Team Previews in a Fantasy Nutshell: Minnesota Twins
Projected Starting Lineup
C Jason Castro—The Twins brought Castro in to help their pitching staff more than they brought him in to help their offense. At one time in his career, Castro was seen as a guy who could hit 20 HR. Sadly, he has turned into a guy who will hit .220 and 10-12 HR.
1B Joe Mauer—How the mighty have fallen. Mauer’s average dropped to .261 last year, and he only hit 11 HR which kills you considering other teams have first basemen who will hit about 20 more home runs than Mauer. It was one thing when Mauer qualified at catcher, but now as a 1B, he is a Fantasy liability.
2B Brian Dozier—It seemed like the Twins were hell bent on trading Dozier this past off-season and I am not sure why. He is the glue to their entire offense and provides a power/speed combination which is rare at his position. Dozier might not hit much more than .250, but the rest of his numbers are worthy of a second round pick.
SS Jorge Polanco—If the Twins decide not to use Buxton as their leadoff hitter, there is a good chance that they will go with Polanco. Manager Paul Molitor loves Polanco and feels that he could be a good catalyst for their offense. Polanco is only 23, and he has pretty good upside. Take a shot on him in your reserve round.
3B Miguel Sano—Sano is a boom or bust type player. He could end up hitting 40 HRs easily this year, but I could also see him hitting .230 with 200 strikeouts. The Twins will take the bad so long as he knocks in runners in scoring position.
OF Byron Buxton—Buxton’s name is the one that keeps on coming up in social media this off-season. A lot of people see him in line for a big breakout year, but I am not as confident as most. The Twins will be loath to put too much pressure on Buxton, and I can see him batting ninth in their lineup. If this happens, expect him to get around 475 ABs this year as opposed to 550. Supposedly the Twins former hitting coach was getting into Buxton’s head last season. That coach is gone and Buxton’s time is now.
OF Eddie Rosario—Rosario’s season in 2015 gave enough hope to Fantasy owners that they saw him improving on those numbers last season. Sadly that never happened and Rosario was so bad at the beginning of last year that he was sent back to Triple-A to work on his game. Rosario will get a chance to win the OF job against RHP with Robbie Grossman playing much of the time vs., LHP.
OF Max Kepler—There was a period last year where Kepler was the hottest hitter in baseball. Pitchers finally caught up to him the second and third time that they faced him, but Kepler is such a student of the game that the coaching staff thinks that he will step up again this year and become a fixture in their OF. I love him as a 5th OF in 15 team leagues.
DH Kennys Vargas—If you are looking for a guy who can hit 15+ HR at the end of your draft Vargas might be the guy.
SP Ervin Santana—Santana is the de facto number one starter for the Twins, and he did an excellent job last year of keeping them competitive. He only won seven games last year, but he pitched well enough to win more. I am not sure that Santana will ever be a 200 IP pitcher, but a repeat of 180 is not out of the question.
SP Kyle Gibson—The Twins have been hoping that Gibson will step up and be a solid number two starter, but up until this point he has been nothing but a major disappointment. There are reports that Gibson has changed his throwing motion which should allow him to protect his bad shoulder which troubled him last season. The words “shoulder problem” is a big red flag for me and I cannot imagine drafting him in any league this season.
SP Hector Santiago—Santiago is ok in AL-only leagues, but I don’t think he is worth the risk in shallow mixed league formats.
SP Jose Berrios—Berrios has post-hype sleeper written all over him in 2017. Last year, Fantasy owners were projecting a huge breakout for Berrios, but he struggled with his control and got sent back to the minors for more seasoning. He has nothing to prove in Triple-A right now so expect him to learn on the job. Take a shot on Berrios later in your drafts—he might just pay off big time!
SP Phil Hughes—He should not be on your Fantasy radar this season.
RP Trevor May—May might have the best arm in the bullpen but unless Kintzler implodes he might be used as a setup man at the end of games.
Closer Brandon Kintzler—I wouldn’t call Kintzler overpowering (only 35 Ks in 54 IP), but he has pretty good control and showed that he was tough in pressure situations. Even bad teams have closers who can save 40+ games, and Kintzler might be that type of guy.