Great Lakes of Hitting: 2014 Minnesota Twins
We are just one week into this young season, but I think it’s safe to say the Minnesota Twins have mightily improved their offense. And let’s not start giving all the credit to that household name Joe Mauer just yet. Even after trading Justin Morneau last year, they have 4 other hitters who can really carry the team this season. The first one is (2B) Brian Dozier, a former 8th round pick by the Twins in 2009 out of Southern Miss. Now that Ben Revere and Denard Span have come and gone, Dozier has taken over the leadoff spot for the Twins with 20HR/20SB potential. He actually had a decent season in 2013, putting up (72 Runs 33 Doubles 18HR 66RBI 14SB). April 4-6 he went 4-for-11 (5 Runs, 2B, HR, 3BB, 2SB). I expect him to get on base and help the Twins generate some suprising numbers this season. The Twins scored the 3rd lowest runs in the AL last season (614). They obviously will improve in that department in 2014.
The second hitter that will help the Twins is (3B) Trevor Plouffe. Plouffe was the 20th overall pick in 2004 by the Minnesota Twins. Apparently the Twins have been waiting a long time for Plouffe to develop into something. He has shown he can hit for power, with 48HR’s in just 336 career games. The only with Plouffe have been his low average, strikeouts and health concerns. He was able to hit (.254) last year which raised his career average to (.243). And with him starting out 9-for-23 (.391) I don’t have any reason to think he can’t at least improve on that (.254) mark. He’s also hit safely in the first 6 games of the season, posting a nice (5:5) BB:K ratio. The Twins have him hitting in either the 3rd spot or cleanup, a perfect place to develop some nice power numbers.
The most suprising hitter of this bunch has to be (1B,OF) Chris Colabello. Like Plouffe, he is also on a 6-game hitting streak. He’s already had a 6RBI and 4RBI game. Undrafted, the 30 year-old Colabello stands at 6″4 220lbs and graduated from Assumption. A small college with just over 2,000 students located in Massachusetts. He’s hit in the clean-up spot for the past 4 games and has taken advantage. Colabello has started the season 9-for-23 (.391) Avg. with (4 2B’s, HR, 11RBI). Chris was solid in Triple-A in 2013 (.352/.427/.639 with 24 homers in 89 games) suggests the production might not be a flash in the pan.
The fourth and final batter is (OF) Jason Kubel. The Twins purchased his Triple-A Rochester contract for his second stint with the team. Even though he didn’t have a great spring, he’s had a nice start to the season. He’s 7-for-17 (.412) Avg. (3 2B’s, 4RBI). The 31-year old hit 124 HR’s (2007-2012) so we know he’s not to far removed from gaining his power back. This is baseball, not the NFL, players can still have great numbers in their 30’s. That’s not a knock on football guys, plenty have good seasons at 30+. I’m just saying don’t always assume a guy who has fallen off has his best years behind him. Kubel is comfortable in Minnesota and I think he has a solid 2014.
Even though the Twins look to improve on last years offense, the pitching staff is just plain awful. Ricky Nolasco was considered to be the ace come Opening Day. He’s already had 2 starts with 10IP and giving up 10 runs. They are dead last so far with a team ERA of 6.20. The Twins just won’t be able to outscore their opponents on some nights. They’ve only recieved 1 quality start from a pitcher so far. Which was Kevin Correia, who I think will end up being the only decent pitcher they have this season. Minnesota will be lucky to be a .500 ball club but with the offense playing this well, that is always a possiblity. I had Cleveland as my dark horse team in the AL Central last season, that actually panned out really well. I don’t think Minnesota can be the Indians of last year, but hopefully they can acquire some pitching to be a competitive team in the future.