1) The roster will look a lot different on May 1 than it will on April 1. There was a lot of consternation and surprise Thursday when ByungHo Park was sent to the minors after a strong spring, with the Twins instead opting to keep 13 pitchers.
It’s a good guess that he’s one of a handful of Twins who won’t start the season on the MLB roster but will be here soon. Infielder Ehire Adrianza, a slick fielder who did some good things this spring but is starting the year on the disabled list, is another. Last year the Twins called up seven different players (five of them pitchers) during April. The roster is, as always, subject to change.
2) Pitching will continue to be this team’s downfall. Park’s demotion underscores what figures to be the main problem for the Twins again: pitching. Ironically, now it’s impacting the hitting.
The need to carry 13 pitchers — an acknowledgment that there might be some short starts and shaky relief work early — meant there was no room for Park on the initial roster. Overall, the pitching staff is still filled with tons of question marks. If anything keeps the Twins from more than just a small jump from their 59-victory total from a season ago, it will be the pitching.
3) The Twins will have the biggest victory total increase in MLB. Even if the pitching struggles to an expected degree, it’s still a good bet that Minnesota will experience the biggest gains in victories among any major league team.
Part of that, of course, is because the team set such a low bar last season in going 59-103, the most losses for the franchise since moving to Minnesota. The Twins could win 13 more games than they did a season ago and still finish with their sixth 90-loss season in the past seven seasons. Still, an online wagering site recently gave the Twins the best odds of all 30 teams of making the biggest jump in victories from last year to this year. So that’s something, right?
4) This is the year the Twins’ attendance bottoms out. Attendance at Target Field has decreased every year since the ballpark opened in 2010. It was over 3.2 million the season the ballpark opened, when the Twins won 94 games. Last year it dipped below 2 million for the first time since 2004, and it could very well go even lower this year.
But the guess here is that 2018 is the year the trend swings up again — at least a little. Those 3 million fan days might be hard to imagine for a long time, though.
5) To get more fans, the Twins need some of their young players to emerge. To that end, the prediction here is that someone other than Brian Dozier — who has led the team in homers each of the past four seasons, hitting 42 last year — will grab the team lead this year. The best guess: Miguel Sano is that guy.