2011 Fearless Predictions - Minnesota Twins
The Twins offense figures out how to hit at Target Field and brings back some of the pop from 2009. The combination of a more active running game and the power game support the Twins pitching enough for a 94-68 season and another AL Central title.
Mauer leads the AL in batting at .342 and belts 22 HR to make another run at the AL MVP
Morneau comes back strong and hits .302 with 34 HR to go along with 132 RBI and makes a strong run at AL MVP and comeback player of the year
Nishioka is a bit of a bust hitting .266 with 18 SB
Casilla and Valencia offer little support on the left side of the IF by hitting a combined .268 with 18 HR and 22 SB
Young improves on his 2010 performance and busts out for 28 HR and 112 RBI and chips in 12 SB to go along with a .304 AVG
Span returns by hitting .308 with 116 R and 26 SB
Cuddyer has a mild rebound by hitting .278 with 22 HR
Kubel also rebounds with a .290 AVG and 28 HR
The only other player to contribute is Thome who adds 18 HR in 240 AB
Liriano continues to improve and ends 17-8 with a 3.06 ERA and 228 K in 210 IP
Pavano has another stellar year at 16-10, 6 CG and a 3.54 ERA
Baker surprises the skeptics by going 14-8 with a 3.66 ERA by taking advantage of Target Field
"Big Game" Blackburn solidifies his spot as the 4th starter and checks in at 10-8 with a 4.04 ERA
After an early season injury puts Duensing on the DL, Slowey takes over as the 5th starter and finishes at 10-4 with a 3.80 ERA, while Duensing returns to the bullpen upon his return
The bullpen struggles a bit, but holds up long enough for some mid-season additions to come in and provide some help. Nathan and Capps split saves throughout the season, but Nathan ends with 30 and Capps chips in with 16.
My own "Fearless Prediction" is that Jim Thome won't improve on his current rate of April 2011, of two home runs per month, as age finally catches up with him. It will come right down to the wire as to whether he reaches the 600 milestone or not and I predict that Thome will enter September still short of the milestone with 598 or 599 home runs. However, Thome will hit his 600th homerun sometime in September and that may be his last career home run. I say he'll finish the season with 600 to 602 home runs and then retire when there is no interest expressed in him by the Twins or by other teams through Free Agency this coming Fall. to have him return to MLB in 2012 For 21 seasons, Thome had a good run, and the Hall Of Fame awaits his entrance sometime between 2017 and 2020.