The reigning American League Central winner Minnesota Twins had an epic regular season in 2019, winning 101 games while setting records for power output. 2019 was only the second time in team history that the Twins won at least 100 games in a season, and the Twins smashed 307 home runs, the most dingers in a single season by any team in MLB history. The Twins posted a .224 isolated power as a team, the best isolated power by any team in MLB history. They slugged .494 as a team, second best in MLB history. While these numbers were inflated due to a juiced ball–Minnesota’s league adjusted metrics weren’t quite as great historically–the Twins’ offense was unquestionably lethal in 2019. Minnesota enters 2020 as the favorites to repeat as AL Central champs on DraftKings Sportsbook.
Will Josh Donaldson be Twins MVP in his first season in Minnesota?
— Division Winner: -139
— League Winner: +800
— World Series: +1800
C.J. Cron, 1B; Jonathan Schoop, 2B; Kyle Gibson, SP; Martin Perez, SP; Jason Castro, C
Josh Donaldson, 3B; Kenta Maeda, SP; Homer Bailey, SP; Rich Hill, SP; Jhoulys Chacin, SP; Alex Avila, C
2020 Fantasy MVP
Josh Donaldson, 3B
The Twins signed Donaldson to a four-year deal worth $92 million in the offseason, and Donaldson is set to bat in the middle of the order for a Twins lineup that was elite in 2019. Donaldson spent 2019 with the Braves, where he posted a strong rebound season after injuries diminished his production in 2018. Donaldson produced 32 percent better than average when adjusted for park and league and posted power output that was comparable to his prime years with the Blue Jays. “Dongaldson”, who earned that nickname for his propensity to launch long ding dong Johnsons–baseball slang for home runs–hit 37 home runs and posted a .262 isolated power, power output that was nearly identical to his 2016 season in Toronto. While Donaldson’s strikeouts have gone up, he is still maintaining an extremely strong walk rate, walking in 15% of his plate appearances, much better than the league average of 8.5%. Donaldson’s strong production was also supported by strong contact quality, posting an exit velocity and batted ball angle derived expected wOBA that was slightly better than his actual wOBA. Batting in the middle of the order for a top offense, Donaldson is set to have an excellent chance to post huge RBI and R numbers in 2020.
2020 Fantasy LVP
Byron Buxton, OF
Buxton is very talented, but injuries have been an issue for him throughout his career. Buxton has recorded just 389 total plate appearances over the last two seasons combined and is coming off a significant shoulder injury that required surgery. A delay to the start of the 2020 MLB season may be beneficial for Buxton as he makes his way back from shoulder surgery, but his inability to consistently stay on the field could be an issue for fantasy owners again in 2020.
2020 Breakout Player
Mitch Garver, C
Garver’s outstanding 2019 season can already be considered a breakout, but there’s a new level of production that Garver may be able to reach in 2020 with expanded volume. A timeshare at catcher with Jason Castro limited Garver’s playing time, but he appears set to enter 2020 as Minnesota’s primary catcher. A significant boost in plate appearances could lead to a boost in fantasy volume, particularly with RBI and R. Garver’s surge in production in 2019 was fueled by a lot of fly balls, as Garver actively looked to get more lift on the ball in his swing. 47% of Garver’s batted balls were in the air in 2019, a bump from 37% in previous seasons. Garver’s fly ball rate was 10th highest among all players to record at least 300 plate appearances. All of the fly balls helped fuel gigantic home run output, as Garver smashed 31 dingers in only 359 plate appearances. Garver’s production was also supported by excellent contact quality, producing an expected wOBA of .387 based on the exit velocities and angles of his batted balls, the best mark among all catchers. With more consistent playing time, Garver could take a leap into the next tier of fantasy catchers.
The Twins’ offense looks primed to repeat as one of the best in baseball, especially after adding Josh Donaldson to the lineup. Minnesota changed the back end of their starting pitching rotation, adding Kenta Maeda, Homer Bailey and Rich Hill. While Bailey has had a reputation as a fantasy stack tomato can over the course of his career, he was solid in 2019, posting roughly league average numbers after increasing the usage of his splitter and cutting down the usage of his fastball. The injury-prone Hill likely can’t be counted on for volume, but he is effective when he is able to take the ball, which could be a bigger factor in what could be a significantly shortened MLB season. The Twins are also set to get Michael Pineda back from a suspension at some point, giving them a handful of solid rotation options. The Chicago White Sox have dramatically improved from 2019 and the Cleveland Indians have the tools to compete, but the Twins still enter the season in good position to repeat as AL Central champs.
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