What Success or Failure Looks Like for the Most Important Twins in 2019

AP Photo/Nick Wass
[et_pb_section fb_built=”1″ _builder_version=”3.19.14″][et_pb_row _builder_version=”3.19.14″][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”3.19.14″][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.19.14″]

The Minnesota Twins (finally) begin the season this week. But what can we expect from the Twins this year?

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_code _builder_version=”3.19.14″]


[/et_pb_code][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.19.14″]

Well said, Yoda. This is a talented Twins team that could come together and make a serious run… but that talent could also all get hurt in the first week of the year like last season and end up in 3rd place again in the Central Division. While I can’t predict the future, I can give you a good idea of what it will look like if 5 of the Twins most important pieces succeed or fail, and how they all fit together.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src=”https://www.minnesotasportsfan.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/SANO30.jpg” _builder_version=”3.19.14″][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.19.14″]

Miguel Sano

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_code _builder_version=”3.19.14″]

[/et_pb_code][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.19.14″]

Miguel Sano finds himself at a crossroads heading into the 2019 season. After another freak injury slowed the start of his 2019 Spring Training, he once again finds himself behind the 8-ball. And after a season where he found himself demoted all the way to Single A, Sano has a lot to prove in what might be his final shot. If Sano plays well, then he will stick around and become a staple of this franchise for the foreseeable future. If he struggles again, we may see the last of him in a Twins uniform.

 What success looks like: Miguel Sano can hit home runs, we know that. In his rookie season in 2015 he hit 18 home runs in 80 games. His numbers dipped a little in 2016 but he still hit 25 dingers in 116 games. Sano’s most productive season was 2017, when he hit 28 homers and drove in 77 runs in 114 games. Even in a disastrous 2018, where he only played in 71 games and batted a putrid .199, Sano still hit 13 home runs.

 Sano will miss the first few weeks of the season, but seeing that he’s never played more than 116 games in an MLB season, he’ll have plenty of time to put up numbers as big or bigger than in seasons past. The addition of Marwin Gonzalez will afford Sano more time to ease in as a DH, while he finishes his recovery. That should help his bat come around more quickly. Baseball-Reference projects him to hit 19 home runs in 2019.

 What failure looks like: Injury-ridden.

If Sano suffers a setback in his rehab and misses most of May or his conditioning suffers due to his walking boot, that’s caused him over a month of conditioning. Or if Sano isn’t able to play 3rd base, due to injury or poor conditioning. All of these injury and health factors could lead to Sano having another disastrous season and likely a trip elsewhere next year. Outside of injuries and weight/health, if Sano doesn’t show improved plate discipline, he’ll never reach his potential.

 What 2019 Miguel Sano looks like: Give me the over on those projected numbers. Sano is hungry to prove he can stick at the major league level and I think he does it. Put me down for .260 30 home runs and 100+ RBIs (all in 130-ish games).

 BOLD Sano prediction (because above wasn’t bold enough): Sano forces the Twins to buy at the Trade Deadline, singlehandedly, with 10 plus home runs in July.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src=”https://www.minnesotasportsfan.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/twins-spring-baseball-feb-23-2017-12.jpeg” _builder_version=”3.19.14″][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.19.14″]

Byron Buxton

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_code _builder_version=”3.19.14″]

[/et_pb_code][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” _builder_version=”3.19.14″]

Another Twin in need of a big bounceback campaign, Buxton has been slowed by injuries and inconsistency throughout his young career. We have seen flashes of his potential, and if he can put it together for a full season (and stay healthy) he’ll be a great CF at the Major League level. If not, he will join Miguel Sano in needing a change of scenery.

What success looks like: Byron Buxton’s biggest flash of optimism happened in the second half of 2017, when he hit 11 home runs down the stretch with a .300 BA. His defense is already good enough to warrant him being in the lineup every day, when healthy, and some “back to the basics” with his swing has resulted in monster numbers in spring training.

Success would be Buxton flying all over Target Field, making acrobatic catches and hitting gaps with the stick, increasing his confidence and allowing him to finally unlock his full potential. Success for Buxton this year would be nearly 150 games played with the production that resembles the end of his 2017.

What failure looks like: Injured… again.

Another big talent and more injury concerns… If Buxton gets hurt early on and can’t stay on the field, all of the progress we’ve seen in Spring Training could be for not. Beyond injuries though, if Buxton again struggles with off-speed pitches and takes hits to his confidence early, who knows where his career goes..

What 2019 Byron Buxton looks like: If Buxton’s Spring Training numbers are any indication, he should be in line for a huge bounce-back campaign. Baseball-Reference has him projected for .237 with 8 home runs. I’m taking the (way) over on those numbers. If (BIG if) we get 150 games from him, 15 home runs, 90 runs scored and a batting average around .270 that would be a massive win for the Twins.

