Next up on the “30 Teams in 30 Days” schedule is the Minnesota Twins. Another year, another American League Central titlem or at least that is the hope of any Twins fan. After a busy year which saw the Twins open a new stadium, win 94 games and pretty much dominate the American League Central, Minnesota has their work cut out for them going into 2011 as everyone in their division (outside of the Royals) got better.
In “30 Teams in 30 Days,” the Fantasy Baseball Cafe will preview each team in Major League Baseball on a daily basis. In addition to projecting starting lineups, rotations and closing situations, the Cafe will identify potential targets for 2011 fantasy baseball drafts.
|2B||Tsuyoshi Nishioka||0.346||0.423||0.482||11||121||59||22||596||in JPN|
Unsetteled: The Twins infield is full of questions, and whether Morneau stay healthy all year long is probably the biggest. Morneau was off to one of his best starts when he suffered a season ending concussion. No one really knows how close Morneau is to returning or quickly he can get back up to speed. Tsuyoshi Nishioka had a strong year in 2010 playing in Japan but how that will translate against better pitching and fielding is hard to say. His BA of .346 was helped by an unsustainable BABIP, but something close a .280 BA with 10 HRs would be within reach. Danny Valencia and Alexi Casilla are both young and looking to prove themselves but neither one has much fantasy value. Casilla does have good speed and could be a nice source of steals, but there is little else to be excited about here.
Target: Joe Mauer and Delmon Young. Mauer is clearly the best catcher in the game and if he can gain a little of his 2009 power, he could end up being a top-ten hitter. It is hard to believe that Delmon Young is only 25, and it looks like he might have finally tapped into some of the potential that had him as a top prospect only a few years ago. Young carried over some of the power he showed us in the second half of 2009 and should continue being a good source of power and average.
Unsettled: Both Kevin Slowey and Scott Baker have been well thought of for years but neither one has lived up to those expectations. Baker has tremendous stuff and with a K/IP around 8.0, he really should be doing better but has a tendency to give up the long ball too often. Slowey on the other hand has been slowed down because of injuries and has yet to pitch more than 160 innings in a season. Both could easily harness their talents and take themselves to a new level, but I would draft them for their 2010 numbers and hope for something better. Call me skeptical, but I don’t trust Carl Pavano. He had some of the best control in the league last year and as long as he can keep that up, he should be worth owning but I for one will let someone else take that chance.
Target: Welcome back Francisco Liriano. Last year, Liriano gave us the numbers we have been wanting from him ever since he came back from Tommy John surgery three years ago. Both his strikeout rate and his walk rate are top notch add that with a 5% HR to flyball rate and he is a top 20 SP.
The 8th and 9th Innings
|Joe Nathan||47||2.1||0.93||89||22||68.2||in 2009|
Chasing Saves: Everything relies on how Joe Nathan recovers from Tommy John surgery, and so far reports are looking good. When fully healthy, Nathan is an elite closer. He should be the team’s closer as soon as he is healthy. Matt Capps on the other hand has good control but doesn’t strike a lot of people out, which makes him a nice eighth inning guy. He should fill in for Nathan until he is ready and will be there if things don’t go as planned.
The 2011 Minnesota Twins should go into the season as the divisional favorites but they will have a lot of competition to actually get it done. While most of the teams around them got better, the Twins actually took a step back. They lost four players from their bullpen to free agency and two of their best are recovering from major injuries. The rotation is pretty much the same as last year but with enough ability to be better, and the infield is a little inexperienced but should have enough solid contributors to compete. Giving these two things, the Twins should be competitive all season and they have a good chance of another division title or a wild card berth.
Check back tomorrow as we start previewing the teams of the AL West.
Sean Brown is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Sean in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of MaudDib.
Want to write for the Cafe? Check out the Cafe's Pencil & Paper section!