The Twins will be entering 2023 with a bit more optimism than the usual fare that comes along around the time of Spring Training. While they may be coming off of a couple of underwhelming seasons (78 wins in 2022, 73 in a brutal 2021 season where they undershot their projections by 15+ wins), they had an exciting offseason that saw them somehow end up keeping their star shortstop for the foreseeable future. There’s hope in Twinkie Town!
Expectations for 2023
The AL Central is once again up for grabs for anybody who happens to want it and based on the offseason they had, the Twins do indeed want this division. Keeping Carlos Correa was a stunning and improbable offseason victory for them and then they somehow topped that by taking advantage of a Marlins team that (for some reason or another) never really wanted Pablo Lopez. The Twins will gladly take him in order to improve their rotation and now they’ve got themselves a squad that could potentially be battling with the Guardians for the AL Central crown all season long.
The Twins don’t have the nicest projections, coming in with forecasted win totals in the 80-82 range. That may not look like much reason for hope, but the Guardians aren’t projected to be much better, and we’re still in expanded playoffs land, so there’s a pretty good chance the Twins make the postseason. They’re not a premier club at this point by any means, but in the AL Central, even being in that sometimes-undesirable “made kinda an effort” limbo can pay dividends.
Via Roster Resource:
Lineup: Byron Buxton (CF), Carlos Correa (SS), Jorge Polanco (2B), Max Kepler (RF), Jose Miranda (3B), Joey Gallo (LF), Alex Kirilloff (1B), Christian Vazquez (C), Nick Gordon (DH)
Bench: Ryan Jeffers (C), Kyle Farmer (INF), Donovan Solano (INF), Michael A. Taylor (OF)
Rotation: Pablo Lopez, Sonny Gray, Joe Ryan, Tyler Mahle, Kenta Maeda
Bullpen: Jorge Lopez, Jhoan Duran, Caleb Thielbar, Griffin Jax, Emilio Pagan, Jovani Moran, Trevor Megill, Jorge Alcala
Carlos Correa, assuming his body doesn’t fragment and vindicate the Giants and Mets both, looks like the most productive on this roster, and could be one of the best out of a currently-amazing crop of MLB shorstops. Then there’s Byron Buxton, who might be even more productive game-for-game, but appears to need to a miracle to stay healthy.
The Twins don’t wow you elsewhere, but the rest of the roster is mostly workman-like, with nearly every other non-SS, non-CF position ranking somewhere between 11th and 20th among teams.
One take is that the bullpen is basically Jhoan Duran... and not a lot of real quality past that. You could easily make the argument that this unit was the reason why they were never really a serious contender in 2022 and it’s pretty concerning for them that they responded by basically just running it back with a lot of the same guys in 2023. As a dodgeball enthusiast once said, “That’s a bold strategy, Cotton — let’s see how it plays out for them.” But, like much of the rest of the roster, it seems mostly just okay-ish.
Alex Kiriloff ran a huge xwOBA underperformance in his debut season in 2021 that tanked his line, but was legitimately putrid last year — penciling him at first base might be the biggest weakness of the team, but again, this team doesn’t really have a standout weakness. It just doesn’t have much beyond steady reliability to recommend it, once you move past Correa and Buxton.
Reinforcements from the Farm
The Twins are currently sitting on a farm system that could be best described as “middle of the road.” They’ve been dealing talent from their farm system in order to bolster their big league squad. They currently have three prospects in MLB.com’s Top 100, though that’s likely going to go down to two once Royce Lewis returns from injury and eventually graduates. Once that happens, SS Brooks Lee and OF Emmanuel Rodriguez are the two others and they aren’t expected to see big league action until 2024 at the earliest. They’re currently playing the long game with this system.
The Twins don’t really have much of a plan for DH at the moment, and we could see all sorts of prospect types, such as Lewis, Austin Martin, and Matt Wallner get tryouts there, or somewhere else in the lineup. Ronny Henriquez and Simeon Woods-Richardson are around to provide the rotation depth that’ll probably be needed at some point in the season, if not immediately.
Oh boy. Longtime Braves fans still have vivid memories of Atlanta having the “honor” of being the losing team in what is widely regarded as the greatest World Series ever played (in the modern era, at least). This is one of those rare matchups that will now become commonplace in baseball, as the Braves and Twins have only played each other 26 times in the regular season. The Braves managed to win seven in a row from 2010 through 2016 and are currently on a two-game winning streak against Minnesota after winning their 2019 series at the gorgeous Target Field. They’ll try to extend that streak June 25-27, as they welcome the Twins to Truist Park for a three-game set.