The Twins qualified for the postseason last year and have made a few moves to fortify their bullpen this season. The Indians, though, will be the runaway winners of the American League Central once again this year.
That’s what the projected standings at Baseball Prospectus suggest, anyway.
The Twins are currently tabbed to win 81 games by the PECOTA projection system, originally developed by Nate Silver. That’s the system BP uses each year to project win totals and final standings. They’re not perfect, of course, but they act as a pretty good leading indicator for the horse race of a regular season. In other words, it’s pretty good at putting teams into bins labeled Great, OK or Bad.
The Twins, in their current form, are expected to be OK. Meanwhile, the Indians are expected to repeat their greatness from a year ago. Here are the projected A.L. Central standings, from PECOTA:
Kansas City 66-96
Even signing a great starter like Yu Darvish wouldn’t overcome that kind of a gap. Now that the Twins have made their first venture into the postseason with this collection of players, the next goal should be to become a club capable of winning the division. If the PECOTA projections are to be taken seriously, the Twins still have a lot of work to do in that regard.
It should be said, of course, that both clubs may not be done adding to their roster. Both could still dive into the trade market or sign one of the dozens of good free agents that remain available. The Twins report to camp next week, and the team probably won’t be complete by the time they arrive in Fort Myers.
Last winter PECOTA expected the Twins would win 79 games, which some observers felt was overly optimistic given the fact that Minnesota had only won 59 games the year before. But the Twins out-performed even optimistic outlooks and won 85 games on the way to the A.L. Wild Card game.
The Twins lost several players to free agency and retirement, including Glen Perkins, Chris Gimenez, Hector Santiago, Bartolo Colon and Dillon Gee.
The Indians were one of the best teams in baseball and they look to continue to carry that distinction this summer. They went 102-60 last year and lost the Yankees in the Division Series. They lost several good players to free agency, including Carlson Santana, Joe Smith, Bryan Shaw, Jay Bruce and Austin Jackson. They signed first baseman Yonder Alonso.