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Doug Wolter: Here's how the Twins will pull it off

Hello, everyone. Today I am going to tell you how the Minnesota Twins can shock the baseball world in 2017 and not only win the American League Central division but also play in the World Series.

Hello, everyone. Today I am going to tell you how the Minnesota Twins can shock the baseball world in 2017 and not only win the American League Central division but also play in the World Series.

Nothing is impossible in the first week of April. Everybody has a chance. All it takes is for everything to fall in place.

For inspiration, I called up one of my favorite Monty Python skits on YouTube just the other day and watched again as that intrepid crew explained to a TV audience how to rid the world of all known diseases. Eric Idle, as “Jackie,” summed it up: “Well, first of all become a doctor and discover a marvelous cure for something. And then when the medical profession really starts to take notice of you, you can jolly well tell them what to do and make sure they get everything right so there will never be any diseases ever again.”

Yes, for the Twins to be successful, they’ll have to have a lot of luck. But this is how it could happen:

I see second baseman Brian Dozier hitting 45 home runs (which is three better than last season) and avoiding the first-half slump that plagued him in 2016. So that means his batting average will increase from .268 to about .280.

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This is also the year that Miguel Sano learns to play third base. Well, learns may be too optimistic. But he’ll look more like a baseball player and less like a hockey goalie.

Let’s give sweet-swinging outfielder Max Kepler a higher average. His swing is too pretty to have him bat .235, as he did last year, and let’s increase his home runs from 17 to 25. He’s gotta be capable of that.

Also, Tim Tebow is released by the Mets. More on that later.

Is this the year outfielder Byron Buxton cashes in on his talent? Well, it doesn’t matter. On May 7, the Angels’ Mike Trout contracts a very scary disease that doctors say will sap his energy in the hot summer months, causing him to miss weeks -- maybe months -- of the season. Concerned, the reigning MLB MVP demands to be traded to a cooler climate. It is about this time that the Twins’ heretofore disappointing young outfielder, Byron Buxton, goes on a tear and appears to be ready finally to fulfill his potential.

A trade is made.

And what about Joe Mauer? Well, we can’t reasonably predict that he’ll ever bat .365 again or slug 28 home runs. Best case scenario -- give him a .280 average and 12 homers, and cut his ratio of grounding out to second base in RBI situations from 67 percent of his at bats down to about 25 percent. That’ll help.

We scoffed when we were told that the new Twins catcher, Jason Castro, will sneak a few wins for the team because he frames pitches so well. Well, who would’ve thought? He does exactly that, proving beyond any reasonable doubt that umpires never have, and still do not, know the strike zone any better than the man sitting in the upper deck in rightfield.

In mid-July, the Twins are beginning to go into a slump. This is the time a slightly rabid raccoon wanders into the dugout during a game against the Kansas City Royals. Fearful, no one disposes of the intruder. But while the coon cowers in a corner, the Twins rally from an 8-2 deficit to a 10-9 victory, and the drooling animal is captured, placed in a cage, and fed bread crumbs by pitcher Adalberto Mejia.

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The raccoon becomes the team mascot and the Twins win 12 of their next 14 games. They call him “Rocky.”

The one problem area that remains with the offense is Robbie Grossman, who proves to be an inadequate designated hitter. This issue is solved, however, when former Twin and ex-Boston Red Sox superstar slugger David Ortiz opts to end his retirement. Saying he’ll only play for the Twins, he gets his wish.

Now about that Twins pitching staff. On paper, it’s as terrible as it was last year when it ranked last in the majors in ERA. But in June, pitching coach Neil Allen is fired, and in his place manager Paul Molitor chooses a literally unheard-of replacement who spent the last seven years of his life mixing weird drinks in Fiji. He arrives dressed in an outrageous Hawaiian shirt, flip-flops on his feet and a daiquiri in his hand, and he teaches every member of the pitching staff a new kind of pitch that “disintegrates” as it approaches the batter. He calls the pitch “The Amanda Whurlitzer” and Phil Hughes uses it to win 22 games and the Cy Young Award.

Even with that, of course, the Twins fall into another slump after Rocky dies. But Tim Tebow is called up in September and flashes the same kind of brilliance he flashed ever-so-briefly as an NFL quarterback. Just as quickly, he fades again into incompetence, but not before the Twins right the ship and sell a whole lot of extra tickets.

Trout wins the MVP Award again as Buxton finishes the year with a .232 average and eight home runs. Ortiz wins Comeback Player of the Year honors. Molitor is Manager of the Year. And the next April, a few months after the Twins beat the Chicago Cubs four games to two in the World Series, a statue of Rocky is erected on the Target Field concourse.

Related Topics: MINNESOTA TWINS
Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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