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  • How Would the Twins Fare in the Grapefruit League South?


    Cody Christie

    The USA Today’s Bob Nightengale is reporting that Major League Baseball is considering dropping the National League and American League for the 2020 season. This would allow clubs to play in their spring training sites and have completely new divisions based on geography. Minnesota’s new division would be much tougher than the American League Central, so how could that impact their 2020 season?

    Image courtesy of © David Dermer-USA TODAY Sports

    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?

    The Cellar

    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

    The Contenders

    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 Favorite?

    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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    One of the best teams on paper in the team’s history, arguably in the MLB this year. Our best player and clubhouse heartbeat (Cruz) has one, maybe two, elite seasons left before age finally catches up. The Red Sox are down, the Indians are down, the American League favorites are rocked by a cheating scandal. Everything looks primed for a special season....and a freaking worldwide pandemic shuts down the season.

     

    Unreal.

     

    Just to be clear, there are obviously much worse things. But, in terms of first world problems, this is a big one for me.

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    I actually love it.  Get baseball going have something a little different to shake things up.  The division would be tough and I ready don’t think we would win it but baseball back is important

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    My hope this season is that eventually everything would return to normal. Under this premise it can`t, they are forced to play all their games at their preseason camp. Although to start the season it`d be reasonable to have a Florida (AL) & Arizona (NL), switching a few teams base camps to accommodate the restructuring. But anything is better than nothing 

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    The more they talk about warping the very fabric of the league to try and manufacture a season, the more I wonder if a season's worth having at all

     

    It falls right in line with all the other video game-level stupid ideas they've suggested to "spice up the game" in recent years.

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    I'm torn either way personally.  I love baseball and want to see it played, but I may not be to crazy about the fundamental changes for this "season" (although that isn't a deal breaker for me personally).

     

    Ultimately, I truly just want to see my son and his HS team play.  My head knows the reasons for shutting down his season, and I support them... but, my heart had a very hard time watching what was shaping up to be a breakout season cut short (.7 ERA / .7 WHIP / 15.39 K/9 / 17:1 K:BB Ratio - you get the picture).  

     

    He may get to play summer ball (we shall see how things pan out), but in the mean time... even a warped version of our National Pastime may be better than nothing :).

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    The proposed alignment is better than no baseball. 

     

    Agreed. If they were to play in the "Grapefruit South," one of three divisions, 5 teams means they would need some games outside the division. I'm curious to see how MLB might resolve this--I'm guessing they wouldn't use "interleague" games between AZ and FL! 

     

    Some team plays a doubleheader against two others, thus 8 games among 16 teams? Or off days--only 14 teams playing in 7 games per day?

     

    Re the schedule, 12 games against each of 4 division rivals is 48 games, 6 games against 10 others outside the division would be 108 total games.  No cold weather problem playing into the autumn in FL & AZ. 

     

    Final thought: please, one full, healthy season from Buxton.

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    I see the Twins battling Boston for 3rd place in this setup. If it were regular baseball, I see the Twins eeking out a division win over the White Sox with Cleveland 3rd. I know we are all Twins fans so we have some rose colored glasses when looking at the Twins but I don't think we can expect several players to duplicate their 2019 seasons. I hope I am wrong but have to look at it realistically. In my simulated, not scientific, season using the regular MLB schedule, the Twins are 9-7 through games of April 15th and in second place behind, of all teams, KC (I told you it was not scientific).

     

    Happy Jackie Robinson Day.

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