Minnesota Twins Have Become a Strikeout Team, the Good Kind

Minnesota Twins vs Boston Red Sox, Chris Paddack
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Under Rocco Baldelli, the Minnesota Twins have become synonymous with the strikeout, and the vast majority of those years, it wasn’t the good kind. In 2024, though, it’s the Twins’ pitchers who are generating a ton of strikeouts, not the hitters, meaning they’re the good kind of strikeout team now.

Minnesota pitchers now lead the majors in strikeouts, and it has fueled them to an early season turnaround unlike any other. After starting the season with an abysmal 7-13 record, hitting coach David Popkins’ suddenly felt his seat heating up, until the Twins invited a parcel of meat into their clubhouse and quickly ripped off 12 wins in a row. Now, they’ve won 16 of their last 18 games

The Twins seem to have reinvigorated the clubhouse and now find themselves within sniffing distance (.5 games gack) of the top spot in the AL Central. Last season Minnesota’s starting rotation was a juggernaut, and while that hasn’t necessarily been the case this year, the process is starting to yield similar results.

Minnesota Twins Pitchers: The Strikeout Kings

Minnesota Twins pitchers
Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Although the Twins pitching staff is just middle of the pack, when it comes to team ERA (3.88), their 385 strikeouts lead all of baseball and it’s not that close. The 2nd place Phillies have rung up just 371 opponent batters.

President of baseball operations, Derek Falvey, was hired to construct a pitching pipeline similar to what he helped create in Cleveland, and at this point, it’s hard to argue against the success that we’ve seen, especially in the past year or two..

Fireballs and Benders

When the Twins have acquired pitchers in recent seasons there has been a general consensus they are interested in a couple of things regarding those arms. Dating back to Wes Johnson and continuing with Pete Maki, they are confident in an ability to add velocity.

The success stories there have been numerous, and players like Brock Stewart, Pablo Lopez, and Chris Paddack have all been benefactors of that. Of course Jhoan Duran continuing to pump fastballs by opposing hitters has also become must watch television.

Related: Rocco Baldelli Hates Facing ‘Openers’… but Minnesota Twins Win Again Anyway

They also love their sliders, and have adapted the sweeper. Griffin Jax owns one of the best in baseball, and guys like Jay Jackson and Steven Okert have been targeted because they already have bought into a like-minded process. The goal for Minnesota has been to avoid the opposition’s bats, and they are getting more whiffs because of it.

Rack Em Up, Sit Em Down

Nobody in baseball owns a double-digit K/9 for their pitching staff except for the Twins. At 10.3 K/9, they strike out almost an entire batter more than the second-place Phillies, and are well-above the second-place American League club, which happens to be the division rival Guardians. 

What’s more is that the Twins pitching staff simply doesn’t issue free passes. They have allowed the third-fewest walks in baseball, being bested by only the Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners. Striking out 2% more batters than their competition and checking in with the second-lowest walk rate, the way to beat Minnesota is not straightforward at all.

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It took a while for the lineup to come around, and the Twins found themselves scuffling the first time they played Cleveland, but if there’s a time the division should be put on notice, it certainly has arrived. The only hope now is for a way to watch the games.

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