Thursday, March 27, 2014

2014 Minnesota Twins Predictions

Prior to the 2013 season, I made ten Minnesota Twins predictions.  Of those ten, I nailed six.  Honestly, that's a pretty good success rate.  However, two of the ten that I missed, I missed badly.  Here's a very quick recap on my predictions from last year:

Good:  Justin Morneau will be traded.  Josh Willingham will not be traded.  Rich Harden will not be good.  Joe Mauer will not win the AL batting title.  Oswaldo Arcia, Aaron Hicks and Kyle Gibson will make their MLB debuts.  Trevor May, Eddie Rosario and Alex Meyer will not make their MLB debuts (all correct, long live the King). 

Not quite:  Joe Mauer will win the OBP crown (he finished third).

Bad:  Kevin Correia will be bad (he was not bad).

Bad and slow-working:  Mike Pelfrey will be good (he was not good).

Downright terrible and undoing every good prediction made:  Vance Worley will be good (he was...ugh).

So, 6 of 10, but the Worley debacle takes a billion points from my slate, leaving me with nearly negative one billion prediction points.  Can I do better in 2014?  I'm turning the volume to 11 with 11 Twins predictions, each one more bombastic and brash than the next.  I'll start with the easy ones and move to the tough calls.

Let's roll:

Prediction #1 - Sam Deduno will be voted King of Minnesota

This could be tricky because Minnesota is part of a sovereign nation and a democratic nation at that.  If one man on the Twins can win the hearts of the fans and earn the right to rule over the masses, it is clearly Magic Sam. 

Prediction #2 - Kevin Correia will be traded by the end of the season

The Twins actually have five competent starters right now.  It's shocking, I know.  If you count King Magic Sam, you get to six.  Kyle Gibson needs to be on the active roster for most of this season and Alex Meyer is lurking (see prediction #4).  The Twins will need to open up a rotation spot at some point and Correia is in the final year of his contract.  Correia was 5,000 times better than I thought he would be, but if the Twins can flip him for a younger piece while opening a spot in the rotation, they'll wisely make that move. 

Prediction #3 - Eddie Rosario and Trevor May will not make their MLB debuts

I don't think May will do enough at AAA to earn a spot, especially with a better and more talented prospect in Alex Meyer (see prediction #4 again) ahead of him on the depth chart.  Kris Johnson, Brooks Raley, Sean Gilmartin and Logan Darnell could all be used in a spot start as well.  There are too many guys ahead of him.  Rosario is an obvious call, as he will miss the first two months and then need time to continue his transition to second base. 

Prediction #4 - Bryon Buxton, Alex Meyer and Danny Santana will make their MLB debuts

These three seem to have relatively clear paths to the Majors.  Santana has actual upside, making him an attractive candidate for when Pedro Florimon is hitting .210 in June.  Meyer could easily replace Correia when he gets traded.  Buxton is just too exciting to keep the Minors for a full season.  I envision Buxton getting a September call-up and never going back to the Minors. 

Prediction #5 - Pedro Florimon out, Eduardo Escobar in

Do you like predictions that contradict each other?  When Pedro Florimon is hitting .210 in June, I actually think Eduardo Escobar will get the first crack at the shortstop job.  However, even though everyone in the World seems to love Escobar, he'll get replaced shortly thereafter.  It will be kind of like when Yokozuna beat Bret Hart at Wrestlemania 9, but Hulk Hogan just came in after the match and beat Yokozuna for the title.  The diminutive Escobar is the 500-lb Yokozuna in this analogy.  Escobar won't get a long leash and he'll relinquish the job to the more promising Santana.  I'll lose my mind before eventually admitting that it's the right move. 

Prediction #6 - Josmil Pinto will replace Kurt Suzuki as the full-time catcher by June

Two major reasons.
  1. Kurt Suzuki is the same guy who has hit .235/.290/.353 since 2011, his age 27, 28 and 29 seasons.  
  2. Josmil Pinto is going to hit extremely well in his part-time role.  
The combination of those two reasons will be too much for the Twins' brass to ignore.  When the offense is sputtering as we all expect in June, the allure of better offense from an exciting, young player will be impossible to deny.  Pinto will replace Suzuki because he's better and it won't take long to figure that out (some may have already figured that out). 

Prediction #7 - Phil Hughes will be better than Ricky Nolasco

Upside, baby!  Nolasco is going to be who he is.  He'll throw around 200 innings, post an ERA around 4 and generally be worth his $12 million.  Hughes is going to be better than his $8 million.  I've explored all the avenues and come to the conclusion that Hughes has been really unlucky in his career.  He's been a better pitcher away from Yankee Stadium, but only because he's surrendered fewer home runs.  His fielding-independent stats were actually a bit better at home, but all the home runs really ruined his work. 

