The Minnesota Twins did not make the playoffs last season, as they came up just a few games short of getting a wild card spot, but that is Okay. They were able to get experience playing in big games down the stretch, which will prepare them to make a playoff run this season.
Brian Dozier will be one of the main returning pieces. The All-Star second baseman was arguably the best player on the team last season, compiling a .236/.307/.444 slash line, along with a team leading 28 home runs and 77 runs batted in. He will be even more of a key this season, as the Twins lost veteran center fielder Torii Hunter to retirement. He will be replaced in the outfield by second year player Miguel Sano, who was the designated hitter last season for the Twins.
Another storyline to watch will be rookie Byung-ho Park, who the Twins signed from Korea over the offseason. He has been billed as the best player to ever come out of Korea. In his nine-year career, he has amassed a slash line of .281/.387/.564, along with 210 career home runs. Just last season he batted .343 with 53 home runs, which would have led the Twins in both categories had he come over a year earlier. One thing Twins fans hope for is that he turns out better than Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who the Twins signed out of Japan in 2011, but battled injuries and slumps, and never really made a splash, as he returned to Japan at the end of the 2012 season.
Paul Molitor is entering his second year as manager of the Twins, having taken over for longtime manager Ron Gardenhire, who was fired before last season after a four-year streak of missing the playoffs. Molitor’s first year has to be considered a success, as even though they barely missed the playoffs, not only were they in the race to the final weekend, but it was one of their best seasons in recent memory.
Combine all of that with the talent still left in the Twins minor league system, and the future has never looked brighter for the Twins.