2017 Fantasy Baseball: Minnesota Twins Team Preview
The Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros have provided a blueprint. The goal is not to relentlessly suck per se. In reality, the goal is just not to try to overtly win. It is said that a team of replacement level players will win somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 games. So, what is the appreciable difference between 50 wins and 70 wins? Some might find such talk overly cynical, but the fact is that you get more value out of players in their first four seasons than the rest of their careers combined in terms of wins per million dollars. So, why not accrue as many good young players as possible and build a nucleus good enough to win in say 2018 or 2019?
2B Brian Dozier
1B Joe Mauer
3B Miguel Sano
RF Max Kepler
CF Byron Buxton
Top Draft Picks
Brian Dozier sticks out like a sore thumb. He sticks out like a sore thumb in a good way. He is probably the third or fourth best second baseman on the draft board for a team that doesn’t have any other player in shouting distance of the top ten at their position. They spend virtually the entire offseason trying to trade him and he still might wind up in a different uniform before opening day. If still a Twin, he’s good for at least 25 home runs and upwards of 20 steals if healthy.
On the mound, there is virtually nothing worth taking in the upper rounds. The Twins pitching staff has disaster written all over it. The closest we can come to a high draft pick is Ervin Santana. His best shot is to be traded to a team capable of hitting and fielding behind him. Rotation positions are overrated, but as the number one starter he will face better pitchers out of the gate for the most part. He’s decent enough, but decent doesn’t cut it there.
Byron Buxton’s 2016 was a tale of two seasons. His overall numbers left a lot to be desired, but he was a much different player in September. He had a .287/.357/.653 slash line with nine home runs, 24 runs scored, 22 RBI and one stolen bases. Odds are good that he won’t produce those numbers again, but an .800 OPS with speed is highly possible and in that case he could be a valuable fantasy player.
in 2014, Phil Hughes was one of the best pitchers in the American League. In 2015 and 2016, he was one of the worst. He is definitely not worth taking until the final few rounds and even then he will probably last all the way through your draft unless you are in an AL only league or your league has something like 40 rounds and a dozen bench slots. So, you can monitor him on the waiver wire and take him on the waiver wire later on.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There is nothing worse in fantasy sports than the memory of a great player. Joe Mauer may make into the Hall of Fame as a catcher. Yes, he’s no longer a catcher but stranger things have happened. He’s no longer that guy. The Twins built everything around him and now they just wish someone would take that contract off their hands. He’s signed through 2018, so next offseason might be their best opportunity to deal him. For now, expect a decent batting average and virtually no power.
Hector Santiago had a decent career going until 2016 and even then there were parts that looked good. He finished 13-10 and had ERAs under four in every season before 2016. The batted ball ghost was trailing him and finally caught up to him last season. Even then, his fielding independent pitching (FIP) was still higher than his ERA. For his career, he has a sobering 4.73 career FIP to compare to his career 3.84 ERA. He’s pitching on a bad team. That good batted ball luck is about to come crashing down.
You heard of Brandon Kintzler? I haven’t heard much about him either. The closing fraternity is limited to 30 members at any one time, but even given that total there are some guys you should avoid. If a team is destined to win between 50 and 60 games, there just aren’t going to be that many opportunities to come around. Plus, Glen Perkins should come back around June and reclaim the position. However, I wouldn’t waste too much time on him either.
Minor League Prospects
One of the pitfalls a bad team must avoid is the temptation of rushing prospects. They picked Nick Gordon in the first round in 2014 and he has been slowly making his way up the system. He should start in AA this season which means they will be tempted to give him a chance at some point. He needs more seasoning, but the abyss they have at short this season might tempt them just the same.
They have a similar problem with 2015 first rounder Tyler Jay. Their pitching is so dreadful they will be tempted to go with him sometime this season. He had five games in AA, so he will likely start there. Overall, the progress in his first full season was promising. He has a plus fastball and slider to go along with a solid changeup and curveball. The combination is enticing if he can control all four offerings.
Only seven teams have lower payrolls at the moment than the Twins. If they found a taker for just Joe Mauer they would end up with the fourth lowest payroll in the sport.