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USA Today projects Twins to repeat as AL Central champs

No word if the Twins are projected to win a playoff series for the first time since 2002.
Byron Buxton, Jose Berrios, Eddie Rosario

The Minnesota Twins have been through their share of ups and downs this offseason, but it appears they've come out of it better prepared to contend in 2020. In their early predictions that were released on Monday, USA Today projects the Twins to repeat as American League Central champions.

The projection, which consisted of a six-writer panel, has the Twins winning 94 games, a seven victory drop from their 2019 season total and finishing comfortably above the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox.

Providing the rationale for the panel's pick was the addition of Josh Donaldson, who USA Today stated could provide "an MVP presence" in the Minnesota lineup. Strangely enough, the article provided no complements about the starting rotation, which currently sits in flux as the reported blockbuster trade that would sent right-hander Kenta Maeda to Minnesota remains stalled. 

As much as fans would like to hear the early prognostication of another division title, the real goal for the Twins won't become attainable until October. The Twins have lost an MLB record 15 straight playoff games since defeating the Yankees in Game 1 of the 2003 ALDS and haven't won a playoff series since dispatching the Oakland Athletics in five games during the 2002 ALDS. 

The projection did not include predictions for the playoffs, which would have the Twins avoiding the New York Yankees, but matched up with the Houston Astros in the ALDS.

Can the Twins counter a rotation with Justin Verlander and Zack Grienke by trotting out Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi, or perhaps Rich Hill, Michael Pineda, Jhoulys Chacin or Maeda? That remains to be seen, but with the season coming closer than you think, the thought of a return to the postseason might be enough to warm the souls of Twins fans...for now.

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