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Twins and Misc 2016 Projections

My projected opening day lineup and what I wish it was, left and right respectively:
CF – Buxton                                  2B – Dozier
2B – Dozier                                   1B – Mauer
1B – Mauer                                    RF – Sano
RF – Sano                                      DH – Park
DH – Park                                     3B – Plouffe
3B – Plouffe                                   LF – Rosario
LF – Rosario                                  C   – Murphy
C  – Suzuki                                     SS – Santana
SS – Escobar                                  CF – Buxton

They reasoning on Bux at the bottom is to let him develop at the beginning of the season. As he gets the hang of it, move him to the top. I would go Murph behind the plate only because of Kurt showing a half of a good season in the 2 that he has been here. Some of my other picks would change but this is also because of who I am guessing will break camp with the team. The rotation will and should be:

SP1 – Gibson                        Gibson
SP2 – Hughes                      Hughes
SP3 – Santana                      Santana
SP4 – Nolasco                      Duffey
SP5 – Milone                        Berrios
SP6 – Milone

I would add a 6th starter for the first couple weeks only in name. I would have Duffey in the pen for a couple rounds of the rotation and then switch Berrios to the pen for a bit, just to see how Jose handles big league hitting, and the atmosphere. Im off loading Nolasco in any deal that is made. As for the bench and bullpen:

Bench
Santana                               Santana
Kepler                                  Kepler
Arcia                                    Arcia
Murphy                               Suzuki

Bullpen
Perkins                                Perkins
Jepsen                                  Jepsen
May                                      Fien
Meyer                                   Tomkin
Fien                                      Pressley
Tomkin                                Best Lefty Reliever left
Duffey

Now my favorite part, picking break out prospects that will make the Show this year and create havoc on preseason projections. These are the guys that could shake up everything for the Twins this year.

Berrios
I know he isn’t really an unknown but he could play into someone who can’t be held back anymore.

Adam Brett Walker
Has been a beast in the minors and depending on how everything shakes out in the outfield, he could make an impact.

Nick Burdi
Drafted in 2014, many analysts thought he would get called up late last year. Should see time this year at some point.

I also feel that a few of our veterans are in make or break seasons, or they get out right dealt. I see this as the last try for Arcia. Nolasco should be gone if anyone gets dealt. I like Plouffe but just think that at almost 30, if he starts the way he played for most of last year, he will be moved to make room for Sano at 3B. I feel this could be proving year for all of the shortstops because you have Polanco, who the staff has shown trust in, and Gordon waiting in the wings. If they play like they have, Santana will become a casualty, Escobar will be the utility, and I just don’t see Nunez making the impressions that he needs to. May and Meyer are getting what could be their last shots at Starting in the Majors before getting entrenched in the bullpen. Vargas, and I hope I am wrong, might not even get another chance to prove himself. I hope the Twins can keep him long enough to convince Joe to retire.

Forcast
Here is where the title ties in. Most human analysts are picking the Twins to finish last in the Central and it isn’t even close. Most are picking a regression from the young hitters, a lack of development of quality starting arms, and a bullpen that hasn’t been improved at all. To them, I say not all hitters will regress, at least 1 new starter will develop, and I don’t see how the bullpen can really get any worse.

Computers are putting Minny in a solid 4th in the division with us beating KC to escape the cellar. They are thinking much the same as the humans but still think we can do better than the reigning World Series Champs?!?! Weird, that they have KC somewhere around 10-15 games under .500 and not playing as a team. This is where I guess where some of the SABR metrics fall apart, you have a great “team” that has made it to the World Series for 2 straight years, won it last year, and you are looking at a forecast of barely 70 wins.

Me, I put Minnesota in a solid battle for 2nd in the division, battle for the Wild Card in the AL, and overall another solid season. I still think that Ned Yost will have his team on point in KC. I see a rebound from Detroit as they had a full off season to get over injuries while also adding a couple pieces. Cleveland is improving and has a great young talent in Francisco Lindor, but I just don’t see them getting over the dark cloud hanging over their lack of performance the last couple years. Chicago will not allow themselves to be as bad as they have been, but are fighting against a stacked deck.

Final 2016 Forecast:
Kansas City – 95 wins
Detroit – 88
Minnesota – 86
Cleveland – 82
Chicago – 79

I am picking the Central as the toughest division in MLB this year from top to bottom. Analysts will poopoo the records cause, like usual, we will beat up on each other. We won’t have any one team or even part of team stand out like the Mets starting rotation, or others’ top to bottom lineup either. The closest to a stand out squad will be KC in the bullpen again because they are so well coached and managed. I don’t see Miggy getting back to Triple Crown stats, or MVP either. I don’t see any Cy Young winners either in the Central. I am seeing teams that will be coached up to play a team game where the sum is more than the parts. The Central is known historically for teams that represent 1+1+1=5. Teams that play small ball better than sending out a Yankees lineup. Doesn’t mean that they don’t try to play the big money game, just that the most successful teams out of the Central are “complete teams” that don’t have holes and love playing the game for the guy next to them.

League Projections
AL Division Winners:
New York
Kansas City
Houston

AL Wild Cards:
Los Angeles (Win the play in game)
Detroit

NL Division Winners:
New York
St. Louis
San Francisco

NL Wild Cards:
Chicago (Win)
Arizona

Playoffs:
KC over LAA
NY over Houston
Cubs over STL
NY over SF

KC over NY
Cubs over NY

I am picking the Cubbies to hit their stride just in time to make the run to the Series and take it home in 7 game battle with KC. I see KC finally breaking down in the bullpen and see some in fighting that will start the break up. Theo Epstein will cement his enshrinement into Cooperstown by breaking the curse of the Billy Goat.

AL Awards:
MVP: Trout
CY: Zimmerman
ROY: Buxton (call me a homer)
Coach of the Year: Yost (again)

NL Awards:
MVP: Kris Bryant (nothing against Harper, just see a nagging injury during the 2nd half keep him out)
CY: Kershaw
ROY: Seager (Dodgers beast of a SS prospect)
COY: Matheny

All of those predictions are just gut feelings based on my own perceptions, so if you are going to put any money on them, go against. If you are fans of the teams or players listed, I am sorry because I am usually wrong more often than not on projections. Think about it, if I was any good at this, than I would be talking about my opinions on TV for a living. Speaking of, if any network needs someone to analyze and talk baseball, I can be had for a very affordable price.

I will see you guys on the eve of Opening Day and throughout the year. Until next time, get down and dirty cause its not a day at the park until someone hits the dirt.

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