Why the Minnesota Twins Will Win the AL Central Outright

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Why the Minnesota Twins Will Win the AL Central Outright

The Meat of the Article

Even after an astonishing finish to the 2009 season, owning the best player in baseball as well as a young but talented pitching core, and making some key offseason acquisitions, the Twins still seem to slip under the radar. I'm here to dispel any myths of failure for the 2010 season. Mark my words: The Twins will win the AL Central. 

The spot that the Twins are lacking most in may or may not be the starting rotation. This depends on who's article you happen to be reading. The truth is, we'll never know until the season is over. But based on this year's spring training as well as last season, I think it's tough to make a point against these young starters.

Scott Baker had a phenomenal end to his 2009 campaign, ending up with a 15-9 record and a 4.37 ERA after a very rough start. Expect Baker, as well as Slowey and Blackburn, to solidify this young rotation. If Baker shows us that he is the ace we all think he is and Liriano and Pavano can stay healthy and consistent, pitching may be a key strong point. 

There is one strength that the Twins have that cannot be ignored, and that is the offense. The Twins have as much power and pop in the lineup as any team in the bigs, if not more. With a whole mess of left-handed power bats, (Mauer, Morneau, Kubel, Thome) the Twins will destroy right-handed pitching all year.

The Twins also have gems in Delmon Young and J.J. Hardy, both of whom are looking to turn it on in 2010. Judging by their spring training numbers, they definitely will. A change of scenery will be great for Hardy, and Young can blossom without the death of his mother on his mind. 

The Twins have a very talented young core of players that should continue to produce for a long time. Short-term acquisitions like Thome and Hudson shored up the second base qualm and gave the Twins something they always seem to lack: a bench. 

But let's be fair. It's not all fine and dandy in Minnesota. The No. 1 issue is obviously the absence of all-star closer Joe Nathan. The Twins have chosen the closer by committee approach to fill the void. How this will work out, no one can say.

What we can say is that the Twins have a phenomenal bullpen, featuring lights-out relievers like Matt Guerrier, Pat Neshek, and Jose Mijares. And with such an offensive team, will the Twins even really need a closer?

Another issue is the third base situation. The Twins filled every other need during the offseason, but haven't said much about the hot-corner. Brendan Harris signed a two-year, $3+ million deal in the offseason. It seems he and super-utility man Nick Punto will fill the void at third base for the time being. 

Even after weighing in the negatives, there is just too much positive for the Twinkies. I can't see any way that the Twins do not win the AL Central in 2010. It just doesn't seem probable. Simply put, they have too much offense. One would think a team ERA of around five would be enough to keep them in just about every game. 

So where's the argument? Sure, the Sox have a great starting rotation, but their offense sucks at best. I can't really see the Tigers competing, let alone the semi-pro Cleveland Indians. The Royals still have Zack Greinke, but they are still the Royals.

Any way you slice it, the Twins are the favorite in the AL Central in 2010. And that's that. So folks, after I am correct again, I expect a few more of you to turn your heads to Minnesota. You can continue to under-appreciate the Minnesota sports market, but that doesn't change the fact that the Twins are one of the elite teams in baseball. 

 

Standings, Awards, and Crazy Predictions

AL Central

1. Minnesota Twins (94-68)

2. Chicago White Sox (82-80)

3. Detroit Tigers (77-85)

4. Kansas City Royals (75-87)

5. Cleveland Indians (63-99)

 

AL MVP - Justin Morneau

AL Cy Young - Josh Beckett

AL Batting Title - Joe Mauer

AL Comback Player of the Year - J.J. Hardy

 

Crazy Predictions - J.J. Hardy will have the best year of his career. Delmon Young will do the same. Every Twins starter will win more games this year than they did in 2009. The Twins will win the World Series.

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