Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Over/under: Wins for Twins
By David Schoenfield
From 2002 through 2010, the Minnesota Twins averaged 89 wins per season and made the playoffs six times. Coming off a 94-win season in 2010, they were the preseason favorites to win the AL Central.
Instead, the team collapsed, going 63-99 and finishing 32 games behind the Tigers in the division.
With Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau combining for just 621 plate appearances -- and without much production -- the Twins scored 619 runs, 13th in the AL, and hit the fewest home runs in the AL. And that wasn't just a Target Field effect; the Twins hit the second-fewest home runs on the road. Three of their four players who hit double-digit home runs are gone -- Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel and Jim Thome. Josh Willingham will provide some power, but unless Mauer and Morneau bounce back big, where are the Twins going to get runs?
Right now, the rotation looks like Carl Pavano, Scott Baker, Francisco Liriano, Nick Blackburn and Jason Marquis. The Twins ranked last in the league in strikeouts in 2011, a problem that expects to persist in 2012. Closer Matt Capps is coming off a 4.25 ERA and just 34 strikeouts in 65.2 innings.
The over/under is 74 wins. I'll admit: I don't see a lot of positives here, even if Mauer and Morneau are healthy and produce. I'm taking the under.