the divisions are realigned.
Predicted Division Finish: 4th
Tampa Bay and Atlanta are certainly more difficult than Cleveland and Chicago in the AL Central. That being said, the Twins were already expected to finish higher than these two teams in the regular season. MLB.com had the Twins, Rays and Braves ranked as the fourth, fifth and sixth team in their early-season Power Rankings. Tampa seems to always find a way to compete in a tough division and Atlanta is on the rise.
Realistically, anything could happen in an altered season with the possibility of an electronic strike zone, new ballparks and a shortened schedule. Atlanta would also likely need to adjust to using a full-time designated hitter after having little to no time to prepare for the transition. The Braves still have Ronald Acuna, who might be the MLB’s second-best player behind Mike Trout.
Predicted Division Finish: 2nd (Atlanta) and 3rd (Tampa)
The Twins were supposed to be good, like really good. A historically good offense, a dominate bullpen and depth at starting pitching made it hard not to conjure up memories of the 1987 and 1991 season. Minnesota also saw plenty of line-up pieces deal with injuries last season. A completely healthy line-up would offer little rest for a pitching staff from one through nine in the line-up. Rich Hill could also be healthy for the majority of the season.
Realistically, the Braves, Rays and Twins would likely beat-up on each other throughout a shortened season and teams would need to take advantage of games against the Orioles and Red Sox. This is a significantly tougher division for the Twins, but it could make them more playoff ready and that could be a concern for other team’s across baseball.
Predicted Division Finish: 1st
How do you feel like the division would turn out? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
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