Twins Predictions

Real live baseball (in America) begins tonight, before ramping up on Thursday, leading to the Twins’ opener on Friday in Baltimore.  With opening ceremonies in mind, here are the Knuckleballs Twins Predictions for 2012:

Pitcher of the Year: Scott Baker (minor early season DL stint not-withstanding) Baker was the best of a bad Twins pitching staff in 2011, despite missing chunks of the season on the Disabled List.  I couldn’t tell you why I think he’s going to be healthy and productive this year (which already seems like a bad idea), but I think he will be great.  Jim Crikket thinks that Francisco Liriano will be the best pitcher of the year.   His spring numbers were very positive, he limited his walks and earned plenty of strike outs.  Unfortunately, if you look back just a little farther to his Winter numbers, they’re terrible.  Let’s hope the recent results tell more of a story for 2012.

Hitter of the Year: Justin Morneau  “Morneau is swinging like I haven’s seen him swing in a couple of years. Vicious cuts.” – Jim Crikket  Again, these are only Spring Training at bats, but ever since Morneau flipped the switch and hit two home runs in a game a couple weeks ago he’s been a man on fire.  Moving into the DH position and focusing solely on hitting seems to be working for Morneau.  Success in 2012 will help distance Morneau from his 2010 concussion and he could be playing first base everyday by the All-Star Break.

Defender of the Year: I wanted to select Alexi Casilla as the defender of the year, hoping against hope that he will remain focused, healthy, and attentive at second base and play more than 100 games for the first time in his career.  Jim wanted to go with Denard Span, because for the Twins to succeed in 2012 Span is going to need to cover huge amounts of ground in the left field and right field gaps (gaps which are now wide open with the move to put Josh Willingham and some combination of Trevor Plouffe and Ryan Doumit in the corners).

Rookie of the Year: Chris Parmelee/Liam Hendriks If Parmelee continues to hit like he did last September and this Spring he’ll be a top choice for the Twins’ best rookie.  The other candidate, who made the 25 man roster and will open the season in the starting rotation is Liam Hendriks.  Hendriks was probably slated to come up after 5-10 AAA starts, but because Scott Baker and Jason Marquis are not ready to start the season Hendriks gets a chance to showcase his skills earlier than anticipated.  If he keeps his spot in the rotation when both Baker and Marquis are back you’ll know he’s pitching well and on track to steal a Rookie of the Year award from Parmelee.

Most Valuable Player: Justin Morneau The engine that makes the Twins go is Joe Mauer, but Mauer is even better with a healthy Justin Morneau hitting behind him, forcing pitchers to attack Mauer allowing him to hit doubles all over spacious Target Field and driving in runs for the Twins.  If Morneau comes back and is indeed the hitter of the year, selecting him as the MVP will be as much about what he does as an individual, as what he does in the lineup to help those around him.

Comeback Player of the Year: Francisco Liriano Obviously Justin Morneau is a candidate here if he hits well and helps the team succeed, but after a horrendous 2011, if Liriano returns to his 2010 form he’s one of the best players in baseball.  If Morneau and Liriano are both All-Stars, this team will be lucky to two potential comeback players on their squad.

Expected Record: The Marcel projections peg the Twins for just a 70-92 record, relying heavily on the Twins’ 2011 results as a predictor of 2012 success (and a heavy dose of regression to the mean).  Even if Joe Mauer’s Cindarella Spring Training Clock strikes midnight and he turns in another injury plagued 2012, simply trading Drew Butera for Ryan Doumit means turning a -1.2 WAR into a 1.2 WAR, 2.4 additional wins, and that’s not even factoring in upgraded seasons the Twins are likely to receive from Denard Span, Alexi Casilla, Jamey Carroll (vs. Tsuyoshi Nishioka), Danny Valencia, and at least half of the Twins’ pitching staff.  Assuming then that the 70-92 record is the worst that the Twins could do in 2012, what is a reasonable expectation for the Home 9?  My best guess, 82-80, Jim Crikket is more optimistic, suggesting even 86-76 for the Twins.  Either way, the Twins are going to be competitive, entertaining and might even be relevant in September.  Will any of this come to pass?   I don’t know, but we’ve got 162 games to find out.  Bring on the baseball!


8 Replies to “Twins Predictions”

  1. To weigh in on some of your predictions, I’ll take Scotty B as best Twins pitcher, Josh Willingham for hitter of the year, and D. Span with the best D. I see Chris Parm as the Twins ROY, but if Brian Doizer gets up to the club early he could steal that honor away., Joe Mauer will be the Twins MVP and will also steal the comeback player of the year award.

    I don’t think Frankie will return to his 2010 form and while I have outside hope that Justin Morneau can once again start mashing taters, I look newcomer Josh Willingham to be the big run producer this year for the Twins.

    -The Baseball Pirate

  2. This is the 2nd opening day of 2012. This is your logic train of the day.
    Pirates love treasure. Treasure is sometimes called booty.
    Pirates love booty. Brian Dinkelman has a ginormous booty.
    Pirates love Brian Dinkelman’s booty.

  3. The good news is that the Twins will be better than last year. The bad news is they are still going to lose 90 games in 2012. Take a look at the pitching staff. It is dreadful at best. Capps gets 19 saves ALL year. Pitching staff ERA 6.50. Hold on to your TC cap this season.

  4. Baseball Prospectus predicts 74 wins for the Twins. Maybe they could do a little better if Mauer, Morneau, and Liriano bounce back this season, but I have trouble picturing them finishing above .500.

    The Parmelee-Casilla-Carroll-Valencia infield isn’t likely to generate much offense. Willingham should be a fine replacement for Cuddyer, but Span is still a question mark to my mind, and the Plouffe/Revere/Doumit combo in RF is going to be subpar.

    Liriano looks strong this spring, but even if he continues to pitch well in the next few months, I think it just makes him a more likely trading chip this summer. I like Baker, but him starting the season on the DL with a bad elbow really concerns me. Pavano has been OK for the Twins, but nothing special; and a good first half from him probably puts him on the trading block, too. Who knows what we’ll get from Hendriks, and Blackburn is just back-end filler. The bullpen has a lot of question marks, not the least being the closer.

    My hopes for the Twins: may the stars be healthy and productive again, giving the fans a few months of respectable and entertaining baseball, and may Pavano and Liriano (and maybe Capps!) give Terry Ryan some valuable trading chips to flip for young talent this July. He’s going to need it to get the Twins back on top of the division before too long.

  5. I’m almost exactly with frightwig. I’m not optimistic about key guys bouncing back from head and knee injuries.

    Maybe this group could scratch to .500, but I think Ryan will start selling most of our moveable value after the June draft. Certainly he will if the Tigers are stomping on the division.

  6. As much as folks predict a fire sale in the late-July range every year, I haven’t seen it happen. Last year would have been the year for it, and still, not a ton happened as the trade deadline came and went. It just doesn’t seem to be the Twins Way ™.

    On the pitching front, it’s an even-numbered year, so my money’s on Liriano. Having had him on my fantasy teams several times, I’ve discerned the pattern.

  7. Sure we may be optimistic for the Twins, and I think that a .500 team is realistic, but 82-80 seems 100 times better than 81-81. It all starts tomorrow, folks. Go Twins