Minnesota Twins Last Season Performance
The Minnesota Twins entered 2021 with high expectations coming off of their postseason appearance in 2020. But the Twins labored throughout the 2021 campaign and ended up finishing last in the American League Central with a 73-89 record.
This came as a major surprise as Minnesota still featured a roster with plenty of talent. But it was a number of injuries and underperformances that led to their demise.
Superstar outfielder Byron Buxton started off the season with a bang. He combined an impressive batting average, power, speed, and elite defense to establish himself as a threat to kick off the campaign. But Buxton got injured in May and went on to miss various chunks of time throughout the year with injuries.
The bullpen failed to ever get going as well. Despite some strong arms already on the roster and a few offseason acquisitions, Minnesota’s bullpen consistently coughed up leads late in games.
The starting rotation did not fare much better.
Starting pitcher Kenta Maeda never found his footing during the year, and Jose Berrios was dealt to Toronto at the trade deadline.
Between the starting rotation and the bullpen, the Twins posted the second worst team ERA in the American League.
Offensively, superstar designated hitter Nelson Cruz was traded to Tampa Bay during the season.
The main bright spot for Minnesota was infielder Jorge Polanco who finished the year with 33 home runs and 98 RBI’s while playing productive defense between second base and shortstop. The power was a pleasant surprise for the Twins, and Polanco will either factor into Minnesota’s success in 2022 or could be a strong trade candidate.
The Twins are hopeful they can improve upon last year’s underwhelming performance.
It was truly remarkable to see Minnesota become sellers at the trade deadline following their overall success in 2019 and 2020. They were one of the biggest disappointments of the 2021 MLB campaign without question.
Minnesota Twins Off Season Changes
Trevor Larnach is a young prospect in the organization who got his first taste of big league action last season. The 24 year old hit seven home runs and posted a .223/.322/.350 slash line in limited action. It will be interesting to see if he opens up the 2022 season on the big league roster.
Starting pitcher Michael Pineda and shortstop Andrelton Simmons entered free agency this offseason. Pineda and Simmons both dealt with struggles and injuries and a fresh start is likely the best option for both players.
Fan favorite and versatile infielder/catcher Willians Astudillo entered free agency as well.
The Twins added a couple of veteran pitchers in Dylan Bundy and Jharel Cotton to add pitching depth to the roster. Neither was sharp in 2021 but they are pitchers who have flashed signs of potential in the past.
Finally, Minnesota signed three international prospects within the MLB Top International Prospects List via MLB.com. Their marquee signing was outfielder Yasser Mercedes who is the number 17 overall prospect according to the list.
Minnesota Twins Key Additions
The most notable signing Minnesota has made during the 2021-2022 offseason stems from the in-house variety.
Byron Buxton, who was mentioned in plenty of trade rumors during the 2021 trade deadline, was signed to a seven year extension with the team. The Twins are hoping Buxton can avoid injury and reach his full potential while leading the Twins to postseasons in the future.
Buxton is a five-tool player when he is healthy. But he has only played in more than 100 games once during the course of his seven year career which came back in 2017. He was limited to just 61 games in 2021 while sporting a .306/.358/.647 slash line with 19 home runs and nine stolen bases.
The entire baseball community has their fingers crossed in hopes of a healthy season for Buxton in 2022.
RHP Dylan Bundy was signed to a one-year contract with a club option for 2023. Bundy was once considered a top tier prospect in the Baltimore Orioles organization. However, he never lived up to his ceiling with the Orioles.
But he found a second life with Angeles in 2020. He finished the season with a 3.29 ERA and even earned some Cy Young votes. But he fell off in a major way during the 2021 season, as he posted a 6.06 ERA and a 2-9 record.
Minnesota is hoping Bundy can return to his 2020 form on the mound.
The team made a few other minor additions, but those were the ones that stood out.
Minnesota Twins Key Subtractions
Michael Pineda pitched well in limited action during 2021. He posted a 3.62 ERA and 88 strikeouts in just 22 games. But the 33 year old is on the open market and Minnesota is unlikely to re-sign him.
Pineda could be a good addition for a contending team.
Andrelton Simmons hit between .260 and .300 for five straight seasons during his time in Anaheim with Angels, which spanned from 2016-2020. The Twins were hopeful that he could be a key contributor at shortstop for the team in 2021 when they inked him to a deal prior to last year.
But Simmons labored and hit just .223 in 131 games during the 2021 campaign. While he was still a quality defender at a premium position, the Twins are seemingly prepared to move on as Simmons is currently a free agent as of this article’s writing.
