The Minnesota Twins finally made it through a season without their key hitters missing significant time. Unfortunately, the results were not as favorable as Minnesota could have hoped, finishing just 66-96. A hindrance on the immediate success of the Twins franchise was demonstrated when they parted with Ben Revere and Denard Span in order to bolster their desolate organizational pitching depth. The inspiration of these deals was an imbalance between the team’s hitting prowess and their pitching struggles. This was a step in the right direction for the future of the organization but should be detrimental to their success in 2013. The familiar names within the Minnesota lineup are worth considering for fantasy baseball and their young players should be monitored as future impact players.
The face of the Minnesota franchise, Joe Mauer, lived up to his healthy standards in 2012. Mauer has recently begun playing a portion of his games at first base to help avoid injury and prolong his career. The first base position is far more abundant with talent than catcher but the dual-eligibility only helps Mauer’s fantasy value. He is actually healthier than his reputation suggests, playing 130 or more games in six out of his eight full professional seasons. Mauer remains a top-five fantasy catcher despite an influx of young backstops.
The other established Twins veteran is Justin Morneau, who is more deserving of his fragile reputation. Morneau has averaged less than 100 games per season over his past three campaigns. Despite managing to navigate the 2012 season with few physical limitations, Morneau hit just .267 with a higher strikeout and lower walk rate than he had been accustomed to. Reports are that Morneau is reaching full strength just in time for his contract year, but it’s clear that his best days are behind him.
Josh Willingham was the biggest surprise for the Minnesota offense in 2012 and the main contributor to their respectable offensive rankings. Willingham was always a formidable power bat from the right side but his lack of versatility as a hitter and fielder kept him from ever being regarded among the game’s top players. Willingham went for 35 homers and 110 RBIs and was among the leaders at driving in the highest percentage of a team’s runs.
Several of the Twins top prospects may make their debuts at some point along the way in 2013. The future of the Minnesota outfield may be realized with the impending emergence of Oswaldo Arcia and Aaron Hicks. Alex Meyer, the tremendously talented pitching prospect (pun intended), may still be a year away but projects as a front end starter. The 6’9” starter was acquired from the Washington Nationals in the trade for Span. He is expected to begin the season in A+ ball but his skills and age will allow him to climb the organizational ladder quickly.
Minnesota also acquired the more established Vance Worley in their off-season endeavors. Worley has found success early on in his career but 2013 will determine whether or not Worley has what it takes to be an ace in this league. Beyond Worley, Minnesota has a variety of options to fill out the rest of their rotation, consisting of several projects.
Former first-round pick, Mike Pelfrey, will attempt to come back from Tommy John surgery, while Rich Harden hopes to restore the fading memory of his dominance.
Minnsota’s top five fantasy hitters: 1. Joe Mauer, 2. Josh Willingham, 3. Justin Morneau, 4. Trevor Plouffe, 5. Ryan Doumit.
Minnesota’s top three fantasy pitchers: 1. Vance Worley, 2. Scott Diamond, 3. Mike Pelfrey
Minnesota projected record: 67-95
Stay tuned over the next month while I preview one team each day in preparation for the 2013 baseball season.