Always nice to get that first one done. Always feels good. And somewhat a relief.
(That shadow lurking in the background is the memory of the 2016 season.)
Yesterday the Twins knocked the Orioles, 6-2. Sano hit his first of the season, a solo shot in the first. Six nothing till the ninth, and the boys were working on a no-hitter with two-outs in the 8th. Gibson tossed six hit-free innings, striking out 6 (while also walking 5.) Pressly worked the 7th and 8th, and gave up the hit. Gabriel Moya gave up a two run homer in the ninth. Moya was acquired from the Diamond Backs for catcher John Ryan Murphy and rocked double A ball last year, earning a late season call up.
Berrios pitches for the Twins today, and I rate our chances with him on the mound as good.
I wonder what happened to John Ryan Murphy? The Twins traded Aaron Hicks for him, after a season where he batted .277 in 155 at bats with the Yankees. He was a second round pick by the Yankees, made steady progress through their minors, hit .270 and then .246 at AAA. Then .146 for the Twins, followed by .236 and .222 at triple A. Then to Arizona, and I see he’s up in the bigs to start the season. Curious.
I’ve taken a pensive scan through the 2018 edition of the Twins, and at last come up with my 2018 prediction.
The positives I see:
- Starting pitching – reinforcements have arrived, and Odorizzi and Lynn are, I think, upgrades. And perhaps Berrios will continue to improve: (+2)
- Third base – where maybe young Sano can somehow stay healthy this season: (+2)
- Center field – where we hope to see continued Buxton improvement (+1.5)
- DH – Where Logan Morrison brings some consistency and a substantial upgrade from last year’s rotating cast: (+2)
This puts the Twins 7.5 games up from last season. Let’s call it eight. That puts them at 93-69 at year’s end.
On the downside:
- I’m not convinced yet that the bullpen has been improved.
- Is Mauer really back?
- Who’s out there at short?
So there’s a few questions heading into the season, but I counterbalance these with
- Brian Dozier seems to be headed to free agency: will he up his game?
- Our pitch-framing catcher is back
- Can Eddie Rosario take his game even higher?
All together, I see all these questions as a break-even proposition. And that still leaves as at 93-69 at year’s end.
But wait. There’s the Hubris penalty.
- I rounded up from 7.5, I might just as well have rounded down. Philosophically, it’s always better to assume the worst. (-1)
- And then there’s just my general historic and well-documented over-confidence about the Twins. (-1)
And so this puts the Twins at 6 games up from last season, and 91 – 71 at season’s end.
Unfortunately, Baseball Prospectus’s PECOTA projections say today that the Twins will finish at 82 -80 this season, scoring 789 runs, and giving up 784. Last year the Twins scored 815, and gave up 788. I’m not sure how they figure this club is going to score less runs than last year, but I’m sure they’ve put in all the numbers, the pitchers, the health factors, wind direction, economic conditions, seismic activity, global warming, bird migration patterns, oil prices, and bat velocities, and so 789 is probably a pretty good guess. Perhaps they know some things I don’t.
Still, I’ll be surprised if this team doesn’t score more, and give up less. There may be other factors that they’ve overlooked and that I took into account. Time will tell who’s right about this.
The hometown StarTribune stable of baseball mavens are just slightly more optimistic than the Prospectus stat-machine:
- Pat Reusse: 89-73
- Jim Souhan: 89-73
- Chip Scoggins: 87-75
- La Velle E. Neal III: 86-76
- Sid Hartman: 85-77
- Phil Miller: 83-79
Again, they probably are blessed with a wealth of arcane “inside” knowledge, drawn from deep within the inner sanctum of the clubhouse, that mere mortals not able to access. But I still think that they are being overly cautious. Probably because they have professional reputations at stake, and, as baseball writers, well there’s always a lot to criticize and they are happy to do so. And that, my friends, leads to a warped perspective, and a life of unhappiness.
I wonder if they write articles at the end of the season, talking about their forecast and the final outcome? Well, we shall see, gentlemen. We shall see.
By the way, here it is, baseball season, game 3, and it’s 26 degrees here, and there’s icy snow on the sidewalks, and there’s more snow predicted in the next couple of days.