Annual Prediction: How many games will the Twins win in 2017?

Every season after Spring Training I make my annual prediction on how many games the Twins will win in the coming season, based on observations about how the team looked in Spring Training and sometimes math.  Earlier on in this blog, it was much more about math.  Interesting to look at those earlier projections now.

In 2008 I had them win the division with and 89-73 record.  That would have done it, but won 88 games, tied with the White Sox and lost the tie breaker.
In 2009, I had them winning the division with 90 games. They won the division with 87 games.
In 2010. I had them winning the division without predicting wins; and they did, but did not go far.
In 2011, I had them win the Central with 87 wins.  Then the wheels fell off and finished with 99 losses.
In 2012 for some reason, I did not bother to predict a record despite having an 3 part series analysis called "Can the Twins Rebound?  Part I, Part II, and Part III, but had them wining the Division. Yes, right :)
In 2013, I had them with an 83-79 record.  They went 66-96 and finished 4th in the Division.
In 2014, I had them in the 5th place with a 70-92 record.  I should had played the lottery or Vegas, because that was their exact record.
In 2015, I got some interesting vibes in Spring Training after Gardenhire was fired.  Here is what I wrote:  "This will not be another 90 loss team, unless something weird happens.  80-82 is the baseline.  Another factor:  I did get some 1987-like excitement there, like this might be a magic year (like that one.)  But I think that they are one year away.  So my prediction for 2015 is that the Twins will have the same record as their Pythagorean in 1987: 79-83.  But, yes, this year feels a lot like 1987, and you never know what is going to happen..."  I should had taken the over, since they finished second in the division with an 83-79 record (and not that far from the 85-77 record of the '87 team)
In 2016, I was enthusiastic and predicted an 87-75 record, but stressed that "The 2016 Twins will go as far as their pen lets them go", and that was not very far.

This in the tenth prediction in the 10 years of this blog, and goes like this:

Two particular things, as far as results go, killed the Twins in 2016:

a. Their record against their division rivals, 26-52
b. Their record in games that were decided with 2 or fewer runs, 26-47

The 2017 Twins will improve in both.  I feel that the division weakened considerably compared to 2016.  Also, during Spring Training there was an intensity and enthusiasm and motion in the dugout, including a lot of discussion, that bodes well for this team.   No more Miguel Sano at Right Field and similar nonsense.  Jorge Polanco has finally been freed, and the youngsters are a year older and hopefully better.  The bullpen and the rotation look better and part of it is addition by subtraction.  I expect big seasons from both Duffey in the pen and Mejia in the rotation.  Santana and Gibson will be solid, and Hughes and Santiago will be ok, with Berrios waiting in the wings.

How many games will they win?

In 2016 they went 4-15 against Detroit and Kansas City and 7-12 against the White Sox.  Also 9-10 against Cleveland, but the Indians are not the weak link here.

If they go 10-9 against each Division team not named Cleveland and repeat against Cleveland, this will be a +15 wins from 2016.    This will take them to 74 wins

Their 26-47 record in games decided by 2 or fewer runs were against the whole league.  If we exclude the AL Central teams, the Twins were 15-27 in games decided by 2 or fewer runs.  If they go .500 in those games, 21-21, (and all it might take is a better framing catcher) this will be a +6 wins from 2016.  This will take them to 80 wins.

One additional factor:   The Falvey Levine factor.  If the season goes the way I predict it, esp with the Twins playing a whole lot of games against the division early,  I feel that unlike their predecessor, Farvey and Levine will be players in the deadline and before, helping the team win another 4 games.

My prediction for the 2017 Minnesota Twins:   84-78, second in the AL Central and in the battle for the second AL Wild Card.  Run to get those post-season tickets.

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