For Ron Gardenhire and the Minnesota Twins, winning the AL Central six of the nine years Gardenhire has been manager doesn’t mean a whole lot without a single World Series victory under their belts.
But for fantasy baseball fans, the Minnesota Twins offer more selection than most teams in the league. Whether you’re looking for a quality second- or third-round pick, or undeniable value in the back end of your draft, the Twins are sort of a one-stop fantasy baseball shopping mall.
Kinda like our FREE Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit
Keep in mind that the Twins did undergo some changes this year with second baseman Orlando Hudson now playing in the black hole out in San Diego, and shortstop J.J Hardy now playing with the Baltimore Orioles.
Let’s see what the Twins bring to the table, and how you could benefit from what they have to offer.
Impact Players (Hitters)
1. Joe Mauer, C: Mauer remains a Top-10 fantasy baseball catcher in nearly every league format, but there are better options at catcher below Mauer in your draft. Everyone remembers the Joe Mauer from 2009 who hit 28 HR and 96 RBI, but his career totals (16 HR, 91 RBI, 7 SB over a seven-year average) is about what you should expect from him in any given season, making him on par with just about everyone at catcher.
For what you have to give up to grab him, you can certainly do just as good while saving the early selection for someone more beneficial.
2. Delmon Young, OF: Young is a great option for everyone looking to score a consistently hitting OF3 who is usually good for 20 HR and 100 RBI. In addition to that, Young will not hurt you in average being a career .292 hitter.
With all of this said, Young has tremendous value especially for a guy who is currently listed at 113.52 ADP (MockDraftCentral.com) and makes a fine selection in your fantasy baseball draft, in the mid-to-late rounds.
3. Denard Span, OF: Took care of power in the outfield? Wanna draft a late range outfielder with a ton of SB upside, perhaps for your bench? Well, look no further than Denard Span. Span will not provide a ton of power, but he will steal bags better than the Hamburgler steals...well you know.
But the real value with Span is the fact that he is one of the most versatile players in the game, with 629 AB last season alone. Span is also a nice source for runs, but be aware his BA did plummet from .311 in 2009, to .264 last year. You could do far worse in the tail end of your fantasy baseball draft.
The Pitching Staff
The following is a preliminary look at the projected lineup and what you could expect.
1. Francisco Liriano: Liriano is a bit over-valued, and I am noticing him going way too early (48.51 ADP) for a guy who has a history of arm trouble, and a bit of uncertainty surrounding him. Liriano went 14-10 with a 3.62 ERA and 201 K. Expect about the same record, a bump in ERA thanks to balls in play, and a drop off in strikes (195 for 2011).
2. Carl Pavano: It’s unofficially official: Pavano will be the Opening Day starter for the Twins! Pavano had a banner year in 2010, lowering his ERA from 2009 by 1.35 runs, and lowered his WHIP from 1.37 to 1.19.
But when it comes to strikeouts, Pavano is not the guy you want. Still, for a guy who is hovering at around 183 ADP, and can grab you 14 to 17 wins in any given season, he makes for a fine late end selection.
3. Scott Baker: Here’s another interesting pitcher you should find towards the end of your draft. Baker is a 10+ winner over the past three seasons for the Twins (11 in 2008, 15 in 2009, 12 in 2010) so there is a high level of consistency here.
He has an inflated career ERA (4.32) mainly because he is hittable (9.4 career H/9). but if you can deal with the hits, he’ll reward you with those 10+ wins, and a nice complimentary 7.1 K/9 rate. Not bad for a late round flyer.
4. Kevin Slowey: Slowey is said to be competing with Brian Duensing and Nick Blackburn for the two final roster spots, but I am pretty damn sure Slowey will be the number four stater in this lineup.
He is a very hittable pitcher like the rest of the Minnesota lot, but he can also reward you with around 13 wins and a ton of strikes. When healthy, he is also the deepest pitcher on the staff.
5. Brian Duensing: I mentioned that Nick Blackburn is in the mix for the final spot, but I wanted to mention Duensing, since he does have the inside track—mainly due to the fact that Duensing has exceeded expectations for two solid years.
Last year, Duensing went 10-3 with a 2.62 ERA and a 78:35 K to BB ratio as both a RP and a SP. He is a dual qualifier again in 2011, and because of his numbers and reliability you can safely grab him in the later rounds. He is extra intriguing in AL only formats.
Potential Sleeper: Danny Valencia, 3B
Twins fans are champing at the bit to see what Valencia will bring to the table, after not having a solid third baseman in nearly seven years. Seems to be a growing trend in the majors, doesn’t it?
In just 85 games last year, Danny Valencia hit .311, 7 HR, 18 2B and 40 RBI. So if we pro-rate those numbers to a full season—which Valencia will have—he looks like a nice middle of the pack guy with a ton of upside.
Valencia is a very reliable hitter (.298 AVG and .822 OPS in five seasons in the minors) and can also add a bit of power making him an interesting candidate for sleeper out of Minnesota.
The only issue I have is the fact that he will probably bat eighth in the lineup which could hurt him a little bit, but you can still expect these projections: .311 AVG, 12 HR, 68 RBI, 158 H, 51 R, 31 2B, 2 3B
What You Should Know
The Twins are built for both speed and power, so when looking at this team, it’s really a drafter’s choice here. There are plenty of guys found in the back end of your draft. But just because they are found in the back end, doesn’t de-value them or what the Twins have to offer fantasy baseball managers.
Remember Fantasy Baseball 101 rules.
Keep in mind a couple more things when looking at the Twins:
- Jim Thome is a guy who can guarantee your team at least 20 home runs as a late-round flyer DH.
- Don’t run out and simply use an early pick to grab Justin Morneau off the board, if your league is drafting early like mine did. We don’t even know if he’ll be ready by Opening Day right now. No sense in pulling the trigger too early, and potentially regretting it in the end.
- Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel are great mid-to-late grabs in all formats, who are both good for 20 HR and 90 RBI each and every year.
- Alexi Casilla is the new kid on the block, but he has been an underachiever for years. Still, he’ll offer you some SB and makes an OK pick later on in AL only formats.
- Overseas sensation Tsuyoshi Nishioka will more than likely play second this spring, but remember that imports have traditionally been up and down in fantasy, especially in their first year.
- At some point you are going to want to put SP Kyle Gibson on your watch list, as his much anticipated debut will happen later this year. Gibson is worth drafting in keeper leagues for sure, and perhaps even a last minute grab in deeper mixed leagues.
- Remember, the Twins also have some nice value at RP in Matt Capps and Joe Nathan.