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2018 MLB Preview: Minnesota Twins

A look at the Minnesota Twins with fantasy baseball in mind.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Basic Stats:

Final Record: 85-77
Runs: 7th
Home Runs: 16th
Stolen Bases: 9th
ERA: 19th
Saves: 12th
Strikeouts: 29th

We kick off the playoff teams with the first team eliminated in the 2017 Postseason, the Twins. A great story for Minnesota in 2017 as they go from the worst team in 2016, to a playoff team trending in the right direction. A balanced offensive unit backs a below average pitching staff with one of the worst strikeout totals in baseball last season. Will this change in 2018?

Let’s take a look towards 2018.

The Superstar: Brian Dozier

The Twins best player in 2017 was the same guy who was their best player in 2016. Dozier has been pretty consistent in terms of production over the past several seasons. Since 2013, Dozier averages 29 HR 16 SB 81 RBI 99 R and a .252 batting average. He’s had at least 101 runs every season since 2014. Expect similar numbers in 2018 which makes Dozier a safe bet as a top 40 player in fantasy baseball.

The Sleeper: Ervin Santana

Santana is an interesting player heading into 2018. The now 35-year-old SP is coming off perhaps his best season in his 13 year career where he finished as the #12 SP in fantasy. Why is he being ranked outside the top 200? top 250 in other places? I get the strikeout rate (7.1K/9) is tough in todays landscape. Ask Santana’s owners in 2017 if they were hurt by owning him? I’m guessing that’s a no. Santana is a career 4.02 ERA pitcher with a 3.52 ERA since 2013. He has also averaged 29 starts per season in that span. He’s top 200 worthy in my opinion.

The Guy to Avoid: Byron Buxton

Oh, Byron, the ultimate fantasy tease. Buxton has been labelled the next Mike Trout for years now and, in the later portion of 2017, we may have finally seen it. Starting August 1, Buxton hit .298 with an .884 OPS the rest of the way. In those 56 games, Buxton tallied 11 HR and 13 SB. He also had 39 R and 35 RBI. That’s a 30/30 guy with 100+ in both runs and RBI. He also had 62 strikeouts compared to only 12 walks. This 5.17 K/BB ratio is right in line with his MLB level career rate of 4.66 K/BB. This is the kind of thing that killed Rougned Odor in 2017. I’m staying away from Buxton, even though the upside is SOOO tempting! I’m not spending a top 50 pick on that much risk.

The Prospect To Watch: Stephen Gonsalves

Looking for a high floor prospect with a great shot at significant playing time in the majors in 2018, look no further than Gonsalves. The 23-year-old lefty has a 2.39 ERA over 5 years in the minors. He also has a 9.7 K/9 over that span. Over the last 2 years in AA, Gonsalves has a 2.28 ERA in 161.2 IP with 185 Ks. The walk rate is pretty solid as well at 3.3 BB/9. He is clearly doing something right to be maintaining that low of an ERA. I see potential for Ervin Santana like numbers with a better K rate.