The shift from a short porch in right to a park that suppresses home runs will go a long way for Hughes and a long way for the Twins.  When you also consider his age and the relative lack of innings on his arm, his upside is a 200-inning, 3.50 ERA pitcher and that would be better than steady Ricky Nolasco.  
Going a step further, I think Hughes gets an even bigger boost in 2015 when Byron Buxton and Aaron Hicks combine to catch all of the fly balls.  Of course, that's a prediction for next season, isn't it?

Prediction #8 - Oswaldo Arcia will finish the season with 55+ extra-base hits

I'm all-in on Arcia in 2014.  I've predicted him as my AL breakout player and I think he's going to become the Twins' second-best hitter by season's end.  Now, that's like being the second-best something at a something convention, but it's still something.  Right?  I envision about 30-35 doubles and 20-25 home runs.  Too many?  He was on pace for 26 doubles and 22 home runs as a 22-year-old rookie last year (had he played 150 games instead of 97).  It seems conceivable that he will get better in his second season and play a lot more games. 

Not impressed with 55 extra-base hits?  Here's a list of players 23 or younger who have accomplished that feat in the last ten years:

Lots of great players on that list and Jeff Francoeur.  It works out to just fewer than five instances per year.  It will be impressive when Arcia joins that group in 2014.

Prediction #9 - Joe Mauer will win his 4th batting title

Mauer! Mauer! MAUER!  With the tools of ignorance no longer in his possession, Mauer will be freed up to prey on the ignorance of opposing pitchers.  They'll scoff when "Old Man Mauer" struts to the plate.  They won't be scoffing when their caps are knocked clean off their heads by repeated line drives up the middle.  I predict that Mauer will get into prolonged "grooves" that will no longer be squelched by day games after night games or "general soreness."  Now, Mauer will be able to find his swing and keep it going every day.  This will lead to hitting streaks, 5-5 evenings and a batting title at the end of the season. 

This ignores the fact that there is research that I refuse to cite that proves that catchers do not hit better when they move to a new position.  Joe Mauer transcends science, research, stats, nerds, Nerds, and my inability to quickly find something on Google.

Prediction #10 - Chris Colabello will hit more home runs for the Twins than Josh Willingham

Yeah, that's right, I'm going bold!  I actually think Willingham will bounce back to an extent, but I don't think he gets through the year on the Twins, at least not as a successful player.  If he does find his power stroke, he becomes trade bait.  If he doesn't find his power stroke, he won't hit home runs.  It's simple as that.

Colabello has been one of the Twins' best hitters during Spring Training and he earned a spot on the team last summer with a great AAA season.  Jason Kubel has been disappointing this Spring (if you expected anything from him) and I can see no reason to believe that he'll be able to keep his roster spot for the entire season.  That leaves Colabello as the Twins' DH and I think he'll hit 20-25 home runs, more than Willingham will have time to hit in his 4-5 months on the team.

I don't even care if Colabello is sent to AAA to start the season (he still hasn't technically made the team).  He'll force his way onto the MLB roster just like he did last season.  He's really big.  Like, strong big.

Prediction #11 - The Twins will win at least 75 games

EVEN BOLDER!  A nine-win improvement would seem like a bounty of wins for this win-deprived fan base.  However, I think the Twins have done enough with their rotation and have enough young players on the upswing to see this kind of improvement in 2014.  75 wins is still probably good for 4th in the Central and the Twins still have more building to do in order to get to an actual exciting win total in the future, but a nine-win improvement is a step in the right direction. 

My butt is officially on the line!  You're out of order!  What do you think of my predictions?  I'm going big this year, no holding back.  What do you predict for 2014?  Are you and I on the same wavelength, or do you see things differently?  I have some lemon juice in my eye, so please keep that in mind.  See you in the regular season!

If you looooooove predictions, do I have a treat for you.  I predicted award winners and league champions, free of charge!  Here's the National League and the American League, for the lovers.  Take care.


  1. Yeah, sadly, Francoeur never did as well as his potential, but seems like he was a great guy. He was beloved here in Oakland, even as a member of another team:

    1. By all accounts, he's a super guy. He's a better baseball player than he gets credit for too. Maybe not now, but he has been good in the past. He just doesn't walk much and that's a hot-button topic.

  2. Not only will Samuel Deduno become King of Minnesota, Eduardo Escobar will become King of USA ;) haha great stuff!

    1. I could see that happening, if the Powers That Be ever let him play...