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Can the Twins Surprise Again in 2016?

The Minnesota Twins came out of nowhere to shock the baseball world last season, staying in the American League Wild Card race all the way into the campaign’s final weekend. While the Twins were undoubtedly one of the biggest surprises of 2015, are they going to be able to do it again this year? It won’t be easy.

The Twinkies, who finished with an 83-79 record, possess one of the youngest lineups in the bigs. Minny has a grade A farm system, and a lot of its blue chip prospects are knocking on the door at the major league level. So, do sportsbooks expect them to take another leap in 2016? Not exactly.

At online shop Bovada, Paul Molitor’s crew are +5000 to win the World Series (ahead of seven other teams), +2500 to win the American League pennant (ahead of just Oakland) and have a +750 shot to claim the American League Central (the longest odds in the division).

Those odds look pretty steep until you look back at last season. In 2015 the Twins were +1800 to win the AL Central and soared over their season win total. Oddsmakers are clearly not anticipating much from this squad, however, the past success of the young roster makes this year’s prognostications a virtual toss up.

Minnesota did not make many offseason moves, but their division was busy. The defending champion Kansas City Royals will almost surely be in contention once again, while the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox retooled their rosters in an effort to vault themselves back up to the upper echelon of the American League. The young Cleveland Indians, who possess one of the most dominant pitching staffs in the majors, cannot be counted out either.

That’s a major reason why the Twins’ 2016 season win total of 78.5 is interesting. There’s no clear favorite to win the division, however, the depth added to the AL Central will give them a lot of tough games. That number looks a bit low, though, and considering how much Molitor got out of his unproven roster last season, I highly doubt they’ll regress below that.

One of the aforementioned prospects already making a difference is outfielder Miguel Sano. Sano made some serious noise in his debut season and should continue to help out what’s looking like a very formidable offense. Brian Dozier, Joe Mauer, Byron Buxton and newly acquired South Korean import Byung-ho Park are also more than capable of doing some damage at the plate.

The pitching staff is solid, yet unspectacular. Phil Hughes remains the anchor, while the club is looking forward to getting a full season from Ervin Santana after the Dominican Republic native missed 80 games in 2015 as a result of a positive performance-enhancing drug test.

Many pundits expected the Twins to be good one day, but it’s come sooner than expected. There’s no question about it: this is a team on the rise. No one really knows if Minnesota will continue to improve by leaps and bounds, and the safe bet is to expect 2016 to be another rebuilding season rather than one of contention.

Either way, it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch. The future is now in the North Star State.

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2016 Minnesota Twins Futures Odds
World Series+5000
American League Pennant+2500
American League Central+750
Win Totals78.5

Odds as of April 1 at Bovada