Wednesday, March 29, 2017

So You Wanna Make A Bet: 2017 Minnesota Twins

With Opening Day of the 2017 Major League Baseball season upon us, it's time to take a look at what could be ahead for the home nine. There's plenty of projection systems out there giving us indications of what may happen, but only through a sports book can you make concrete guesses that equal out to dollars and cents. It's time to take a look at the over/unders for all things Twins related.

Pulled from Bovada, there's both individual as well as team specific over/unders for the 2017 season. Although the Twins don't have anywhere close to a national following, there's still a good number of big name players with specific achievements tabulated for them. Whether $5 or $500, here's your guide as to where you confidence should lie while putting up some cash on the Twinkies.

Brian Dozier HRs 29.5

Coming off a campaign in which he launched 42 longballs, Brian Dozier is in for some regression. The question that needs to be answered, is how far backwards does the Twins second basemen go? In 2016, he became the only player not named Harmon Killebrew to hit 40 HRs in a season for Minnesota. Prior to that effort, he launched 23 and 28 respectively. In 2016, Dozier's HR/FB% was a career best 18.4% and well off his 12.7% career mark. If there's a Twins player I'm betting on hitting 30 homers in 2017, it's a husky 3B, not Dozier.

Bet: Under 4* (Based on a 1* to 5* confidence rating)

Ervin Santana Wins 10.5

A year ago, the Twins had the worst starting staff in the big leagues. Not one pitcher picked up more than nine wins, and that was from Tyler Duffey, who was sent to Triple-A at one point. In two seasons with Minnesota, Santana has yet to record double-digit wins (albeit his 2015 was shortened). This season, he should have a solid offense behind him, but the question has to be in regards to how many leads the early season bullpen gives up. Pitcher wins are a fickle stat, and on a bad staff, I want no part of them.

Bet: Under 2*

Joe Mauer AVG .270

It's been three years since Joe Mauer has finished a season with an average north of .270. In 2014, the former MVP batted .277 with a .732 OPS across 120 G for the Twins. This season, Paul Molitor has talked plenty about how he'll need to give his first basemen regular rest, and target a lesser load to get the best out of him. If that is followed through upon, Mauer has a chance to put up his best season since being an All Star in 2013. Mauer is a Gold Glove caliber first basemen that just can't play every day anymore, Should Minnesota use Mauer correctly, and more against RHPs (.793 OPS vs RHP .610 OPS vs LHP in 2016), then he has a very realistic shot to impress.

Bet: Over 3*

Max Kepler HR 17.5

This is one of the most interesting numbers in the set. Kepler is not a traditional power hitter in that his swing is more reflective of a smooth stroke that simply runs into the ball. I like Kepler a lot, and think he'll make a nice career of doing damage in the gaps. He blasted 17 homers in just 113 games a year ago, and should have more opportunities this season. Kepler's lobgalls came in bunches though, and bolstered by a three-HR game, he hit 12 in a 26 game span. I'll go out on a limb here and say Byron Buxton hits more longballs than the German in 2017.

Bet: Under 2*

Miguel Sano HR 29.5

Do you know what the Twins third basemen is going to do a lot of in 2017? He's going to strike out. Miguel Sano is also going to send a lot of baseballs into the stratosphere. Last season, in 116 games, Sano hit 25 homers. Over that time, he was told to learn a new (and odd) position, and he wasn't healthy for a good portion of the season. Regardless of the setbacks, Sano came up just five dingers shy of the 30 mark. In 2017, I'd expect Sano to strike out no less than 200 times, but when he hits 35 homers, it's not going to matter much.

Bet: Over 4*

Minnesota Twins Wins 74.5

Wrapping up the list is the team number. Coming off of a 103 loss season, winning 75 games seems like a massive jump. The reality though, is that the 2016 outfit wasn't anything significantly different than the 2015 team that won 83 games. If there's something of a wildcard here, I think it's Paul Molitor. He's mismanaged his lineup and bullpen for some time, and that's going to cost a team needing to steal wins. At the end of the day though, I think the Twins have a better chance at winning 80 games, than I see them losing 90.

Bet: Over 3*