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Ranking What Went Wrong with the 2021 Twins

Not much went right for the Twins during the 2021 campaign. Injuries and pitching issues were just some of the problems that pushed the Twins to the bottom of the AL Central. So, what went wrong with the 2021 Twins?

When teams are winning, it can be hard to identify flaws. On the other hand, organizational issues can come to the top when teams are marred in a losing season. Below is a ranking of the top three things that went wrong for the 2021 Twins. 

3. Injuries
Byron Buxton shot out of the gates and played at an MVP level before injuries sidelined him for most of the season. Kenta Maeda looked to build off a terrific 2020 campaign before learning that he needed Tommy John surgery. Alex Kirilloff was impressive in his rookie campaign before wrist surgery ended his season. Taylor Rogers was nearly traded at the deadline before a finger injury put him on the bench. Randy Dobnak signed a big off-season contract before getting wrapped up in the worst season of his career

These are just some of the injuries that pushed the team’s depth to the limits. At one point during the year, the Twins were on the sixth option in center field. No teams plan for their sixth center field option to play an impactful role. Every team has injuries, but the Twins didn’t have the depth to cover up some of their holes this season.

 2. The Bullpen
Minnesota saw many key bullpen pieces leave last winter, which meant the team would need to search for replacements. Alex Colome and Hansel Robles arrived as late-inning options, but both struggled throughout parts of the season. Minnesota also brought in plenty of non-rostered arms to try and find the next Matt Wisler. None of those players significantly impacted the club, and the Twins used over 30 different relief pitchers in 2021. 

Looking back to Opening Day, there were issues from the start. Colome posted an 8.31 ERA in nine April appearances while opponents posted a .952 OPS. It was clear from the start that Dobnak was not cut out for his Opening Day role because the Twins didn’t find themselves in many situations where they needed a long-man. Cody Stashak suffered a back injury and hasn’t pitched since May. The list can continue with other players on the 60-day IL, but those were just some of the issues with the Opening Day bullpen.

 1. Rotational depth
As the old adage goes, a team can never have too much pitching. J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker came in to add depth to the starting rotation, but neither of these players worked out the way the team envisioned. Kenta Maeda and Michael Pineda spent significant time on the IL, and other depth starters like Lewis Thorpe, Devin Smeltzer, Dobnak, and Stashak were already injured. This forced the team to keep trotting out Happ and Shoemaker even though they were ineffective.  

Projections also had Minnesota’s top two pitching prospects, Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic, ready to join the rotation. Neither of them has made their debut, and there is a chance Duran will need surgery on his elbow. At the deadline, the Twins added multiple pitching prospects, and other pitchers have gotten big-league starting experience in the second half. This experience helps prepare for the future, but the 2022 rotation is still in flux. 

How would you rank these issues from 2021? What would you add to the list? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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I would say very poor bullpen early played a huge role.  So many games were lost early in the season with late inning blow ups.  I put little stock in complaining about injuries, every team deals with them.  Yes, going through like 10 OF options is not common so the fact so many injuries happened in one position does tax the depth a ton.  The pitching injuries you always expect and need to have the depth, we did not have that depth. 

It is hard to point to any one or even three things that blew up the season because it was different things at different times. 

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I think our batting order let us down and in some real key situations and while they're not the biggest problem the first half of the season we constantly wrote about leaving runners in scoring position and the lack of hitting in key situations.

Sano looks good right now but half the season he was absent, Larnach looked great but once he was challenged by Major League pitching he didn't know what to do and obviously our coaches didn't know how to help him. Simmons is not as good as his Fielding rating and his hitting is horrible. Arraez it's supposed to challenge for the batting title. He hasn't and he has had some prolonged hitless periods. 

Kepler should not have batted lead off for second for all the games that the manager wanted him on top of the lineup.

I am finding myself less and less enamored with the manager and the lead coaches. Too many things happened that I expected them to begin to fix, but it never happened. I certainly don't like pulling the pitchers as early as they have the starting pitchers going deeper helps a bullpen that is struggling. 



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Poor fundamentals was a big part of this season’s downfall. 

They played like poop in the preseason and it continued right on into the regular season. 

Regardless if everything else goes right  re injuries, decent starts, etc., it’s hard to win consistently if the team plays poor fundamentals baseball. 

