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Minnesota Twins Betting – If Healthy, The Twins Can Make Noise In The AL Central

Posted by Dale “Skip” Lalonde on 4/3/2012 5:48:47 PM

No team’s online betting chances were hampered by injuries last season as much as Minnesota, who lost two of the best players in the game at their position to injuries for most of the season. They’re back in 2012, and if they can stay on the field and out of the trainer’s room, Minnesota is a solid value bet to at least win the American League Central.

Lineup

The Twins were doomed by injuries last season, particularly to their former American League MVPs, first baseman Justin Morneau and catcher Joe Mauer, who combined to miss 163 games in 2011. Throw in center-fielder Denard Span and you’d be hard-pressed to find a team that was hit with injuries like the Twins, who had one of the worst seasons in their long history. All three have come through spring training without any injuries, but Minnesota fans will be holding their breath and their MLB betting odds depends on that trio’s ability to stay on the field. Michael Cuddyer is gone to Colorado, which takes away the Twins’ home-run leader in 2011, Jason Kubel went to Arizona and Jim Thome is in Philadelphia, so it is especially important that they stay on the field. Third baseman Danny Valencia is expected to step up and take some of the pressure off the top trio, and the Twins will likely rotate Mauer and fellow catcher Ryan Doumit in the designated-hitter position.

The bench isn’t that great, although 24-year-old Chris Parmalee showed some promise last season. Minnesota looks to be a very top-heavy team and that could backfire if their stars hit the disabled list again, which is a good possibility, given their recent luck.

Pitching

Minnesota’s pitchers aren’t off to a good start as Scott Baker will miss his first start of the season with an elbow problem, which means more pressure on Carl Pavano. Nick Blackburn and Francisco Liriano were up and down all season and you never know what you’re going to get from either starter, while Liam Hendriks is only 23 years old and Jason Marquis joins the rotation from Washington. The Minnesota pitching staff was awful last season, coming in 29th in ERA and they were 22nd in quality starts, which put pressure on a bullpen that wasn’t all that good to begin with. The starters will have to do a better job of going later into games to boost the Twins’ MLB betting chances.

The Twins were bitten by the news that Joel Zumaya would be out for the season, which some expected anyway, but it is still a blow to the bullpen. Matt Capps will be the full-time closer, while Matt Maloney and Glen Perkins figure to be the top setup men for the Twins. The bullpen, on paper, looks to be in decent shape, but that’s on paper and it’s a different ball game when you get on the field. Minnesota’s bullpen could be fine if they’re not overextended as they were last year.

Intangibles

Manager Ron Gardenhire is one of the best in the business, but even he couldn’t do anything about all the injuries that hit the Twins’ lineup last season. He is an excellent in-game manager and makes adjustments as well as anyone, but you can only do so much when your best players are on the shelf for a long time and that’s what happened last season. Look for Gardenhire to come back refocused and ready to go, and if his lineup is even half-decent, the Twins will be in the running for the playoffs.

Mauer and Morneau are the leaders of this team and they should be, but they would be much more effective if they could stay on the field. You can only lead with your words so much; you have to be able to show that you’ll get your hands dirty, which both of these players will do, but they were hurt last season. Still, Minnesota has a solid clubhouse where everyone knows their role.

How It Will Play Out

MLB betting odds have the Twins at +1400 to win the American League Central, +4200 to take the pennant and +8000 to win the World Series, which is definitely out of their reach, and the pennant probably is as well. They’re longshots to take the division, but that all changes if Mauer and Morneau can stay healthy for most of the season because the Central isn’t that deep. Kansas City is behind Detroit in the odds rankings and really, does anyone trust the Royals? A healthy Minnesota team gives the Tigers a run for their money and their health is the entire key to their sports betting fortunes in 2012.

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