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5 Twins

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CONTENDERS

SCOUT'S TAKE

KEY QUESTION

A new regime is there with a new approach—can they get the most out of their underperformers? Byron Buxton has all talent in world, but he essentially got the previous regime ousted with how he crapped the bed. Miguel Sanó is always hurt and always fat, but there's hope for Buxton and Max Kepler, who needs to lift the ball with more authority.

COMEBACK CANDIDATE

Michael Pineda is gonna be a key for them. He hasn't pitched since 2017 but still has ace stuff with that great slider. He's always better than his ERA; keeping him on the field is the key. With him and José Berríos at the top of the staff, the staff will surprise.

UNDERRATED

If Jonathan Schoop gets his hands on the ball, you're out. He had a down year in Milwaukee, but 30 homers is still possible. He and Nelson Cruz were great under-the-radar signings.

LAST LICKS

I'm worried about [new manager] Rocco Baldelli. They're all analytics there and have done very little work on fundamentals. If Tom Kelly came back and saw this, he'd throw up ... With the Indians likely to take a step back, there's a huge opportunity for the Twins.

THE PAYOFF PITCH

WITH THREE rebuilding teams below them and one (maybe) above, the Twins have a chance to steal the AL Central from the defending champion Indians. But that chance hinges on a healthy Byron Buxton. The 25-year-old played only 28 games last season while battling migraines, a broken left toe and a strained left wrist. Minnesota then denied him a late-season return in order to retain control of him through 2022. This spring, though, Buxton is healthy and playing like the No. 2 pick he was in '12. He has the highest ceiling of any Twin, with speed that makes him both MLB's best defensive centerfielder (saving 24 runs in '17, his one full season) and one of its top base stealers (caught five times in 51 career attempts). Minnesota has put together a contender through development and free agency. Now they just need Buxton to be their star.

OVER UNDER

83.5

The Twins lineup has been beefed up, and the rotation boasts surprising depth. The wins will pile up for them in the worst division in baseball.

LINEUP

SS Jorge Polanco

.288/6 HR/.427 SLG

1B C.J. Cron

.253/30 HR/.493 SLG

LF Eddie Rosario

.288/24 hr/77 RBI

DH Nelson Cruz

.256/37 HR/.509 SLG

RF Max Kepler

.224/20 HR/58 RBI

2B Jonathan Schoop

.233/21 HR/.416 SLG

3B Marwin González

.247 BA/16 HR/.409 SLG

C Jason Castro

.143/1 HR/.238 SLG

CF Byron Buxton

.156/0 HR/5 SB

BENCH

IF Miguel Sanó

.199/13 HR/41 RBI

1B Tyler Austin

.230 BA/17 HR/.480 SLG

FANTASY BREAKOUT

Last year JOSÉ BERRÍOS began to rein in his potentially elite curveball. With just a bit more consistency, he's a top 20 AL pitcher.

ROTATION

RH José Berríos

12 W/3.84 ERA/1.14 WHP

RH Kyle Gibson

10 W/3.62 ERA/8.2 K9

RH Jake Odorizzi

7 W/4.49 ERA/8.9 K9

RH Michael Pineda

8 W/4.39 ERA/1.29 WHP*

BULLPEN

RH Blake Parker

14 SV/3.26 ERA/1.24 WHP

RH Trevor May

3 SV/3.20 ERA/1.03 WHP

LH Taylor Rogers

2.63 ERA/0.95 WHP/9.9 K9

MANAGER

Rocco Baldelli

*Stats from 2017