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Minnesota Twins Head Coach Analysis
Head coach Rocco Baldelli has managed the team for three seasons.
He impressed early on during his Twins tenure, as Baldelli led Minnesota to a 101-61 finish which was good for first place in the AL Central. Minnesota would go on to be defeated in the ALDS.
The Twins continued to play well in Baldelli’s sophomore season as manager, as they won the division during the shortened 2020 campaign. But they were once again taken down in the postseason.
But the train went off the tracks in 2021 as Minnesota stumbled to a last finish in the Central with their 73-89 finish.
Nonetheless, Baldelli has impressed for the most part in Minnesota. Last season’s struggles were mainly out of his control.
And Baldelli receiving the opportunity to manage the Twins truly is a heartwarming story as he was once regarded as one of the top prospects in baseball before injuries derailed his career. He is now receiving a second chance in the big leagues, even if it is as a manager.
He will look to right the ship in 2022.
Minnesota Twins Injured Players at the beginning of the season
Injuries unfortunately told the story of the 2021 season in Minnesota. But the team will look to bounce back and keep their key players on the field during the 2022 baseball season. Here are a few players who have recently dealt with serious injuries and are worth keeping an eye on as we inch closer to the start of the year.
Starting pitcher Kenta Maeda is expected to be out until June of 2022 with an elbow injury. The right-hander struggled with a 4.66 ERA in 2021, but perhaps his elbow was the main reason for his underperformance. He received season-ending Tommy John surgery in September of last year and June may be an optimistic timetable for his return.
Pitchers Randy Dobnak and Taylor Rogers both missed the end of last year with finger injuries. Dobnak was diagnosed with a right middle finger strain while Rogers dealt with a left middle finger sprain. With both injuries on each pitcher’s throwing hands, these are ailments that could linger into the following season.
Recent free-agent signee Dylan Bundy is probable for the beginning of the season as he dealt with a shoulder strain during the end of last year. He is expected to recover and be ready to roll, but this ailment is something to keep tabs on.
Minnesota Twins Prediction for 2022 Season
There is good news and bad news when it comes to looking at the Minnesota Twins 2022 season.
The good news is that they play in one of the weaker divisions in baseball.
Only the Chicago White Sox are expected to make a legitimate run at the postseason. While Cleveland could surprise some people, and Kansas City and Detroit are getting closer to being competitive as they enter the final stages of rebuilding, the Twins could make some noise in the American League Central.
But they will need to beat the teams within their division. If they can finish with a winning record in the AL Central we could see Minnesota make a sneaky postseason run.
The bad news is that their roster is lackluster in terms of quality pitching depth.
The pitching rotation fails to feature even one premier starter. Right now, the role of ace would likely fall to either Dyland Bundy, Joe Ryan, Randy Dobnak, or someone else as Kenta Maeda recovers from Tommy John surgery. Their starting pitching rotation could be a mess unless they make some late offseason moves once the lockout officially ends.
The bullpen is a similar story. Taylor Rogers headlines an underwhelming relief corpse. Pitchers such as Tyler Duffey and Jorge Alcala have the stuff to be successful, but they will need to find consistency if they want to post solid seasons.
While the bullpen may improve somewhat in 2022, there are no signs to indicate they will be all that much better.
On the other hand, the Twins still possess a decent offense.
With Byron Buxton, Josh Donaldson, Jorge Polanco, Miguel Sano, Max Kepler, and Alex Kiriloff all still projected to be in the lineup, Minnesota might deliver a strong season from an offensive standpoint.
But you need pitching to be successful. The Twins currently don’t have access to quality arms which will make winning difficult for them in 2022. Although I believe they will improve upon their last-place finish in the AL Central from a season ago, third place is likely their ceiling barring an unforeseen circumstance. Check their MLB Odds for this season.
Minnesota Twins Final Thoughts
Any team is liable to upset odds and predictions. The San Francisco Giants were projected to finish no better than third in the National League West last year and they ended up taking down the Dodgers and winning the division while posting the best record in the league.
And the Twins don’t play in a division with loaded teams like Los Angeles and the San Diego Padres. Their path to winning will be easier than San Francisco.
But this is a Minnesota Twins team with plenty of question marks. Can they add any more starting pitching or relief help? Will third baseman Josh Donaldson rebound from an overall down season?
However, with Byron Buxton in the fold for the long term, the Twins could build a dynasty in the near future. But for now, expect them to finish anywhere from fifth to third place in the AL Central. Check out their MLB Lines for the season.