The most difficult part of making predictions for the season is quite obvious. Any surprise successes or failures from last year are easily written off as the result of streaks, rather than a true reflection of talent. The contribution of prospects can’t properly be anticipated, because they didn’t play last year. Where are they at? Who knows!
With those caveats in place, here are a few random guesses about things that will happen with the Twins in 2021. Of course, I have the benefit of having seen the Twins play 3 games, but I don’t think that will benefit me too much. Let’s make some wild predictions.
First, the big one. How many games will they win? I think they are not as good as the pace they were on last year, as they will play games against teams outside of the Central Divisions, however, I think the Twins are improved in the rotation, and will bounce back given a full year of work on offense. They will be better than the average prediction of about 92 wins. I will put them at 94 for the season.
That will put them safely in the playoffs. I think it seems likely that they will finally win a game in the post season. As a home team, a win behind Kenta Maeda in Game 1 will propel them to a Game 2 win on the arm of Jose Berrios and an advance to the Championship Series. Of course, this is Minnesota, and I’m never going to be confident that they will make it to the World Series.
I think the rotation will be among the best in the American League. There is a lot of speculation about how the White Sox are catching up to the Twins, but I think they fail to match the Twins on the top of the spectrum. Maeda and Berrios are going to be formidable. Maeda, even with a step back and Berrios taking a step forward are going to be an incredible 1-2 punch. Then, any combination of Michael Pineda, J.A. Happ, Matt Shoemaker, Randy Dobnak, Lewis Thorpe, Devin Smeltzer or Jordan Balazovic will be a strong back end of a contending rotation.
Like I said, I think the offense is going to be a bit more formidable. I don’t think it’s any major leap to say players like Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco and Josh Donaldson were shells of themselves last year. A bounce back this year would put the Twins back on top of the most feared offenses lists in the league. I think a healthy year from Donaldson puts him at the top of the team in home runs. He is too solid of a hitter not to get there, even if he isn’t necessarily the most powerful.
The defense will be markedly improved, through at least part of the year. The infield defense takes a big step forward, thanks to the addition of Andrelton Simmons, while the outfield defense is improved if Byron Buxton stays healthy and Jake Cave plays left, replacing the subpar Eddie Rosario. When Alex Kirilloff comes into the league, the defense may step back, but the offensive benefit is much greater, and worth the step back.
One spot that I worry about is the bullpen. It’s younger, and while Alex Colome and Hansel Robles provide some veteran oomph, I worry about how green the middle relief is. Fortunately, the Twins have the assets to patch things up if they feel they are weak anywhere that is fixed by one or two additions.
I think rookies that the Twins will see this year include the already recalled Brett Rooker, Balazovic, Kirilloff and Bailey Ober. I’m sure there will be more. And I’m sure even these fairly general prognostications are going to be fairly wrong by the time all is said and done.