With MLB odds released for the AL Central, there has already been considerable movement around the Minnesota Twins. Initially a relative long shot at around +300, the Twins odds received some action that brought their consensus number closer to +200. That has since corrected back the other way a bit, with Minnesota behind both the Guardians and White Sox depending on your online sportsbook of choice.
Each of the past two years, I’ve entered the season bullish on the Twins. Each of those years, they’ve left me frustrated, disappointed and a little lighter in the wallet. Yet, I’m going back for even more punishment. Read on to find out why.
Minnesota Twins MLB Futures Odds
Rocco Baldelli’s club had an interesting offseason. It looked like star shortstop Carlos Correa, who initially opted out of his contract with Minnesota, was lost first to the Giants and then the Mets. However, due to issues with his physicals, both deals fell through. Amazingly, Correa wound up signing right back in the Twin Cities.
Granted, failing his physicals represents a red flag. But, at least in terms of performance, his 2022 was very much the opposite. Correa hit for a 140 wRC+ — fully supported by his peripherals and played average defense at a premium position. Discarding the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, that was his third straight campaign with at least 133 wRC+. While we may see the effects of his leg injury at some point down the line, there’s no immediate indication he’s going to be anything but a star.
With the (re)addition of Correa, the Twins basically brought the band back together offensively. That’s a very good thing when that lineup produced the sixth-best xWOBA (per Statcast). Every single one of the teams that finished ahead of them had legitimate World Series aspirations. In fact, Houston beat them by a hair and wound up cashing in for Astros futures ticket holders.
The defense was average or weak depending on your metric of choice, but the main issues the Twins encountered came from their pitching.
Twins Reinforce Arms
Of course, I knew going in that Minnesota possessed a very thin and iffy pitching staff in 2022. I don’t really see that being the case to quite the same degree for 2023.
There’s much more certainty at the top of the staff this time around, thanks to the trade for ex-Marlins starter Pablo Lopez. Obviously, dealing Luis Arraez hurts a little, but sending out a useful piece — from a position of strength — to address a major weakness looks like a net win. Yes, Lopez struggled down the stretch, but he has a very good track record and the projections still believe in him.
Both Joe Ryan and Sonny Gray are viable, above-average arms. The same goes for Tyler Mahle, another late-season trade pickup who showcased a sound track record in Cincinnati. He delivered a 4.40 ERA last year, but his estimators have nearly all started with a 3 for three consecutive seasons.
At the back end, who knows what they will get from Kenta Maeda or Chris Paddack. But those are good names for a No. 5 arm, and there’s reasonable depth to replace them or other injured pitchers if needed. Bailey Ober isn’t even projected into the rotation currently, and he’s manufactured a 3.87 SIERA in 148.1 career innings.
Last year’s bullpen was garbage, to say it bluntly, on paper. In 2023, boasting (yet another trade pickup) Jorge Lopez and budding star in Jhoan Duran as the top arms makes things look much more appetizing.
Overall, it’s a collection of mid-rotation guys, but this doesn’t appear the glaring weakness it was last season.
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Guardians, White Sox Have Questions
Last year, Cleveland shocked everyone by basically running away with the division. This year, it enters as the favorite. I can’t say I’m terribly surprised, yet there are still some big questions here.
For one, Terry Francona’s lineup was pretty weak (16th-ranked wRC+), and the notoriously cheap franchise didn’t make any major upgrades — aside from maybe first baseman Josh Bell. Andres Gimenez gave them a stunning 6.1 fWAR season, evolving into the bat of a borderline superstar. With a wOBA almost 40 points better than his Statcast numbers, he likely won’t come anywhere near repeating that.
The bench looks terrible and only the top two starters (Shane Bieber and Triston McKenzie) have any degree of certainty attached to them. Obviously, the bullpen looks great, but that only moves the needle so far.
What the Guardians do have is a very strong crop of prospects, much finer potential reinforcements than the Twins or White Sox. Thankfully, I can rest easy they likely won’t deal them for current stars because of how the franchise operates. My sincerest apologies to Guardians GM Mark Chernoff.
Speaking of a penny-pinching franchise, the White Sox have utterly failed to build on what looked like the start of a strong run of contention. The back half of the roster is absolute shambles. They have poor depth everywhere, from lineup to the rotation to the minor leagues. Maybe no team in baseball is more vulnerable injuries. I can at least understand Cleveland being ahead of them in the markets, but I can’t get behind Chicago at all.
My Bet: Twins To Win AL Central (+290)
Publicly available projection systems agree with me that the market has underrated the Twins. Baseball Prospectus has them neck-and-neck with Cleveland while FanGraphs has them one game behind. Both computers, like me, are very low on the White Sox, expecting them to finish south of .500.
Last Friday, I got down on the Twins at +290 at Caesars Sportsbook. Unfortunately, steam has corrected that number and pushed it down to +240 at the time of writing.
Luckily, another good number has since popped up at BetRivers. At +285, these are now the best Twins odds in the market, and you can use the link above if you want to (begrudgingly) come along for the ride.
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