TWINS 2018 PREVIEW

Cameron Cottrill • Special to the Star Tribune

Taking the next giant step

The Twins, in 2017, became the first team in history to make the major league baseball playoffs a season after losing 100 games. The year was filled with surprise and nostalgia — fielding wizard Byron Buxton’s emergence as a hitter, Joe Mauer’s return to steady form, and the slugging of Miguel Sano, Brian Dozier, Eddie Rosario and Eduardo Escobar.   Read more

From left, Minnesota Twins players Addison Reed, Logan Morrison, Lance Lynn and Jake Odorizzi pose for a portrait together on Sunday morning, March 18
Zack Wittman • Special to the Star Tribune
March 24, 2018

The Twins are built to win now, but the future is unclear

The Twins used a club-record 28 different pitchers in relief last season. Only 11 remain in the organization just a few months later.

“That’s crazy,” Twins General Manager Thad Levine marveled during spring training. “Gives us something to shoot for, though.”  Read more

Miguel Sano
March 24, 2018

Souhan: Sano seeks route to success that others followed

It was a sunny day in Venezuela, but no baseball games were being played. The country was on a general strike, leaving the best young players in the land to do little more than take batting practice.  Read more

Joe Mauer Action from an MLB game between the Minnesota Twins and the Detroit Tigers Friday, Sept. 29, 2017 at Target Field in Minneapolis.
Anthony Souffle, Star Tribune
March 24, 2018

Reusse: Mauer has been all he was supposed to be

There is a cover from a Baseball America edition framed in the dining room at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. It is from June 2001 and a wide-eyed Joe Mauer takes up most of the page, wearing a crisp white uniform with “Raiders’’ in blue script across the front.

“HOMETOWN HERO’’ is the big headline, with the subhead “Twins Make Local Product No. 1.” The Raiders were Cretin-Derham Hall, of course, where Mauer was a three-sport star.  Read more

Byron Buxton robs Cleveland Indians designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion of a home run last season.
Jerry Holt, Tns - Tns
Minnesota Twins center fielder Byron Buxton robs Cleveland Indians des...
March 24, 2018

Center field shows how improved fielding became Twins goal

The Twins’ improvement on defense in 2017 was important to the win-loss record, important to the pitching staff, and important to the marketing department.

“Sliding catch,” Eddie Rosario said of the bobblehead with his likeness that the Twins will give away to fans in July. “Very nice.”  Read more

Eddie Rosario
Ron Schwane, Associated Press
March 24, 2018

Development of young hitters is key to Twins offense

James Rowson doesn’t want the Twins moving forward without looking back.

So the team’s hitting coach gathered players during spring training and showed them a highlight film from 2017. Good at-bats. Clutch hits. The video was made with Rick Ross’ “Hustlin’  ” thumping in the background as the Twins enjoyed memories of a robust offense during the second half of last season.  Read more

New Minnesota Twins relief pitcher Fernando Rodney (56)
March 24, 2018

Twins going with improved pitching, from start to close

They’ve had a short lefthander throwing sliders, and a tall righthander chucking fastballs. They’ve used Everyday and Aggie, and even a guy named Brandon who had never tried the job before.

Over the years, the Twins have utilized All-Star closers of all shapes and stripes. So why not an archer?  Read more

Nick Gordon
March 24, 2018

Call 9-1-1? Twins added depth in minors to better avoid emergencies

The Twins will feel much better about reaching down to the minor leagues for help this season.

With veteran upgrades to the major league pitching staff and the return of all key position players from a year ago, the Twins enter the season satisfied that their top minor leaguers aren’t being thrown into the fire.  Read more

Twins prospect Royce Lewis signed autographs for fans at Twins Fest.
Lavinsky, Aaron/TBA/TBA/TBA, Star Tribune
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March 24, 2018

La Velle E. Neal III's top Twins minor league prospects

La Velle E. Neal III’s top Twins prospects

Baseball's Analytics Age still can't solve two big mysteries
File photo
March 21, 2018

Baseball's Analytics Age still can't solve two big mysteries

There isn’t much décor in Thad Levine’s office at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla.

His L-shaped desk is mostly empty save for his computer and a 3-foot bookshelf that’s bare except for a handful of books.  Read more

American League power rankings by La Velle E. Neal III
File art and staff illustration
March 24, 2018

American League power rankings by La Velle E. Neal III

March 25, 2018

National League power rankings by La Velle E. Neal III

The Cleveland Indians mob teammate Yan Gomes, who drove in the winning run in the 13th inning against the New York Yankees during Game 2 of the Americ
March 24, 2018

Division preview: Cleveland is current king of the AL Central

The bullpen has been buttressed. The starting rotation has been deepened. And the lineup has been lengthened.

After an offseason in which the front office saved its best for last — adding starters Jake Odorizzi and Lance Lynn and slugger Logan Morrison since camp opened in mid-February — the Twins enter the regular season as well prepared as they have since manager Paul Molitor took over in 2015.  Read more

From left, Minnesota Twins players Addison Reed, Logan Morrison, Lance Lynn and Jake Odorizzi pose for a portrait together on Sunday morning, March 18
March 24, 2018

Twins trying to step into the stratosphere

After making the American League playoffs with 85 victories, the Twins will try to challenge for a division title, and that means winning even more games.

Brian Dozier
, Star Tribune
Twins Brian Dozier after hitting a home run in Tuesday's American Leag...
March 24, 2018

Twins position players, by the numbers

Twins pitcher Jose Berrios (shown pitching against the Red Sox last month) threw five innings in a 3-1 victory over the Pirates on Wednesday. He likel
Mark Vancleave, Star Tribune
March 24, 2018

Twins pitching should be improved

The Twins had very few issues offensively in 2017, but their pitching numbers indicate plenty of room for improvement.

The St. Louis Cardinals and Minnesota Twins play during an exhibition spring training baseball game at Roger Dean Stadium Thursday, March 1, 2018, in
Jeff Roberson, Associated Press
March 24, 2018

Star Tribune staffers predict the Twins season

Final, 4/21 R H E
Minnesota 12-7 4 9 1
Baltimore 8-15 3 9 1