In a fantasy baseball season anything can happen
Can the Minnesota Twins muster enough talent to contend in the American League Central this year?
The Twins open the season Monday in Chicago and logic is screaming a high-pitched "no-o-o-o" right now since Detroit, Cleveland and Kansas City won 27, 26 and 20 games more than the Twins did last year. On the other hand, this is baseball and we are in the season of hope, so why not indulge in some fantasy and see where it takes us?
The Twins had added starting pitchers in each of the last two off-seasons so last year's lousy staff ERA was a fluke. Good pitching can give any team a chance to hang in there until the late innings and the Twins are have a master plan. With the Rick Anderson system in place, a complete game for a Twins starter is no more than six innings. After that he leaves the game in the hands of whatever relievers Anderson decides to pitch.
Ricky Nolasco, Kevin Correia, Mike Pelfry, Phil Hughes and Kyle Gibson are penciled in as Minnesota's starting five at this point and they are all going to be brilliant. All they have to do is keep the ball down for five or six frames frames, let their fielders make the plays and then turn it over to guys like Caleb Thielbar, Jared Burton, Casey Fien, Anthony Swarzak, Sam Deduno, Brian Duensing and Glen Perkins. They slam the door on every lineup they face and the Twins win heart-stopping games with their dazzling pitching and smooth defense.
Of course the Twins are going to hit too, especially in the clutch. Joe Mauer is going to revert to his American League Most Valuable Player form of 2009 and carry Minny by playing in all 162 games. He is even going win a Gold Glove at first base and earn himself another shot at the All-Star Game.
Josh Willingham is not going to have a terrible season like he was last year with 14 homers and 48 ribbies. He is not injured this year and he is not going to be so he is going to hit 35 homers and drive in 110 runs like he did in 2012. Trevor Plouffe is going to find his 2012 bat too. He is going to hit 24 homers again and challenge Willingham for the team's RBI leadership. Both of these guys are going to cut way down on their strikeouts. No way are the Twins going to whiff a pathetic 1,430 times again (8.8 per game).
Youngsters like Oswaldo Arcia, Josmil Pinto and Aaron Hicks are going to get on base, score runs and drive in runs along with guys like Brian Dozier and Jason Kubal. By the end of the season the Twins are going to have massive help from Byron Buxton.
The Twins are going to play smart baseball and of course no one is going to be miss more than a game or two due to injury.
Hey, the Cleveland Indians made the playoffs last year by winning 24 more games than they won in 2012. It can happen again. After all, we have had three seasons of crummy baseball. The club has spent a lot of money. We are going to get what is coming to us.