StaTuesday: 2021 AL Central standings predictions for Twins

Believe it or not, it’s baseball season.

Minnesota Twins pitchers and catchers report Friday, Feb. 18 with the full roster due Feb. 23. The regular season – yes, a full 162 games (as of now) – begins April 1 when Minnesota plays at Milwaukee.

While there are still some players out on the free-agent market and we have to go through spring training and roster decisions, that doesn’t mean we can’t look forward to the season.

Minnesota has made a few roster moves this offseason, most notably adding shortstop Andrelton Simmons and moving Jorge Polanco to second base as well strengthening the pitching staff with starter J.A. Happ and closer Alex Colome.

More Twins Coverage

With all that in mind, three publications have already put out their projected win totals for 2021. How do they think the Twins, who finished 36-24 in the truncated 2020 season, will fare? Let’s take a look.

BASEBALL PROSPECTUS

Using its PECOTA system, BP has Minnesota repeating as American League Central champions, just barely reaching 90 wins. The actual prediction is a .557 winning percentage, or 90.3-71.7 record.

According to PECOTA, that should be more than enough to win the division as the site gives the Twins a 62.6% chance of taking the AL Central crown.

Interestingly, it is Cleveland – which traded superstar Francisco Lindor this offseason – BP has finishing second (.523 winning percentage). Chicago is third at .509 while Kansas City (.442) and Detroit (.407, tied for the worst percentage in the American League) bring up the rear.

Minnesota is one of six teams BP projects to win 90+ games, joining (in order): LA Dodgers, NY Yankees, San Diego, NY Mets and Houston. For what it’s worth, the site projects Pittsburgh and Colorado to lose over 100 games.

 

FANGRAPHS

The site’s ZIPS projections are slightly less bullish on the Twins, projecting an 88-74 record (.544), but that would still be good enough to win the AL Central. Barely.

Fangraphs likes the White Sox more than Baseball Prospectus, predicting Chicago will finish 87-75 (.538). Sounds like it could be a fun – and nerve wracking – September if Fangraphs is correct.

Cleveland is third in the ZIPS projections at 81-81. The site also thinks more of Kansas City (78-84) and Detroit (73-89)

Fangraphs is a little more conservative in its projections with only four teams with 90+ wins (Dodgers, Yankees, Padres and Mets). Minnesota is given the eighth most victories, with Atlanta, Toronto and Houston also ahead of the Twins.

The site also projects no 100-game losers and just three with fewer than 70 wins (Colorado, Baltimore, Pittsburgh).

USA TODAY

Minnesota’s projected AL Central championship run comes to end with USA Today, which used a six-person panel to determine its standings.

The Twins are predicted to finish with an 87-75 record, just behind Chicago (89-73).

Perhaps that win projection for Minnesota should come with an asterisk. In its AL Central capsule roundup, the panel notes “Minnesota can never be counted out, and may yet run away from the division if Byron Buxton and Josh Donaldson avoid significant injury.”

It looks like a two-team horse race for the division, at least according to these predictions, as Cleveland is projected to be around .500 at 82-80 while Kansas City (72-90) and Detroit (61-101) are in for long seasons.

What’s left to say, other than “Play Ball!”