After winning 101 games and the AL Central crown during the 2019 season, they went into the offseason and made some pretty significant acquisitions. They signed Josh Donaldson at the hot corner, who will more than make up for some power lost with CJ Cron’s departure. Donaldson will be a staple in the middle of this lineup and should continue to produce at a high level. This will shift Sano over to 1B on a permanent basis, a position he is better suited for. The Twins pitching staff was a point of emphasis this offseason adding Kenta Maeda, Rich Hill, and Homer Bailey. These pitchers won’t bring the Twins to the next level but they provide much needed added veteran depth with some upside. Maeda was not a flashy get to the average baseball fan, but he has been brilliant in his career and was a smart acquisition for the club. As a whole, this team is utterly stacked and should win the AL Central again. Even with the vastly improved Chicago White Sox and the status quo Cleveland Indians looking to be their biggest competition, the Twins are head and shoulders above them. They have at the very least 13 players (9 position/4 pitchers) that are locked in drafts this year, and I could see anywhere from 16-18 players being drafted in deep mixed leagues. As always, I will breakdown where they are being drafted this year and what to expect from each of them.
Josh Donaldson (ADP 92): If I was a GM, Josh Donaldson would be a dream acquisition. He is as a complete of a hitter and fielder as you can have. Kudos to the Twins for spending money this offseason to sign him away from the Atlanta Braves. He will be a huge boost for them defensively and provide a potent bat in the middle of an already stacked Twins lineup. From a fantasy perspective, he is probably in the latter stages of his very productive career, but he was still a beast last year with his 132 wRC+. Donaldson contributes extensively across the board, outside of the stolen bases. Get aboard the Donaldson train. There are no signs that point to even any minor regression from last year. The only thing to keep in mind is that he now playing in a run suppressing park. He should be well worth his ADP and produce at or above his draft investment.
ZiPS Projections: .252/.373/.481 with 26HR/79 RBI/75 R and a .362 wOBA
Miguel Sano (ADP 116): Sano is a legitimate 40 HR contender. He had 34 jacks in just 105 games during the 2019 season. Since he came into the league with a strong performance in 2015, there have been some struggles that even still continue (like his ridiculous 35% k-rate), but he certainly settled in last year and looked much more comfortable at the plate and found a groove. Last year he was in the top 5% of the league in Barrel %, Exit Velocity, xSLG, xwOBACON, and HH%. The guy can just demolish the baseball when gets his bat on the ball. Sano is more than deserving of his ADP, probably being slightly under-drafted, and I prefer him to some of the other 1B that are being drafted in fronts of him like Rhys Hoskins, Jose Abreu, and Matt Olson. If he can say healthy, he will surely out produce the aforementioned trio and provide for significant value at his current ADP. I am all aboard the Miguel Sano bandwagon and he could be the most productive player in the Twins lineup outside of Nelson Cruz.
ZiPS Projections: .239/.336/.545 with 35 HR/91 RBI/71 R and a .363 wOBA
Mitch Garver (ADP 118): The fantasy community seems to think that Garver’s 2019 season was somewhat of a fluke, but I am not sure I agree with them totally. You rarely see a 28-year-old catcher explode on the major league scene like Garver did last season, but he looked to be legitimate. Projections are calling for a substantial drop in production, which is indicative of his ADP and being the 6th catcher off the board. He just had ridiculous numbers last year with his .404 wOBA and .354 ISO. I am not calling for a repeat performance, but his numbers should fall somewhere in-between what projections are calling for and what he produced last year. He had a .380 xwOBA, .316 xISO, and a 15.5 Barrel Percentage, which were all good for the top 5% in the league. In terms of overall skill set and potential performance, Garver is a top 3 fantasy catcher. However, since Garver gets limited PA compared to Realmuto and Yasmani Grandal, he is being drafted lower which is understandable. The Twins are in a tough spot because they have an everyday DH in Nelson Cruz, which should cap the number of PA that Garver would get, but one would hope that they let Garver catch 110-plus games this season. His power, plate discipline, and potential men on base opportunities are much too appealing to ignore in drafts this year.
