When the Minnesota Twins announced Paul Molitor to be their next manager during the 2015 offseason, they felt they had won the lottery. Molitor, a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, had all the knowledge and tools to be a great major league manager. Fast forward four years ahead, and Molitor is left without a job, going just 305-345 in 4 season with the Twins. The Twins now look to start a new chapter in their franchise and have a new fresh offense along with the youngest manager in baseball, Rocco Baldelli, to do just that.
One thing that attracts me to this new look Minnesota Twins team is the new acquisition of power hitting DH, Nelson Cruz. Cruz, a 38-year-old from the Dominican Republic, signed a 1-year, $14.3 million deal with the Twins during the 2019 offseason. Although Cruz is one of the older faces we have in our sport, he continues to produce year in and year out and is a player that could land in Cooperstown when all is said and done. In the last 5 seasons alone, Cruz has hit a total of 203 homers, driven in a combined 522 runs batted in, and has an average OPS of .888. This offensive production is going to instantly help a Twins offense who has struggled hitting for power over the last couple of seasons. You can expect Cruz to be the meat of the Twins lineup this summer and I see him finishing the year with about 35 homers, 105 RBI and a OBP of about .870. Cruz is one of those guys that proves age is just a number and the Twins should be counting their lucky stars that they landed him for at least a year.
If the Twins are going to experience success during the 2019 season, they will need production from their young outfielder, Eddie Rosario. Rosario, a 27-year-old from Puerto Rico, is the type of guy fans love. He hustles hard, makes outstanding plays in the field that make you stand up, and can handle the lumber exceptionally well. Last season, Rosario hit for a .288 BA, stroked 24 homers and drove in 77 runs. The thing that I like most about Rosario, is he is extremely discipline at the plate, and is not afraid to take his walks when they are presented to him. Because Rosario is so young and is almost guaranteed a contract extension in the near future, I can see him becoming a leader on this team and eventually, leading them to a division title, which they have not won since 2010.
As we move to the Twins pitching staff, there are primarily two guys who I would like to focus on. Starting with José Berríos, there may not be a more gifted athlete on this Twins team then the 24-year-old from Puerto Rico. For the first two years of Berríos’ career, the hard throwing righty was known as nothing more than an average arm from the Twin Cities. Then in 2018, everything changed. Berríos became better, stronger and faster, finishing the season with a 12-11 record to go along with 202 strike outs and 2 complete games. Berríos has quickly established himself as the ace of the staff and made himself a house hold name. Now am I saying Berríos is a top pitcher in baseball? No, he’s probably not even top 15, but he’s an ace and every successful team needs an ace to lead throughout the year. I expect Berríos to have a great 2019 season and help the Twins do some great things this summer.
The final guy I want to talk about on this Twins team is Kyle Gibson. It is very possible that you have never heard of Kyle Gibson and unless you are a Twins fan, you may never. He is a guy who doesn’t get talked about on Baseball Tonight and doesn’t bring home any fancy awards come year’s end. Gibson, a 31-year-old from Indiana, is a guy who is going to bring his lunch pail to work every day, and grind his ass off. He doesn’t have the stuff that will blow you away, but it is enough to get by. The Twins are not expected Gibson to be great in 2019 and heck, are not expecting much at all. But he does need to do something he has done during all 6 years of his major league career; be average as hell. If Gibson can do that and be the most average version of himself he can be, the Twins will be just fine.
This is the part of the article, where I place a landing spot for the Twins in 2019. After much thought and deliberation, I have decided to officially pronounce the Twins as the sleeper team of 2019. They have a really solid offense coming into the year that not many people have been talking about at all. They don’t have the best pitching in the world, but have enough to get by. When all is said and done, I have the Twins finishing the regular season with a 86-76 record, landing them a spot in the AL Wild Card game. Unfortunately for the Twins, they have absolutely no chance to go into the Bronx and beat the Yankees in the WC game, so this is where there season will come to a close. I know Minnesota is usually a cold city, but I have a feeling the Twins are going to be bringing plenty of warmth all year-long.