Now that the World Series has been finished for oh, less than a day (and we can safely conclude that no, this year’s series was not better than the 1991 series), some folks are already turning their attention toward trying to figure out what will happen in 2018.
Guesses about which teams have the best chance to win it all about a year from now — before free agency and before 162 regular-season games have played out — aren’t really that useful. They definitely are subject to change as teams reshape themselves or suffer key losses in the offseason.
That said, if you’re a Twins fan and you’re snooping around some of the early 2018 chatter … well, you might notice a distinct lack of respect for your favorite team. The Twins, I’ll remind you, won 85 games last season and qualified for the postseason as the second AL Wild Card team.
They were certainly a surprise entrant into the playoffs, and sustained success is far from guaranteed. That said, don’t they deserve a little better than …
*ESPN’s David Schoenfield, in his early 2018 power rankings, puts the Twins 19th out of 30 MLB teams. It was quite literally one of those times when I started reading the list and expected to find the Twins somewhere between 10 and 15, then grew increasingly exasperated as I had to keep scrolling.
At least Schoenfield feels bad about it. He writes; “I think they were a little bit of a fluke. I feel bad saying that. I like the Twins. … I’ll even buy into much of that offensive production the final two months, when the Twins led the majors in runs scored. Byron Buxton playing center field was as lovely as the sound of a child’s laughter. Still, the rotation and bullpen give me jitters, with a strikeout rate that ranked 19th in the majors.”
That last sentence is fair, but it probably undervalues pitching prospects Stephen Gonsalves and Fernando Romero. Those two could stabilize the rotation quickly — as could a splashy free agent move — while the return of Trevor May and other injured bullpen arms could fortify the bullpen.
*That said, oddsmakers aren’t terribly impressed by the Twins, either. World Series future odds for 2018 vary quite a bit, but I counted 22 teams with better odds than the Twins (at 66 to 1) to win it all next year on Odds Shark. Among them: The White Sox and Angels, both at 50 to 1.
Again, it’s very early. It’s about as early as you can get, in fact, when really thinking about the 2018 season. But the Twins appear to be in prove-it mode once again.