The 2021 Minnesota Twins have big goals in mind. It’s going to be quite an interesting race at the top of the American League Central, and expectations are there that the Twins will compete.
The Minnesota Twins were able to capture their second straight AL Central division title in 2020. After posting an impressive 101-61 record in 2019, the Twins went 36-24 last year before falling to the Houston Astros in the AL Wild Card. Minnesota will look to win their third straight title in manager Rocco Baldelli’s third season.
The Twins were busy this offseason, bolstering their pitching staff and their lineup.Shortstop Andrelton Simmons was the most significant signing. Simmons has been one of the best defensive players in the league over the past decade. He has four Gold Glove awards, and he won the 2013 Platinum Glove representing the best player in the NL. Re-signing Nelson Cruz was huge, as his presence in the middle of the lineup is still imposing. The Twins revamped the back end of their rotation by signing journeyman J.A. Happ, a tremendous fourth starter. . Former Angels pitcher Matt Shoemaker will look to revamp his career with the Twins after years of injuries. After declining to resign Sergio Romo, former All-Star Alex Colome was brought over from the division rival Chicago White Sox to close, and that could prove to be an upgrade.
Minnesota will feel the loss of starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi, who had a career year in 2019, posting a 15-7 record with a 3.51 ERA. Veteran left-hander Rich Hill also moved on and signed with the Rays.The Twins essentially replaced that loss with a carbon copy.The transition from Hill to Happ should be seamless, and if anything, Happ could be a more reliable option for Baldelli.
The Twins enter 2021 with a strong rotation, headed by Kenta Maeda. In his first year over from the Dodgers, Maeda went 6-1 with a 2.70 ERA. Jose Berrios will slot in atop the rotation with Maeda, giving the Twins a perfect tandem. Berrios posted his fourth straight winning season in Minnesota, going 5-4 after posting a 14-8 record in 2019.
Michael Pineda has been solid through his first two seasons in Minnesota, posting a 17-5 record and a 3.68 ERA.The Twins brought in former All-Star Happ to replace Hill. Shoemaker will round out the rotation. Injuries have taken a toll and derailed Shoemaker’s career after he burst onto the scene with a 16-4 record as a rookie.
Minnesota returns a lineup with loads of power.The 16-year veteran Nelson Cruz and fellow vet Josh Donaldson have been two of the plate’s best power threats over the past decade. Cruz is still an imposing presence in the middle of the lineup, and he’s hit 57 homers in his two seasons with the Twins. Injuries ended a good five-year stretch for Donaldson, but his 43 homers over the previous two years is a good sign. Miguel Sano can come into his own after hitting 34 homers in 2019, he’ll look to record his first 100 RBI season. Infielder Jorge Polanco had a career-high 22 home runs in 2019, while Max Kepler hit 36 dingers of his own.There’s power behind the plate, as third-year catcher Mitch Garver broke out with 31 homers in 2019. Defensive studs Byron Buxton and Simmons will slot in atop the lineup.
Three Key Pieces
Kenta Maeda had an impressive first season in Minnesota, and he’ll need to build on that as the ace of the rotation. After such an impressive 2019 season, this could be Miguel Sanu’s breakout season. Hitting in such a power-happy lineup, the opportunities will be there. With the abundance of power hitting the Twins have, second starter Jose Berrios comes in as the third vital piece. Pitching has long been the Twins Achilles’ heel, but with strong play for him and Maeda, and it could turn out to be a strength this season.
Playing in one of the toughest divisionl, Minnesota’s season series with the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox will be ones to watch. A late-season interleague back-to-back with the Chicago Cubs should be interesting, too, with both teams vying for a playoff spot.
According to BetUs.com, the Twins have solid to win the World Series, as their current moneyline sits at +1800. In terms of regular-season wins, BetUs.com has the over/under at 89.5 games for the Minnesota Twins.