Twins

Building the Best 26-Man Team with Former and Current Twins

Please Credit: David Dermer-USA TODAY Sports

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We’re going to get creative to bring you some interesting content here at Zone Coverage for however long the no-sports mandate lasts here in the United States. So for now, let’s have a little fun with the best possible MLB team that could be created with current players who have Minnesota Twins fingerprints on them.

That means not only players who played with them in the big leagues or even the minors, but players who were drafted by the Twins — but did not sign. Since the stigma seems to be that players get better after leaving the Twins, this should be a fun exercise to see what kind of Twins footprint exists over the rest of the big leagues.

Let’s go:

Starting Lineup (9)

Analysis: This….is an awfully lot like the 2020 Twins. Escobar bumps a really, really good player in Luis Arraez off the roster completely — more on that in a second — and it’s possible most people didn’t know the Twins drafted Springer in the 48th (!) round 2008 before he opted to go to Connecticut for three years. Springer wound up going 11th overall in 2011, so that seems like it a wise move.

Anyway, this unit bangs — hard.

Mar 11, 2020; Fort Myers, Florida, USA; Minnesota Twins outfielder Max Kepler (26) dives to catch a fly ball in the third inning against the Atlanta Braves at CenturyLink Sports Complex. Please Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
Bench (4)

Analysis: It was hard to decide between Castro and Wilson Ramos for the backup spot, but I prefer a defensive-minded catcher on my hypothetical bench, and honestly there wasn’t much of a gap offensively. They were worth almost exactly the same WAR via Fangraphs but Castro’s came in much fewer games played. Wong, like Springer, was a late-round pick out of high school for the Twins in 2008 — well, 16th round so not ridiculously late — out of high school, but ultimately opted to go to the University of Hawaii for three years before going 22nd overall in 2011.

It’s hard to believe what has transpired over the last couple years has led to Santana making this team, but his versatility helps — he played at least 50 defensive innings at every non-catcher defensive position last year, somehow — and that’s before considering he hit a solid .283/.324/.534. That pushed Niko Goodrum, Ehire Adrianza and even Marwin Gonzalez off the roster.

Of course, Hicks making the team assumes health — which is no guarantee as he’s on the mend from Tommy John surgery and wasn’t expected back until late in the first half of the upcoming season. If he can’t go, either Eddie Rosario or Miami’s Brian Anderson (Round 20, 2011) get the nod as the reserve outfielder.

Rotation (5)

Analysis: I’m expecting a fair amount of blowback for the inclusion of Lynn, but if we’re being honest and evaluating heavily based on 2019 numbers, he should actually be the Opening Day starter for this outfit. We’ll give Berrios the nod for better performance over the last two years and a little home cooking besides, but Lynn definitely belongs. The only truly difficult omission here was a healthy Rich Hill, but that’s something that’s tougher to project than someone like Hicks, in my estimation. Maeda and Pineda make up one hell of a Nos. 4-5 punch.

Mar 11, 2020; Fort Myers, Florida, USA; Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Jose Berrios (17) throws a pitch in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at CenturyLink Sports Complex. Please Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
Bullpen (8)

Analysis: When Rogers is arguably your fourth-best reliever, this is a ridiculous group. Hendriks was arguably the best reliever in baseball last year — Kirby Yates might have an argument — and Pressly and Anderson are in that discussion a little further down the list as well, as is Rogers. Beyond that, May and Duffey took huge steps last year, and I’m a big believer in what Littell did after a rough start to the 2020 season — so much so that I took him over Tyler Clippard and Sergio Romo.

Oh, and who doesn’t want a baby-faced flamethrower in the mix as well? Dump Graterol and add in one of the veterans if you wish, but if I’m going into 2020 with this roster, Brusdar belongs.

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