The White Sox made a lot of headlines for their early offseason acquisitions. It started with a trade for Lance Lynn, which seems a strange player for the Twins to lament going to a divisional rival, and was followed up by free agent signings of Adam Eaton and Liam Hendriks. With the White Sox also replete with young and emerging talent, and the Twins traditional quiet start to the offseason, local and national baseball observers started wondering if the division was going to be Chicago’s for the taking.
Last year, the Twins and White Sox finished only a game apart. Extrapolated over a 162 game schedule, that would have worked out to about a 3 game difference. Pretty close! That said, the additions the White Sox made wouldn’t have certainly given them the division. The Twins are still pretty good!
The comparison of offseason moves made by the White Sox and Twins left something important out of the equation. The Twins didn’t have as many holes, and are likely to replace any lags in production with health and a return to form, potentially brought about by playing 3 times as many games.
According to Fangraphs’ ZIPS projections, the most valuable three players in the Twins lineup will be Josh Donaldson, Luis Arraez and Max Kepler, all of whom are returning from last year’s roster. Donaldson was hurt for a lot of his first season with the Twins, while Max Kepler had a down season, that looked worse under the scope of the shortened slate. A return to health and a returned to form max the narrow Gulf between Minnesota and Chicago widens appreciably.
The Twins ultimately did strengthen their roster. Andrelton Simmons and particularly his defense, will make the defense and the rotation better. The White Sox’ addition of Liam Hendriks is tempered by the fact that he replaced Alex Colome, a good closer that is coming to Minnesota, not to replace anyone, but to strengthen the bullpen.
The Twins didn’t have a lot to do this offseason, despite the impressions their 2020 season, and Chicago’s December may have left. They are still the favorites in 2021, as far as I’m concerned.