This is our series of deep dives on depth charts for each team in the MLB. I use the term ‘deep dive’ very loosely as I examine specific questions for each team because that will allow me to do as little research as possible. Thanks for reading, make sure to click on the ads or at least view them a handful of times
QUESTION: CAN THE YOUNG BUCKS BECOME YOUNG STARS?
Back in the day the Royals did this whole rebuilding thing and it seemed liked everyone was writing about how they were going to take over the world once their young prospects matured. Eventually they did make it to two straight World Series, winning one, but the timeline was extended a number of times while they waited for the right combination of players. I feel like the Twins are cultivating a similar story, but one that I’m not sure has as happy of an ending.
Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Jose Berrios…these are all players we expected to be impacting Major League rosters by now. Of course they have more ammunition coming through their minor league system other than those four players, but so does every team that’s been bad for awhile. I remember drafting Sano when he was like 16 in my Rotisserie league and then watching him hit 35 dingers in the minors in 2013. Then he got to the majors and those 140+ strikeouts he was accumulating every year were no longer a cute side effect. In 2016 he struck out 178 times. However, he’s still a baby at 23 years old so expecting 30 home runs and less strikeouts isn’t unfeasible.
Buxton has been known as the uber prospect for the past three or four years. Yet he’s played almost a full season of Major League games and hasn’t sniffed a .700 OPS in total. The Twins have been criticized for rushing him, but it’s not as if his call up wasn’t deserved as he was clearly getting bored in the minors. This isn’t the telling year for Buxton on whether or not he can become as superstar, but he better at least show some damn flashes. Same with Jose Berrios, who pitched for Team Puerto Rico at the World Baseball Classic and may have lost his Opening Day roster spot because of it. Berrios got his tits licked in the Bigs and not making the team out of spring training tells me the Twins don’t expect much more yet. When he gets called up this year Minnesota might be evaluating if he works better as a starter or reliever.
Max Kepler is the only young stud on this team that you can literally sick back and watch develop without a care in the world. Maybe his ceiling isn’t as high as a Sano or Buxton, but his 17 home runs and .734 OPS as a 23 year old is a great foundation to build on. The question with all these guys and the players yet to make their debut is really more about the Twins timeline as an organization. Are they ready to make a Cubs-like leap within the next two-three seasons or are they destined to wait even longer like the Royals?
QUESTION: WHAT DO THEY DO WITH BRIAN DOZIER?
I’d compare Brian Dozier to Dustin Pedroia offensively but I’m not sure that would be fair to Dozier. Yes, Pedroia is probably the better overall hitter as he’s consistently batting .300, but he’s never even been in the stratosphere of hitting 30 home runs. Dozier hit 42 last season, and every one of them seemed like a pop up until the angry Minnesota Wild fan who is drinking to wash away the pain of yet another Wild playoff series loss in the left field bleachers found it in his beer.
If they were going to trade him, they probably missed their opportunity to get the most value possible. To me, that means the Twins think they’re closer to winning than I think they are. Dozier is at a weird age, 29, which makes him not young enough to be part of a long rebuild process but not old enough to trade away because it’s all downhill age-wise from here. If they only have 35 wins headed into the All Star break, expect him to be wearing a different uniform in September.
QUESTION: WHAT THE HELL IS THIS ROTATION?
Besides a 34 year old Ervin Santana, I don’t think it’s out of the question that the Twins will have a completely different rotation by the time the season ends. Hector Santiago is the prototypical #5 starter, yet he’s slotted is as a two or three because everyone else barely qualifies as a Major League pitcher. Former first rounder Kyle Gibson is simply not good. He walks too many guys, doesn’t strikeout enough guys, and allows guys to hit the ball too hard (he gave up almost 11 hits per 9 innings last season). Phil Hughes is a good Twitter follow and doesn’t walk anyone but gives up even more hits than Gibson. They let Tyler Duffey start 26 games last season while he accumulated a 6.43 ERA and who knows what they hell Adalberto Mejia is. What I do know is this is a whole lot of bad.
QUESTION: HOW MANY WINS?