ZiPS Projections: .249/.332/.470 with 18 HR/61 RBI/55 R and a .337 wOBA
Max Kepler (ADP 132): Yes, there are some absolute flaws with Keplers’s game with his inability to spread the ball out around the field (53% pull) and having a perennially absurdly low BABIP (career .253). However, he is a disciplined hitter that has a lot of power potential and should be hitting in the middle of the Twins lineup for years to come. The first few years of his career he was quite static in his standard statistics with minimal increases in his peripherals, but he absolutely exploded onto the scene last year. He has shown the progression that only gives me hope that last year is not his ceiling. Keith Law must’ve been so happy last year as two of his favorite prospects over the last decade (Schoop and Kepler) were on the same team. He must have had Thad Levine’s number on speed dial in 2019 then got into a big argument with him this offseason when they let Schoop go. Anyways, his ADP provides for phenomenal value and he should easily be a top 100 draft pick next season. Jump all over Kepler and I would even overreach for him if the situation calls for it. Easily the best bargain of any Twins hitter and could easily be the offensive MVP for the Twins.
ZiPS Projections: .254/.337/.488 with 28 HR/84 RBI/85 R and a .345 wOBA
Jorge Polanco (ADP 148): There is very little not to love about Polanco. Hitting atop the Twins line up, he’ll be in store for a plethora of runs once again. While adding in his solid approach and above-average power, he will provide for substantial value in the top 150 picks. Polanco gets hard contact and drives the ball to all parts of the field, which gives me optimism for further growth for the 26-year-old shortstop. Even though shortstop position is incredibly deep this year, Polanco is the perfect guy to wait on in the early mid-rounds of the drafts if you miss out on those top tier guys.
ZiPS Projections: .281/.342/.461 with 22 HR/83 RBI/86 R and a .338 wOBA
Byron Buxton (ADP 177): Oh how people just want to believe that Buxton will pan out and will be that superstar that we all dreamt he would be one day. They just can’t come to the realization that Buxton will probably be one of those highly touted prospects that never live up to his expectations. His ADP is actually surprisingly consistent with his production if you extrapolate it over a full season. If he can stay healthy, and he continues his progression, then he could have sneaky value. Personally, I will be fading him as his health is a big concern for me and I would rather look for speed elsewhere.
ZiPS Projections: .246/.305/.437 with 13 HR/49 RBI/54 R/17 SB and a .313 wOBA
Luis Arraez (ADP 261): Honestly, I am not sure what I am missing here with Arraez. I understand that he had a high average (.334), walked at an above-average clip, and scored runs in 2019, but is that really sufficient value for his ADP? He is a singles hitter that will be hitting the bottom of the Twins lineup, albeit a great one, but his value is entirely dependent on his strong average and walks rate. If his BABIP drops to a more realistic .320ish, his value will be almost entirely shot. Yes, some hitters can hit for a higher BABIP, but that is mostly correlated to speed and barreled balls, which Arraez does not have or do. I am completely lost on what the allure is with Arraez. Sure, he may continue to hit over .300 and score some runs, which has value, no doubt, but how is that worthy of an ADP of 261? He is nowhere near worthy of being drafted within the first 300 picks. I do cede to projections for the most part, but am not buying into Arraez’s.
ZiPS Projections: .309/.370/.403 with 6 HR/45 RBI/81 R and a .334 wOBA
Jose Berrios (ADP 77): Jose would mark the first Twins player off the board on a roster that is completely stacked, and the Twins could very well have the most players drafted from a single team in the American League. The former first-round pick has all the markings of a potential superstar, but he is not quite there at the moment. All of his peripherals suggest that he is a sure-fire SP2 in the league and a perennial all-star with borderline SP1 makeup. He has a solid ADP that is consistent with his production, but I would much rather “reach” for Lucas Giolito in the 3rd round or wait for Trevor Bauer or Tyler Glasnow in the 6th or 7th rounds. Don’t get me wrong, if he is the best starting pitcher on the board in the 7th then I would have no problem taking him, but would also rather wait for 40 picks to take Zach Wheeler, Jesus Luzardo, or Frankie Montas if there was a positional player I loved in the 7th. With all this being said, Berrios has a group of strong supporters behind him and I don’t blame them being bullish on him as there could be substantial progression this year.
