Saturday, May 23, 2015

Projections Are Made To Be Adjusted

With the first quarter of the 2015 Major League Baseball season in the books, we are provided a great opportunity to take a look at how the season is shaping up. Considering the projections that were made coming into the year, it's a good time to see how things stand, and take note of some adjustments that may shake out as the season draws on.

Keeping the focus on the AL Central, namely the Twins, let's take a look at the division first. Going into the year I had a hard time believing that any team in the central would reach either the 90 loss or 90 win mark. As it stands currently, I still feel pretty good about no team losing 90 games, but it seems silly to believe that neither the Royals nor the Tigers would have a chance at totaling 90 wins.

2015 AL Central Season Preview

I didn't expect the Royals to be nearly as good as they have been, and while the Tigers have some definite holes in their pitching staff, that offense is producing at an impressive clip. In picking the White Sox to finish second in the division, I was a big believer of the moves they made this offseason. They are starting to find their stride and could be there soon enough. Minnesota finishing fourth or better in the division is off to a good start, but is going to take some consistent baseball down the stretch to stick.

Now, looking at the Twins, there's some definite adjustments that have to be made. I had the home town club clocking in at 79 wins prior to the Spring Training announcement that Ervin Santana would be out until July. Losing your number two starter is always going to take a toll, no matter how you make up for it. I believe my adjustment was to put Minnesota somewhere in the realm of 74 or 75 wins following the suspension (which by my projections, would have dropped them to last in the AL Central).

Nearing the end of May, the Twins have already totaled over 1/4 of the wins they would need to reach 80 on the season. As it stands right now, the club is on pace to win 93 games (a mark they likely won't touch). No matter the regression that is sure to be coming to the Twins, it's become more than time to adjust expectations. 79 wins for this club was doable with everything going right with the roster structure staying in an optimal position. That couldn't be further from what Paul Molitor has experienced, yet he still has him team on pace to exceed those expectations.

Considering the summer months are where a baseball team's season is shaped, expect the Twins to develop an even strong identity in the coming weeks. Looking at things as they stand and what is to come, suggesting 80 wins as a realistic mark seems to be something I am comfortable with. Should the combination of Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano get hot and be called upon sooner rather than later, they could provide and even stronger boost to the big league club. While there are plenty of players contributing over their heads (Mike Pelfrey for one), there's guys who have stepped up and those that should still be expected to do so (Brian Dozier/Trevor Plouffe the former, Oswaldo Arcia/Kennys Vargas the latter).

Not only is this Twins team not going to come close to 90 losses, but it's time to stop wondering what if and when it may fall apart. Minnesota is back to playing competitive baseball on a nightly basis, and a .500 record is well within their grasp.