Moller: What is wrong with the Twins?
Nate Moller | Wednesday, August 25, 2021
In a previous sports authority I wrote before the start of the MLB season, I picked the Minnesota Twins to make the World Series. With the Twins currently sitting in the cellar of the American League Central, holding one of the worst records in baseball, I have to discuss what went wrong for them to be the most disappointing team in baseball this year.
After a week of baseball, the Twins had a record of 5-2 and appeared to be one of the better teams in baseball. Center fielder Byron Buxton was leading the way for the Twins’ on offense, Jose Berrios looked spectacular in his first start, and Nelson Cruz looked to be ageless once again. Unfortunately for the Twins, that first week of the season was the high point, as the team went on to lose their next five games and failed to win another series until the end of May.
Injuries were one of the main reasons the Twins have had such a disappointing year. Although Buxton has been spectacular while on the field this year, he has missed most of the season with various injuries. It looked like Buxton was set to contend for AL MVP before all of his injuries, and the Twins haven’t found a way to replace his outstanding defense in centerfield, speed on the base paths, or hitting.
There were plenty of other injuries and Covid related absences that hurt the Twins this year as well. It started when Josh Donaldson missed the first week of the season after injuring himself in the first game. It only got worse when the Twins lost two more starters with Andrelton Simmons and Max Kepler both testing positive for Covid in mid-April. Kepler then missed further time for an injury and hasn’t been seeing the ball well all year. It continued to get worse for the Twins with Luis Arraez missing a chunk of time this summer. Arraez is currently batting well over .300 and his time away from the team decimated the Twins. Injuries to Alex Kiriloff, Kenta Maeda, Michael Pineda, and Taylor Rogers also added to the Twins list of notable injuries.
Another huge issue for the Twins has been the pitching staff. Kenta Maeda has been the most disappointing of all the Twins pitchers this season with an ERA in the mid 4s this year despite having an ERA well under three last year. The offseason additions of J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker were busts as well with ERAs of 6.77 and 8.06 respectively. In the bullpen, Alex Colome has been the biggest disappointment with an atrocious ERA of 4.24. Colome has had an ERA under three in his past three seasons with an outstanding ERA under one last year.
Another huge issue for the Twins has been their fielding. The Twins are currently averaging an astounding 0.70 errors per game, which is the worst in the MLB. This is arguably the Twins biggest surprise, as they averaged only 0.35 errors per game in 2020, which was the best in baseball. This downfall was surprising in part too because the Twins added shortstop Andrelton Simmons in the offseason because of his fielding ability. While there is no excuse for the amount of errors this team has made this year, I think it comes down to injuries and inexperience at different positions. With Byron Buxton and Max Kepler injured at one point, the Twins were forced to turn to players that had basically no centerfield experience in the Majors.
Pretty much everything that could have gone wrong for the Twins this year has. I clearly overestimated the abilities of this team at the beginning of the season, but there were a lot of unlucky circumstances for this team that led to its rapid and unexpected downfall. If there is any bright side to these injuries, the Twins have been able to give young players lots of experience and add some depth to their farm system at the trade deadline. There are a handful of young players who have shown promise this year, which is a good sign for a fast rebuild. To quote the famous Minnesota sports motto: “There is always next year.”