IMO, that’s on Rocco and the staff. And, as the team probably will be getting younger going forward, I’m questioning if Rocco is the right manager to lead this team in 2022 and beyond. 

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Injuries didn't hurt the Twins nearly as much as other teams. There were 2 keys.

  1. The front office not addressing the loss of what Odorizzi was expected to be in 2020 and relying upon Maeda to be an Ace. This led to the front office adding back end "depth" free agent starters instead of #1-2 starters to the top of the rotation.
  2. The front office thinking you can just plug-n-play relief staff. The front office basically blew up the bullpen and it didn't work. I've seen this happen before with the Twins.

The first seems like a more glaring issue. Relief arms are pretty ethereal, but losing May was a big deal IMHO.


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#1 is the rotation. Combination of injuries and ineffectiveness was brutal here, because not only did you have that hammer on Happ & Shoemaker (ineffective), Pineda & Maeda (injured), but it also hit the depth: Dobnak & Thorpe (injured & ineffective), Duran & Winder (injured), etc. While some of it was predictable (Pineda should never be predicted to get through a full season healthy, and Shoemaker had enough issues coming in to not be counted upon) having so many hit in sequence was crushing.

#2 was the early implosion of the bullpen. Cost a bunch of wins and really changed the perception of the team and what it was capable of. Took way too long to find some reasonably reliable options (note: the bullpen has been fine recently, but it hasn't been consistent), but unfortunately the small sample sizes on bullpen innings and the fungibility of relief arms makes this one of those things that happens. Taylor Rogers injury was bad timing, but didn't meaningfully impact the season. One of the biggest issues with this bullpen is the walk rate; too many guys with BB/9 rates over 3 and 4, something that was not a problem in 2019 (or even really in 2020). The bullpen WHIP doesn't have a lot of guys who are down around 1.0-1.1 this season.

#3 is the injuries in the lineup. yes, every team should expect to have some, but the Twins injuries were definitely concentrated in the OF and it really hurt their depth. The infield has been pretty healthy except at catcher; Donaldson, Simmons, Polanco, and Sano are all going to finish above 125 games played and could easily clear 130 (if Donaldson and Simmons don't it'll be because the team gave meaningless games for them to younger players), which isn't bad. But the OF isn't going to have a single player make 125 games, and only 1 guy clear 100. Look at the standings: most of the winning teams had 1-2 OF playing 130-140 and 2-3 playing 100+.


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Number 1 is the off season decisions by the FO......almost none of them were right. From Simmons (the worst Twin by fWAR this year) to the pitchers they brought in, almost all the decisions didn't work.

That's a big contrast from other years.......and not at all what any system projected. Hoping this off season is much, much, better.

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The wait and see with rest will probably mean, I am betting, that Rogers, Duran, Dobnak and others will be out for all of next year or much of it when the fingers and arms finally get the repair surgeries that were delayed and took them out for much of this year. I hope not, but I fear that will be the case. 

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Fundamentals? This is a horrible team fundamentally. Fundamentals won’t overcome poor talent, but they will help make a average team very difficult to beat. 

Talent? Is it possible that fans, and media overestimated this group. My thought on this is somewhat driven by constant references to 2019, a year of career years for some on this roster. Also, a year where the roster and the baseball in use made a perfect match. This allowed a very productive offense to cover up some inherent flaws in the roster, such as the aforementioned fundamentals, defense, and an overall lack of pitching talent. 

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6 hours ago, bean5302 said:

The front office not addressing the loss of what Odorizzi was expected to be in 2020 and relying upon Maeda to be an Ace. This led to the front office adding back end "depth" free agent starters instead of #1-2 starters to the top of the rotation.

The same could be said for the loss of Trevor May.

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After watching the Twins get nine runners on base with only six outs and score only two runs tonight, I would like to submit offensive inefficiency as something that went wrong. Considering the team OPS, they should have scored more runs, part of that is a lack of team speed and part of that might be lack of execution. 

My thought was that the team was snakebit—they made crucial mistakes at the worst possible times and were dreadful in game situations, extra innings and shortened doubleheaders. Some of those things have regressed to the mean, but the damage was done. 

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52 minutes ago, joefish said:

Excessive shifting creates the need for versatile players. Putting guys out of their strength positions. 

I want specialists playing in their best positions. Versatility is over rated, IMHO.

I'm curious who you think is playing out of position. 

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