By Michael Wong
Fort Myers, Fla.--The Minnesota Twins want it known that they at least tried. Tried in a sense to surround some talented young pieces on their roster with high-end veterans in free agency such as pitcher Yu Darvish or outfielder Lorenzo Cain. Unfortunately, the Twins failed to secure those two and mostly their other targets which makes their 2018 outlook quite murky and that was before losing ace Ervin Santana for likely all of April due to winter surgery. Be that as it may, here are the more pertinent fantasy baseball questions surrounding the team.
1. Is this finally the tear Byron Buxton turns into a five-tool monster? Well five tools may be beyond high reach due to a constant strikeout problem putting a hurt on his batting average but Buxton has some serious power/speed ability that seems ready to launch in 2018. There have been quite a few stops and starts to Buxton's MLB career due to struggles hitting offspeed stuff but at least now he is getting on base at a decent clip and using his speed to cause havoc on the bases. There is still a sizable chunk of the fantasy baseball community that is understandably leery of investing too much in Buxton but the talent is obvious. We could be looking at a 20/35 campaign here from Buxton and if he can hit .265, then even better. The good time may finally have arrived.
2. Can Jose Berrios join Buxton on the pitching side in terms of breaking through? Berrios has the upper-level talent that his teammate has and 2018 seems to be his coming out party as well. Berrios can get the fastball up to near triple digits and his control has gotten better as well from 2016 through 2017. Yeah we always advise trying to avoid AL pitchers if possible but Target Field leans toward the pitching side and Berrios misses a high number of bats to make him look even more interesting. Get on board.
3. Is Miguel Sano facing a suspension? Sano is certainly in the crosshairs of MLB due to being accused of sexual assault during the winter and a suspension could be coming at a moment's notice if the league finds something. Without the suspension, Sano has 40-home run power but the average is still going to be an issue to a near 30.0 K/9 rate.
4. Brian Dozier is the man. While he too has an issue with strikeouts, Dozier has 30/15 ability, while also scoring 100 runs without issue. Again, the average is not pretty but Dozier is right there as a top-tier fantasy baseball second baseman for 2018.
5. Addison Reed or Fernando Rodney at closer? Amazingly, it looks like Rodney will get yet another shot to close games at the start of the season for the Twins. There is always the threat Rodney will throw it all away again and so Reed needs to be kept close by. Remember Reed has a history of closing games and he was very good pitching in setup for the New York Mets the last few years. There is a feeling here Reed will lead the Twins in saves but you never truly know what will happen when it comes to Rodney and his penchant to keep on going when we all thought he would be out of baseball already.