ZiPS Projections: 190 IP/13 wins/ 4.17 ERA/4.14 FIP with a 9.14 K/9 and a 2.29 BB/9
Taylor Rogers (ADP 104): I just love this guy. The lefty absolutely dominated hitters with his 11.74 K/9 and 1.43 BB/9 during the 2019 season. He easily has the ability to be a top 3 closer from a fantasy perspective. You don’t see a lot of closers with a 3-pitch arsenal but Rogers has just that, with his filthy sinker, slider, and curveball. I expect a truly brilliant season from Rogers and should be one of the few closers that are must-haves.
ZiPS Projections: 67 IP/31 SV/3.09 ERA/3.08 FIP with a 10.48 K/9 and a 2.55 BB/9
Kenta Maeda (ADP 172): The Twins originally acquired Maeda in the Mookie Betts 3-team trade, but after an impasse (Graterol’s medical), the Twins and Dodgers made a deal on their own where the Twins emerged with the gist of the original deal. Even though the Dodgers may win this deal in the long run, the Twins are the clear winners of the deal in the interim. Maeda will provide its staff with a clear SP3. He has been phenomenally consistent in his career and was once again wonderful last season. This was a very smart, underrated acquisition for Thad Levine and the Twins. I love him in fantasy playing at Target Field this year and should light up the AL Central.
ZiPS Projections: 135 IP/10 wins/ 4.25 ERA/3.95 FIP with a 10.35 K/9 and a 3.32 BB/9
Jake Odorizzi (ADP 174): Finally! The 2019 season was exactly what some of us on the Jake Odorizzi bandwagon had been waiting for and he delivered brilliantly. It only took 12 years from being drafted until last season, but we finally got it. He had a solid career up to that point and I was a little surprised that the Rays gave up on Odorizzi after his down 2017 campaign, so Kudos to the Twins for taking a chance on the ultra-talented pitcher. Rarely do you see a guy who can mix 6 pitches into his repertoire, but Odorizzi can and with ease. His wFA (plus-17.4) skyrocketed last year and was a big reason for his success. I love his value here in the middle rounds as he was arguably the Twins best starting pitcher last season. I will be targeting him in all of my drafts around this time when there are very few pitchers with his upside left.
ZiPS Projections: 149 IP/12 wins/4.09 ERA/4.12 FIP with a 9.5 K/9 and a 3.13 BB/9
Eddie Rosario (ADP 91): Yeah, I just don’t love the ADP here and think Rosario is overrated amongst drafters because of his power and sits in the middle of the Twins lineup. The fact that he is going ahead of Kepler by more than 3 rounds is mind-boggling. There is nothing that Rosario does that Kepler does not do, but Rosario is a far and away from an inferior all-around hitter. Rosario lacks the ability to walk and had a meager .303 xwOBA last season with a barely above league average 103 wRC+. That does not scream top 100 picks to me. You won’t be getting the value here that you need in order to justify Rosario this early.
ZiPS Projections: .283/.312/491 with 27HR/96 RBI/89 R and a .331 wOBA
Nelson Cruz (ADP 81): I went back and forth between Kepler and Cruz on who I should label the Twins “MVP”, but it was hard not to go with Cruz. Without question, Cruz is putting together a Hall of Fame-worthy career and only seems to be getting better with age. The soon to be 40 years old will be looking for his 8th consecutive season of 37 HR-plus. There is certainly cause for concern considering his age, but he just had a career season in 2019 with a wRC+ of 163 and a wOBA of .417, which are just monstrous numbers. There should be no fear moving forward to the 2020 season about whether or not Cruz can still produce at an optimal rate. His ADP is actually low considering his numbers and you should load up on him in your drafts as there is nothing in his peripherals that would suggest substantial regression.
ZiPS Projections: .272/.353/542 with 32 HR/96 RBI/63 RBI and a .368 wOBA
Justin has been a DFS pro for 5 years now, focusing primarily on NHL and MLB. He has won numerous tournaments on Draft Kings and FanDuel and has made it to multiple live finals for hockey. Prior to becoming a DFS pro, he was an associate scout for the Toronto Blue Jays.