Thursday, March 31, 2011

Best Twins Team Ever?

This year's Twins could be its best ever. I am not going to spend a lot of time evaluating past Twins teams. But the current lineup combined with pitching depth could make this one of the strongest, if not THE strongest Twins team. Certainly in recent memory going  back to the last time they played baseball outdoors at Met stadium. 

The Lineup

Denard Span - Span has the potential to hit .300, will take a lot of pitches and is a good baserunner who can steal when called on. 

Tsyoshi Nishioka - Nishoka looks like a solid number two hitter. He will hit for average, can play little ball and is the fastest runner in the system. And he knows how to use that speed to steal bases.

Joe Mauer - Mauer is a recent MVP and capable of putting up another season just like it.

Justin Morneau - Like Mauer, Morneau is a recent MVP. In fact, he may have been an MVP again last year if he had stayed healthy.

Delmon Young - Young hasn't been an MVP, yet. But he certainly has that potential. He is a .300 hitter with growing power.

Justin Kubel - Kubel is another.300 hitter with home run power. 

MIchael  Cuddyer - Unlike the first 6 hitters, Cuddyer is not a .300 hitter. But he can hit 20+ home runs with decent average.

Danny Valencia - Another guy who has hit .300 last year and added some power towards the end of the season. Not numbers you expect to be releagated to a number 8 hitter.

Alexi Casilla - Like Span and Nishioka, Casilla has speed, decent on base skills and a little gap power. He profiles as a leadoff or number two hitter, but not on this team.

This lineup is not the 27 Yankees. But if everything goes right, it is the best offense in baseball. It is relentless from top to bottom. Guys who can get on base and run at the top of the order.  MVP power and average in the middle of the order with solid hitters to follow. It strings together three little ball guys who can both set up the middle of the order and manufacture runs in low scoring games. This team will clobber mediocre pitching and can scrape out runs even against elite pitchers who shut down the middle of the order.

The Starters

What sets this starting staff apart is its depth. All six starters have all shown their ability to consistently keep the team in the game. Over the course of the season that depth means the Twins will not be auditioning minor league pitchers pressed into duty as a result of injuries or failure. There aren't going to be very many games where opposing teams will have a safe lead early. Nor are they going to hand the game over to the bullpen in the 6th inning very often.

The Bullpen

This bullpen has two former allstar closers in Narthan and Capps. But like the starting staff, it is again depth that characterizes the bullpen. They have a half dozen guys at AAA who would be in the bullpen for most other teams. Neshek was released because he couldn't even take a AAA spot and is now in the Padres bullpen. 

The Bench 

The bench has three players. A future HOF in Thome as the extra bat and Tolbert and Repko has defensive replacements. Given the offensive power in the Twins lineup, that combination is exactly what you are looking for.


This is a completely sunny description of the Twins. But this is opening day - which is a time for optimism. Likely not everything will work out, but if it does this team could win 110+ games. Can it win the World Series? Sure, but only after it gets to the playoffs. I think by the trade deadline this team will have us talking about what they need to do to be successful in the playoffs, not to hold off their central division rivals. 

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