The Minnesota Twins have mostly sucked lately and when they haven’t sucked, they’ve been sidelined with positive COVID tests. Now, they sit at the bottom of the AL Central with a 6-11 record and a deflated fanbase to show for it.
There’s enough blame to go around, especially after Wednesday’s 10th inning debacle, where 2-out errors by Blankenhorn and Arraez meant a 9th loss in 10 games. That’s right. The one-time division favorites have tasted victory just ONE time in their last ten outings.
But, I come to provide some hope if you’re willing to look beyond the AL Central standings and deeper into this team’s cumulative 2021 numbers. Given we’re only 17 games into a 162-game season, I’d argue that standings really mean nothing at this point anyway. Other numbers can paint a much better picture.
The right numbers
Almost every baseball metric, both from the old and new school ways of thinking, have the Minnesota Twins pinned at, or above, average vs the rest of Major League Baseball. There’s been a lot said and a lot written about the struggling Minnesota bats… but if these numbers are “struggling” then I’m excited for whatever “not struggling” is.
The offense is what we thought it was. If, healthy, it’ll be one of the best in the league… but health is never guaranteed with this team. Even the pitching numbers, though, run near average across the board. Again, if this is what a bad Minnesota Twins team looks like then we’ll be fine in the long run. (Note: 1st is always league-best; 30th is always league-worst. – numbers via baseball reference)
History tells us that Miguel Sano is going to make a surge back to relevancy again this season. Hopefully his injury list stint will help right his ship. But, when you throw a hot Sano into a lineup that includes Buxton, Cruz and Donaldson… the home runs will start hitting themselves. The Twins are 21st in Major League Baseball at hitting the long ball. If healthy, there’s no chance that remains the case.
If the Minnesota lineup can start pumping a few more balls over the outfield fences, they’d see the rest of their statistical rankings improve and their offense go from “good” to “elite”. In reality, I’ll take Byron Buxton’s 2021 MVP start if it means the Twins have to begin 6-11. What a treasure he’s been to watch blossom.
Kenta Maeda isn’t going to pitch like shit every time out. That dude is a pro and he’ll bounce back to have a good season. While we wait for him, however, Jose Berrios is quietly off to the best start of his young career. He’s striking out 12.9 hitters per 9 innings, which is three more than the best K/9 season he’s posted (2020: 9.7).
On top of that, Berrios’ 3.00 ERA, 2.14 FIP, 0.952 WHIP, 132 ERA+, 0.4 HR/9 this season are all career bests. As I’ve mentioned a few times in this blog, the season is young, but those are very promising numbers after four starts.
If you think Jose Berrios is off to a good start, wait until you see the dude who’s scheduled to take the mound Saturday vs the Pirates. Michael Pineda is absolutely dominating hitters right now. He’s pitched 18 innings, surrendering just two earned runs and FIVE hits per nine innings. His ERA sits at 1.00 and his WHIP is a stellar 0.722.
So yes, as a whole, Twins’ pitching has been frustrating so far this season. But, a deeper look has me just as excited as it does concerned. If this is Jose Berrios’ breakout year, the sky is the limit for this pitching staff.
Don’t worry about the bullpen. As we get closer to the trade deadline, relief pitchers become cheaper than DOGE coins. Any flaws that can’t be fixed in-house can easily be fixed via import.
Did you know that baseball analytics measure “luck” now. That’s right, all of the time you spent searching for those four-leaf clovers were all for not. Baseball nerds bottled it up and threw it into a computer. I have no idea how it’s calculated or what it means but it looks bad for the Twins, who sit behind only the Yankees in “Luck Rating” at -3.25, according to teamrankings.com.
But I don’t have to know how to work scientific calculators to know what this means…
Look, the purpose of this blog wasn’t to paint a fair picture of how the Minnesota Twins are currently playing. I started this blog in search of positives. And honestly, there’s a lot more positivity and hope than what I expected when I started my deeper dive.
So, I’m going to take that light and run with it. I’m going to blindly yell, “THE TWINS WILL BE FINE” until they prove otherwise.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan