Minnesota Twins: Grading, Reflecting on 2016 Predictions

Minnesota Twins

Jul 2, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; A general view at Target Field between the Minnesota Twins and the Texas Rangers. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

With the World Series over, I grade my 2016 Minnesota Twins preseason predictions.

What a fantastic World Series fans witnessed. Even this Minnesota Twins fan enjoyed every moment of it. A heavily watched and gut-wrenching Game 7 was a perfect capstone to a historic year.

So ends the 2016 season. While I’ve flushed out the Twins season long ago, I return to reflect on my preseason predictions.

There are 12 predictions and every one has a grade. Every prediction has reflecting thoughts along with a short brief on how I graded the particular prediction.

Without further ado, let’s dive in.

To read the full 2016 Twins preseason predictions, click here.

Jul 10, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA;Minnesota Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki (8) on deck in the sixth inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

1, Who will catch more games, Murphy or Suzuki?

D-

“My gut says Murphy. It will be pretty close but Suzuki is the starting catcher heading into the season. Murphy will have to out hit him to take over the job.”

John Ryan Murphy made 11 starts before the Twins demoted him to triple-A. Murphy spent the majority of the year in Rochester. He didn’t return until the Twins called him up in September.

Murphy was behind the plate for 24 games while Kurt Suzuki caught 96 games. Not at all close like I predicted.

The only reason I didn’t receive an “F” is due to the last sentence in the prediction. Murphy didn’t out-hit Suzuki and therefore didn’t take over the starting role. For this, I’m able to salvage my grade and walk away with a “D-“.

2, How many home runs will Sano hit? Park?

D-

Looking at ESPN, the projections say Sano will hit 38 home runs, and 26 for Park. I would be happily surprised if Sano hit over 35 home runs. As for Park, I am going to safely assume 20 to 25 home runs.

Here again, I avoid another potential “F” with one grade-saving line.

Miguel Sano didn’t come close to the ESPN projections as he hit 25 home runs. However, with the way he struggled all year long, 25 home runs isn’t terrible.

Byung Ho Park hit 12 home runs. Not quite in the range I predicted but not too far off.

Despite not reaching the projections, it’s worth noting both sluggers missed considerable amounts of time. Sano missed 46 games, mostly due to injuries. Park played in only 62 games before the Twins demoted him to triple-A.

For what it’s worth, both were on pace to hit more than 30 home runs.

3, When will Jose Berrios debut?

A

I ran a weekly reaction piece on Berrios in December talking about this issue. My thoughts then are confirmed by the Twins actions now. Berrios will be treated like the Chicago Cubs treated Kris Bryant. I expect Berrios on the active roster no later than May. Duffey (Milone?) and Nolasco are place holders at this point.

Even if the Twins didn’t give Jose Berrios the Kris Bryant treatment on purpose, Berrios did make his debut in late April. While Berrios didn’t stay on the active roster for long, he did debut before the month of May.

As far as predictions go, this one is a slam dunk.

4, Is Eddie Rosario legitimate?

B

Rosario may be “oblivious to failure” but that doesn’t he’s immune from it. I predict he will fall into a major slump at some point this year. I also predict that if he were to slump for about a month or longer, fans will dismiss him quickly. He is prone to Arcia-like growing pains.

I could have given myself another “A” for this prediction but instead gave myself a “B” because I’m not sure that fans necessarily dismissed him.

Regardless, Eddie Rosario did suffer through a horrific slump. From Opening Day to mid-May, Rosario slashed .200/.218/.313. Eventually, this led to his demotion to triple-A.

Rosario slashed a much improved .305/.335/.477 after being recalled in July.

Looking back, this prediction has me torn. On one hand, I’m proud of myself for finding a player who can and will decline from the previous year. Yet on the other hand, I don’t want the Twins or any of their players to fail.

Oct 1, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Minnesota Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco (11) celebrates with teammates in the dugout after his two run home run against the Chicago White Sox during the fourth at U.S. Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

5, Which player is the most likely to be traded this year?

F

Jorge Polanco. Great hitting middle infielder, but can’t field with any consistency. If Escobar or Dozier is hurt, Polanco almost certainly is the first call-up. Keep him around long enough to drop a line in the water and see who bites.

This is a boom or bust prediction. That said, my second choice was Kennys Vargas.

I picked Jorge Polanco, thinking the Twins would find a team desperate for an extra bench player or a team needing to replace an injured middle infielder.

The Twins did trade a middle infielder near the deadline. However, it was not Polanco. Instead it was Eduardo Nunez.

6, Who will be the Twins breakout player of 2016?

F+

Back in January I made picks for breakout hitter, breakout pitcher and bounce back player. For overall breakout player I’ll go with Kyle Gibson. It will be his fourth year as a Twins starter, and every year he has shown improvement. I predict he’ll be the Twins best starter by the numbers at the end of the season.

