March 21, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Minnesota Twins center fielder Aaron Hicks (63) slides into second base as he doubles during the third inning against the New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

2013 AL Central Preview: Minnesota Twins

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2013 should be a telling year for the Minnesota Twins in their rebuilding project. The Twinkies lost 96 games last year but their were some bright spots.  Joe Mauer and his hair returned to form hitting .319.  Justin Morneau overcame his concussion syndrome and hit 19 HR with 77 RBI and Trevor Plouffe finally played to his potential at the plate by hitting 24 HR.  The big surprise however was Josh Willingham who supplied most of the Twins powers with 35 HR.

The Minnesota Twins offensive output should carry over to 2013 as the Twins farm system has produced another prospect.  Aaron Hicks the Twins #6 prospect according to MLB prospect watch, is finally ready for the show.  In 2012 Hicks had 13 HR with 32 SB while playing AA ball.  His outstanding spring .379/4/18 has earned him a spot on the opening day roster.  Hicks replaced Denard Span in center field whom the Minnesota Twins traded to the Washington Nationals in 2012.

If Aaron Hicks can settle into the top of the order the Twins 3-4-5 hitters should be able to produce more runs.  Mauer/Willingham/Morneau are a formidibale group to have in the middle of any line-up. Ryan Doumit and Trevor Plouffe can provide some more pop later in the order. So the question will be can the club put enough baserunners on before the middle of the line-up makes it to the plate.

Another question is whether the Twins pitching staff can hold a lead.  The Minnesota Twins completely revamped their pitching staff for 2013. They have a mix of young arms and crafty veterans that may benefit from the spacious confines of Target Field. Mike Pelfry and Kevin Correia anchor a rotation that will chew up innings while keeping the offense in the game.

The two bottom teams in the American League Central Division in 2012 have both drastically changed an aspect of their teams.  The Cleveland Indians chose to rebuild the line-up.  The Twins chose the rotation.  Both strategies will have different results. The Twins will fare better. 2013 Prediction: 70-92 Fourth Place

 

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