The 2016 Minnesota Twins: The Team You’ve Already Forgotten, Apparently

“The Twins will finish at exactly .500, and you will forget that they exist 16 times during the season.”

Jesse Spector of Sporting News meant this as an “over-the-top proclamation to regret later.” Trouble is, the proclamation’s a little too on-the-nose.

This team finished second in the AL Central last year with 83 wins.

But everyone’s already forgetting.

USA Today projects the Twins will win 80 games, good for last in the Central. FanGraphs puts them in the American League basement with 78 wins. Vegas says the team needs luck to win more than 77.

The division is stacked this year, which no doubt accounts for the projected regression. But consider three players the team spent at least half of 2015 without: (1) Ervin Santana — indisputably no longer in his prime, but this team’s Opening Day Starter nonetheless who ought to relieve the bullpen of at least 15-20 more innings over the course of this year; (2) Miguel Sano, who still managed 18 homers in his half-season and posted an OPS of .916 for a team that desperately needs on-base guys; (3) John Ryan Murphy, an actual backup for (or outright alternative to) catcher Kurt Suzuki — and, fingers-crossed, another net positive for the team’s dismal 2015 on-base figures.

Add all that up — full seasons from these three, and even a middling MLB debut from Byung-Ho Park — and the idea of a 77-win season is simply absurd. That doesn’t mean the Twins are good bets to win the division, or even the second Wild Card spot. But it would mean the likely Central champions — the Royals or Indians, probably — will have some rough road trips to Target Field. The Twins are part of the stacking in the AL Central, not the team that gets crushed underneath the mess.

Look, Jesse Spector of Sporting News is not wrong. The Twins’ rotation is easily the worst in the division, a fact accentuated by the likelihood that Ricky Nolasco will suck this year. When his sucking costs the Twins a win too many, manager Paul Molitor will have to call on José Berrios or Tyler Duffey and hope they’re positioned stop the bleeding. Santana and Phil Hughes are question marks. Joe Mauer is still a net asset for this team, but Spector’s right to muse about the beginning of a “painful” divorce with the hometown boy. Organizationally, the franchise is torpid; too slow to embrace the Moneyball roster-building that defines this era of baseball. The Twins do “teeter awkwardly between past and future, good and bad.”

It’s just that word: “forget.” This franchise was one of baseball’s best in the 2000s and entered the 2010s with practically nothing to show for it — nothing, other than an ALCS berth against a West Coast team and a handful of ALDS run-ins with an East Coast juggernaut. It’s so easy to forget because, even at its most recent best, the team never insisted upon being remembered. For the Twins sympathizers, the F-word touches a sore.

But more than anything, as a fan, I’m tired of forgetting. The routine of popping a Forget-Me-Now after a disastrous campaign like 2011, or like 2012, or like 2013, or like 2014 is getting a little tiresome. 2015 was a breath of fresh air, but we remember the freshness more than the team’s overall performance — with the lone exception probably being this:
DozierWalkoff1

 

Here’s to a season worth not forgetting completely. Too much to hope for, you say? Eh, whatever. It’s spring of Next Year, the spring we forgetful fans were waiting all winter for.

Knock out a home run, shout a hip-hooray…

WinTwinsSignFULL

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