Minnesota Twins 2019 Season Preview: Fantasy Analysis

2018 Record: 78-84

Projected 2019 Record: 82-80

2018 Recap & 2019 Team Outlook

After failing to sign the right free agents last season, Minnesota has made tremendous moves. They struggled in a bad AL Central, and with Cleveland starting to drop off, they have time to make a run. Retooling their roster was much needed, and they did just that. The Twins added C.J. Cron and Nelson Cruz, who are both big power bats. Both will jump right into the starting lineup with heavy home run expectations. Minnesota didn’t stop there, adding Jonathan Schoop and Marwin Gonzalez. Both project to be a heavy part of the offense, and are strong fantasy values. This team is a real threat to make a run at the AL Central, especially if they can get some help out of the back half of their rotation.

2019 Storylines

We have to put Byron Buxton as a storyline every year? He suffered a major injury last season and missed most of the year. This was after having a very strong second half the year prior, leading many of us into thinking this is his time. Buxton is still just 25, and if he can perform like he did during that second half, Minnesota is going to push some teams. The concern is that their rotation will limit their upside, and that is a fair concern. Jose Berrios is a strong ace, and Kyle Gibson upped his strikeout stuff but the ERA was subpar. They added Michael Pineda, who is returning from missing last season. If the pieces can hit, they will have a chance to make a run.

Twins Starting Pitching

A lot of Minnesota’s success is going to depend on their pitching, that is unless their offense just crushes enough to where it doesn’t matter. Jose Berrios is the ace of the staff, and is growing each year. He was a bit inconsistent, but still had a 3.84 ERA and 202 strikeouts. Kyle Gibson wasn’t far behind with a 3.62 ERA and 179 strikeouts. Both Gibson and Berrios are the more attractive pitching options right now. Looking ahead at their potential 2019, there is room for upside, but their 2018 numbers seem to be about what we will get.

Jake Odorizzi and Martin Perez are where things start to get gross. Odorizzi had a 4.49 ERA last season, and is always a name that struggles with the long ball. Perez is a weak lefty who used to rely on groundballs, but those days are dead. The Twins will desperately need Michael Pineda to bounce back from a lengthy injury, and be the guy he was in New York. Pineda has always been a boom or bust arm, but he is in a better ballpark and division compared to New York.

Twins Bullpen

Minnesota is looking to join the movement of using multiple names to close out games. Blake Parker, Trevor May, and Trevor Hildenberger are all names to keep an eye on. Parker seems to be the favorite right now, although May has developed into a decent reliever. Minnesota has a lot of names that can get you to swing and miss, but closing it out was a different story. The Twins were bottom ten in ERA as a bullpen last season, allowing 1.31 HR/9. These home run numbers were some of the highest in baseball. Minnesota will need some magic trying to hold teams after their starter leaves.

Twins Hitters

All those additions are going to make this a favorable offense in 2019. Nelson Cruz projects for over 30 home runs, and a .275 average. Cruz continues to bring strong numbers to the plate, even at his age. It is nice to see projections be favorable of his average. Both Byron Buxton and Eddie Rosario are attractive outfield options this season. Rosario has developed into a consistent left-handed bat, while Buxton will look to rebound from an injury-plagued 2018.

The Twins went out and added some infield options. Jonathan Schoop got a nice deal to settle down with a team, and has above average power for a second baseman. His infield partner, Jorge Polanco is a better contact bat, but also projects as a strong value shortstop in fantasy drafts. Polanco came back from suspension and looked just about the same. Marwin Gonzalez will see over 400 at-bats, but won’t be a full-time guy. He is the super utility man once again. C.J. Cron is the interesting name here. Finally landing in a stable spot, he is a strong right-handed bat that adds to the Twins lineup.

Twins Projected Lineup

  1. Jorge Polanco
  2. C.J. Cron
  3. Eddie Rosario
  4. Nelson Cruz
  5. Jonathan Schoop
  6. Marwin Gonzalez
  7. Max Kepler
  8. Jason Castro
  9. Byron Buxton

2019 Noteworthy Fantasy Pitchers

Jose Berrios – Jose Berrios is coming off a strong overall season, but his consistency was off a bit. There have been talks about using his two-seamer more, which would help him out. He is growing each and every year, and is in that next tier of aces for fantasy purposes. He doesn’t walk many batters, and has above average strikeout stuff. He also pushed over 190 innings last season, which is a major plus. Berrios is that arm to take when you went bats with your first few picks. He should have double-digit wins, a sub-four ERA, and 200+ strikeouts.

Kyle Gibson – There were bigger changes to Kyle Gibson from 2017 to 2018. He upped his strikeout rate by 4%, but his walk rate was nearing double-digits. He has been a groundball arm too, sitting around 50% in the last two seasons. A change in pitch mix would help if he can throw more off-speed stuff. There is some strikeout upside here for a late round draft target. He also might just overall be a first half pitcher when the weather is cold, and struggle later on.

2019 Noteworthy Fantasy Hitters

Nelson Cruz – Nelson Cruz is coming over from a lengthy stint with Seattle. Minnesota needed a monster power bat, and Cruz can bring it. Sure he is 38 years old, but he is one of the best power bats still in the game. He had just a 20% strikeout rate last season, and has topped 35 HR in every season since 2014. There are no major signs of him dropping off a cliff due to his age. You need a power bat, get yourself some Cruz.

Eddie Rosario – Eddie Rosario can bring you a little bit of everything, and is a strong middle tier outfielder. He has hit 24 and 27 home runs over the last two seasons, and can add about 8-10 SB. He isn’t a guy who walks and will chase, but his average seems to be above .280 most seasons. In the middle of this offense, I find him to be slightly underrated.

  
Jason Guilbault has been writing and podcasting in the fantasy sports world for over five years. You can find his work at Daily Fantasy Cafe. He is an avid Tottenham fan, and follows the Boston sports teams. When he isn’t diving into stats, he is enjoying the outdoors or down at the local brewery.

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