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After the multiple disappointments of 2021, where so much went wrong and dropped the Twins into the lower reaches of the American League, the Twins have made significant overhauls to their roster to prepare for this week's start of the season. Here's a look at five things that will go a long way toward determining how the Minnesota will fare.

  • Starters have career years

The Twins need the Sonny Gray of 2019, the Dylan Bundy of 2020, the Chris Archer of 2017, the Joe Ryan of 2024 and the Bailey Ober of minor league mastery to show up, and they'll need strong middle relief early in the season while the starters get stretched out. Don't discount an early-season trade or signing to beef up the front end of the staff.

  • Byron Buxton plays 140 games

The five-tool player got a seven-year, $100 million contract that will be a steal for the Twins if he stays healthy. That has happened for only one of his seasons in Minnesota, but precautions have been taken – you know, like the oven mitt. There's a world of difference for the Twins when Buxton is in center field.

  • Royals, Guardians, Tigers go down

Let's not forget the Twins finished last in the AL Central in 2021, going 37-39 against division foes. In 2019, they were 50-26. Kansas City, Cleveland and Detroit all expect to be better this season, and the White Sox are one of baseball's best teams. Success in the division might be the key to challenging for a spot in the expanded (six team) league playoffs.

  • Carlos Correa is all that

The new shortstop gives the Twins a healthy hitting lineup, a dynamite defense up the middle and a genuine leader to help fill the role left when Nelson Cruz departed. If the Twins struggle, however, and it appears he's headed toward an opt-out in October, he might be traded in July for whatever the team can get in return. That ugly possibility could be avoided if he fulfills the promise of his $35.1 million yearly salary.

  • Catching tandem works

Ryan Jeffers will be counted on for strong defense behind the plate and savvy control of the pitching staff. That part should be better than the Twins got with Mitch Garver, but Garver was a dynamic hitter when at his best. The big question might be how Gary Sanchez, with a bad defensive rep, fares behind the plate, and if he can avoid the offensive slumps that occasionally cost him a spot in the Yankees lineup.