2017 Fantasy Baseball Recap: Minnesota Twins
Nobody from the Minnesota Twins’ organization will be sending anyone from the New York Yankees organization any holiday cards anytime soon.
The Yankees eliminated the small-market Twins from four AL Division Series from 2003 to 2010, crushing the World Series aspirations of Minnesota’s self-developed core. Last week, they continued that streak of torment, defeating the Twins by an 8-4 margin in the American League Wild Card game, bouncing Minnesota from the playoffs with a one-and-done.
Minnesota starter Ervin Santana blew a three-run lead in a wild first inning, and the Yankees piled on from there. Of course, we should have seen it coming. The new Yankee Stadium has been most unkind to Santana, as it has with all right-handed starting pitchers with a tendency to generate fly balls. Santana, specifically, was 0-5 with a 6.43 ERA playing there. It was the one blemish on an otherwise promising year, in which he tied his career high in wins (16) and finished with the second-lowest ERA in the MLB (3.28). He was a workhorse for the Twins all year, pitching over 211 innings (second most in the AL), including an AL-high five complete games.
Twins pitcher Jose Berrios is one of the new class of in Puerto Rican baseball players in the MLB. He finished second on the Twins with 14 wins this year, with an ERA (3.28) that was just a tick over that of Santana’s. The word “potential” has saddled Berrios for years now. But after taking his lumps in 2016, the scrawny right-hander is slowly harnessing his Twitter-famous arsenal and evolving into the ace the Twins need. His mentality and maturity on the mound remain the biggest question marks, but he is loaded with pitching talent that he just needs to harness.
Joe Mauer, “Mr. Minnesota Twins” himself, had a heck of a bounce back year in 2017. After averaging only 2.0 bWAR per year from 2014-2016, Mauer is already at 3.0 bWAR for 2017. He is hitting .304/.384/.414, which is far from vintage Mauer, but is a solidly above-average line nevertheless. The power is still absent, unfortunately, as he only has 6 HR and .110 ISO. Still, that is not bad value for a Twins team that finished with the second Wild Card slot.
30-year old Brian Dozier led the 2017 Twins with 34 home runs and 93 home runs, making him one of the most respected leaders in the clubhouse, alongside Mauer. His 106 runs this year was good for fifth-most in the American League, and he ranked in the top 10 in home runs and walks at the plate (78).
Centerfielder Byron Buxton played incredible defense throughout the season, but he also finished June batting .195/.269/.283 with four homers despite playing in 74 games. From July onward, however, Buxton hit and hit some more, batting .309/.358/.538 with 12 homers and 25 extra-base hits over his final 66 games. Combine hitting like that with his glove, and Buxton was the most important player for the Twins down the stretch.