Instead of a “F”, I gave myself a much deserving “F+” for how horrific this prediction transpired.

Kyle Gibson pitched awful the entire year. By the numbers, he matched his season best with one complete game. Additionally, Gibson walked the fewest batters and allowed the fewest hits in a full season.

That’s it for the positives, if there were any. He posted his worst stats in a season with at least 20 starts.

Clearly, this prediction stinks. Time to move on.

7, Who is the biggest risk to be a bust?

A

Oddly enough, I am going to go against the grain and pick Byron Buxton. I did pick him to be the Twins breakout hitter of the 2016 campaign back in January. I still believe he can be the breakout hitter, however, everyone else feels the same way. The Rookie of the Year predictions surrounding him are expectations that he may not live up to. WARNING: Too high of hopes and expectations for Buxton’s performance may lead to disappointment.

Like the Rosario prediction, I’m a little proud of myself for predicting this.

Byron Buxton started out the season unable to hit. He slashed .156/.208/.289 and struck out 24 times.

However, he played exceptionally well after his September recall. Buxton upped his numbers across the board, slashing .287/.357/.653/ 9 HR / 22RBI after his return.

He didn’t come close to winning the AL Rookie of the Year as some predicted. He didn’t breakout either. However, he did disappoint fans who thought he was going to show off his true potential this year.

For that, I earned a “A”.

8, Will any Twins win awards at the end of the year?

F

I am almost inclined to say Byung Ho Park for Rookie of the Year. Instead I’ll put my money on Brian Dozier winning a Silver Slugger at second base.

Brian Dozier winning a Silver Slugger award turned out to be much closer of a reality than Park winning AL Rookie of the Year.

Jose Altuve recently won the American League Silver Slugger award. Yet, one could argue Dozier is deserving of the award.

Dozier led all American League second baseman in home runs and slugging percentage, and was third in RBI. He finished second in stolen bases, and tied for first in triples with Altuve.

Even though I failed this prediction, it wasn’t all that far-fetched for Dozier to win a Silver Slugger this season.

Minnesota Twins

The Minnesota Twins celebrate a walk-off win. Credit: Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

9, Do the Twins make the playoffs?

C

The optimistic fan in me says the Twins will make the playoffs. The realist in me says there is too much parity in the American League for the Twins to overcome. If the Twins make the playoffs it will almost certainly be as a Wild Card team. Depending on who they play and injuries to key players on both teams involved will determine whether the Twins get ousted in a one game playoff.

At least I was smart enough to realize the Twins aren’t a playoff contending team before the excruciating path to 103 losses began.

Even though I was optimistic about the Twins this year, I didn’t predict the team would win the division. I hinted at the fact that the Twins would have a hard time making the playoffs.

Clearly, the Twins had a bigger issue to deal with, winning any of its games.

10, How will the AL Central shake out this year?

F

The White Sox have no team leader or identity, Tigers are worse than experts predict, Indians have a great rotation which might not live up to all the hype, and the division still runs through the Royals. If Alex Gordon had signed elsewhere, the division would be wide open. Royals (89-73), Twins (85-77), Indians (82-80), Tigers (79-83), White Sox (76-86).

So much for saying the Twins would have a hard time making the playoffs.

I was too bold with my win total for the Twins. To match my previous prediction I should have predicted the Twins to win 82 or 81 games.

The Kansas City Royals failed to win the division again. The Cleveland Indians pitching staff proved to be better than anticipated. Even the Detroit Tigers surprised me towards the end of the season.

However, there is a silver lining. From second place to fourth place I was one win off of the actual final standings. Unfortunately, I had the wrong order of teams.

11, Who will win the World Series?

F

The New York Mets. If Matt Harvey remembers to use the bathroom instead of holding it in, then the Mets stand a good chance win the World Series. Rest of the rotation behind Harvey is solid. However, Cespedes needs to be the team’s offensive savior again.

I was correct at least about Yoenis Cespedes. He needed to be the New York Mets offensive savoir again, as the Mets slumped down the stretch.

At the end of the day, I was incorrect where it mattered most. The San Francisco Giants ousted the Mets from the playoffs in the Wild Card game.

12, What would make 2016 a successful season?

A

Proving the pundits wrong. Lot’s of experts say the Twins will finish dead last in the American League. All the Twins need to do, is prove last year wasn’t a fluke. The Twins need to win more than they lose. Playoffs aside, finishing with a winning record will be a successful season.

Looking back at the 103 loss season, here is a prediction everyone can agree on.

The Twins did finish dead last in the American League. Even worse, the Twins finished with the worst record in baseball.

Certainly it would be more pleasant in Twins Territory if the Twins finished with a winning record.

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