BOLD Buxton prediction: Buxton steals 50 bases and is only caught 5 times.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src=”https://www.minnesotasportsfan.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/vine-a-ganar-nelson-cruz-confia-que-minnesota-ira-a-playoffs.jpg” _builder_version=”3.19.14″][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.19.14″]


[/et_pb_text][et_pb_code _builder_version=”3.19.14″]

[/et_pb_code][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” _builder_version=”3.19.14″]

Cruz was the big free agent addition for the Twins this offseason. With an offense that already boasts several impressive young players, he felt like a perfect fit as the veteran DH. Cruz has been remarkably consistent throughout his career, and will be a welcome addition to the middle of the lineup. The biggest question with Cruz is whether or not his numbers dip (down to .256 & 97 RBI…) last year was just a blip on the radar or a sign of gradual decline. The Twins will happily take Cruz, even on a “down year”

What success looks like: Cruz has averaged 40 homeruns over the last 5 seasons in both Seattle and Baltimore. While it is very easy to hit homeruns in Baltimore, it isn’t as easy in Seattle, so his numbers look very good, overall. Target Field initially was labeled a “pitchers park” but it seems that the offense has started to catch up. If Cruz can replicate his numbers over the past few years and be one of the leaders in the clubhouse, his addition will go down as one of the better signings the Twins have had in recent memory.

What failure looks like: If the 2018 season was not just a down year for Cruz and he declines at an even faster pace..Or, if he battles injuries and isn’t able to stay on the field. Those are really the only 2 factors that can lead to Cruz having a season deemed “a failure”

What 2019 Nelson Cruz looks like: Nelson Cruz is projected to hit 34 home runs and drive in 101 runs in 2019. I will again take the over because Cruz is hungry to prove last year was a fluke. Plus he loves hitting at Target Field.

BOLD Cruz prediction: 45 home runs for Cruz, and a Silver Slugger award for his efforts.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src=”https://www.minnesotasportsfan.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/usa_today_11369081.0.jpg” _builder_version=”3.19.14″][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.19.14″]

Trevor May

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_code _builder_version=”3.19.14″]

[/et_pb_code][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” _builder_version=”3.19.14″]

Unlike the offense, the Twins really didn’t throw any money into their pitching staff other than Martin Perez and Blake Parker. Craig Kimbrel is still twiddling his thumbs waiting for the phone to ring, but don’t get me started on that. Someone on this roster will have to get some saves. And I think Trevor May should be the one to get the shot. Rocco Baldelli hasn’t named a closer officially, and probably won’t for a while, but May has the stuff to thrive.

What success looks like: May grabs the closer role and never lets it go. He has the personality to handle the ups and downs of the job and would do the Twins a huge favor by stepping up and succeeding. May doesn’t rely on contact, and can blow hitters away. He becomes the latest in a long line of closers who fall into the role, including LaTroy Hawkins, Eddie Guardado, Joe Nathan and Glen Perkins.

What failure looks like: May has struggled with injuries throughout his career, including a Tommy John procedure that had him out for most of last season. If he struggles early, that could lead to a massive jump in his numbers and loss of confidence. Any prolonged inability to get hitters out could lead to a trip down to Rochester… or off the team completely.

What 2019 Trevor May looks like: Projections right now for May line up more with a late inning set-up reliever as opposed to a closer. I’m going to just throw these numbers out as what he could have: 75 appearances, 90 innings, 115 K’s and an ERA under 2.50. He is going to have a big year folks.

BOLD May prediction: 35 saves for May, and three playoff saves as well.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src=”https://www.minnesotasportsfan.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/032719.s.stp_.twins-rocco_0.jpg” _builder_version=”3.19.14″][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.19.14″]

Rocco Baldelli

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_code _builder_version=”3.19.14″]

[/et_pb_code][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.19.14″]

We finish with the Twins first year manager because he will be pivotal to this team’s success (or lack thereof). Baldelli was brought in because he is forward-thinking and innovative. The managers he has worked for are some of the most forward thinking and well-respected minds in the game. But how will he handle his first challenge? How will he handle his first late-game bullpen meltdown? How Baldelli reacts when the game is on the line will be nearly as important as how his players perform.

What success looks like: Baldelli employs some of the same tactics his former manager Kevin Cash has in Tampa Bay, and they lead to the team enjoying early success. While Cleveland falters, the Twins keep pace and make meaningful additions at the Trade Deadline and end up making the playoffs.

What failure looks like: The Twins struggle out of the gate. Baldelli turns out to be more of a Gabe Kapler than Kevin Cash, and the team ends up selling off assets at the deadline.

What 2019 Rocco Baldelli looks like: I expect Baldelli to manage aggressively, and to not be afraid to try new things. He will falter, as all managers do, but I think Baldelli enjoys success in his first year as Twins manager. The Twins are projected to win 80 games in 2019. Put me down for the over.

BOLD Baldelli prediction: 93 wins and Manager of the Year for Baldelli.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.19.14″]

So there you have it, some of the names that are most pivotal to Twins’ success in 2019. Will they? Won’t they? I have no idea. One thing I do know though:

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_code _builder_version=”3.19.14″]

[/et_pb_code][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.19.14″]

THIS is the one thing I am most happy about. Let Astudillo be the everyman. Let him play everywhere. Win or lose we should have fun with it. Because if it isn’t fun, what the hell is the point?

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_code _builder_version=”3.19.14″]


[/et_pb_code][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.19.14″]

Seth Toupal | MinnesotaSportsFan.com

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_code _builder_version=”3.19.14″][/et_pb_code][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]
Mentioned in this article:

More About: