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Minnesota Twins Season Recap

Minneosta Twins Season Recap
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The Minnesota Twins were expected to win the AL Central this season or at least battle the Chicago White Sox for the top spot. That’s not quite how it went down. Instead, the Twins started off the season 7-15 and found themselves unable to dig out of that hole. Byron Buxton was showing his full potential batting over .400 into May. Unfortunately, the all-too-common injury bug hit the Twins centerfielder a few days later. He returned in June to play three games before another injury sidelined him until late August.

Most of their regulars missed at least a bit of time but that can be said for most teams. Kenta Maeda struggled this season when he was healthy and never got on track. Free Agent acquisitions Hansel Robles, Alex Colome, and Matt Shoemaker combined for an awful 5.74 ERA and a 1.489 WHIP while allowing 29 bombs in just 169.1 innings.

Make sure to check out all of our other MLB Season Recaps.

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Key Info

Manager: Rocco Baldelli
Record: 73-89
Position: Last in the AL Central
Postseason: Missed Playoffs

Overall Performance

After making the playoffs three of the last four years, this season was certainly a disappointment. Minnesota’s hitting wasn’t horrible this season as they finished middle-of-the-pack in most offensive categories and also managed to hit the second-most HRs in the AL with 228. What really hurt Minnesota’s chances this year was the pitching. The staff as a whole had a 4.83 ERA which was second-worst in the AL behind the Baltimore Orioles. The starting rotation and the bullpen share the blame. After finishing third in the AL in ERA last year and fifth in 2019, the Twins arms didn’t show up in 2021.

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Heading toward the trading deadline, The Twins were out of the race and shipped off Nelson Cruz, Jose Berrios, J.A. Happ, and Robles for some nice pieces. The return included Austin Martin, Simeon Woods Richardson, and Joe Ryan. All three of those prospects should be up to help the big club next year.

Award Winners

Most Valuable Player of the Year: Jorge Polanco

Polanco wasn’t expected to play as big of a role with this team as he had in the past. With Josh Donaldson at third, Andrelton Simmons at shortstop, and up-and-coming Luis Arraez at second, the switch-hitting Polanco looked to be relegated to utilityman duties. He wound up playing in 152 games, most on the team, and had an excellent season. His 4.8 rWAR was the highest on the team and he excelled in the field with five DRS. He was the constant that the Twins knew they could put out there every day no matter where in the field he was stationed.

Starting Pitcher of the Year: Jose Berrios

Although he was traded at the deadline to the Toronto Blue Jays, Berrios started 20 games for the Twins. He led the staff in innings pitched (121.2), strikeouts (126), and ERA (3.48). Amidst bad seasons by everyone else in the rotation, the 27-year-old was a model of consistency as he has been for Minnesota since 2017. No one else on this staff really comes close.

Relief Pitcher of the Year: Taylor Rogers

Even though Rogers didn’t pitch in August or September due to a middle finger sprain, he was the best the Twins had this year. Caleb Thielbar and Tyler Duffey had solid seasons but Rogers chipped in nine saves and had an impressive 59 strikeouts to just eight walks in his 40.1 innings of work.

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Best Hitter of the Year: Jorge Polanco

Of the eight players on the team who played at least 85 games this season with the Twins, only Cruz (.907) and Josh Donaldson (.827) had a higher OPS than Polanco (.826). He also led the team in HRs (33), RBIs (98), runs (97), and SBs (11).

Best Fielder of the Year: Andrelton Simmons

This should come as no surprise to anyone especially since Buxton only played 61 games. Simmons had 14 DRS this season and was ahead of Buxton and Arraez who each had 10. Simmons also plays the second most important defensive position on the field. The 32-year-old is still getting it done with the glove and will go down as one of the best defensive shortstops ever.

Comeback Player of the Year: Jorge Polanco

Yep. Here is that guy again. Polanco broke out in 2019 with 22 bombs and an .841 OPS while garnering a few MVP votes and his first All-Star selection. Lest year hit everyone a little strange and Polanco saw his HR total plummet to just four in 226 plate appearances. His OPS also took a dip to a paltry .658. This year he showed that 2019 was the real Jorge and at just 28 years old, he should be raking for a while.

What’s Next?

After posting a .617 winning percentage over the last two seasons, the Twins hope this year was an outlier. There will be a lot of new faces next year as Minnesota will need to bring in some pitching as Happ and Berrios were traded and Michael Pineda is a free agent. The Twins do have some young stars ready to contribute next year as we saw Trevor Larnach, Alex Kirilloff, and Nick Gordon play significant games this season. The bottom line is pitching, both in the rotation and in the bullpen. Without a serious improvement on the mound, Baldelli will find himself a free agent by the All-Star break.


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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images

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