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Twins Player Rankings 2021


Minnesota Twins Top 20 Players 2021

As we all know, that was one of the most disappointing Twins seasons in a while. Sure, it wasn’t one of our worst seasons record wise, but there were some high hopes for this squad after winning back-to-back AL Central titles. And hey, maybe we could’ve even won a playoff game. Nonetheless, there were some bright spots on this team that went 73-89 and finished last in the division. There were also some on the opposite end of the spectrum. I’m here to rank the top 20 Twins performers, and I’m ranking the worst 5 performers as well to get some things off of my chest. 

 

1. Jorge Polanco (Twins MVP)

This is obviously a very easy pick as Polanco is a consensus MVP of this horrid Twins season. Having the best year of his career by far, slashing (.269/.323/.503) with 33 home runs and a 125 OPS+. Abreakout season for Polanco, which makes the 2019 extension look really good.

2. Josh Donaldson

There’s been many people frustrated with Donaldson’s play over his two years with the Twins. I don’t really understand it, he had a very solid year. Obviously, he won’t be 2015 MVP Donaldson anymore which is what it seemed like people were expecting when he was signed. He played in 135 games this year, which is more than I was expecting him to play in. He had a 127 OPS+ and was really the motivational leader throughout the year, even with the team struggling. Also, his feud with the White Sox was awesome and made for some entertainment in a disappointing year.

 

3. Jose Berrios

He would probably be ranked second if he wasn’t traded at the deadline. He led the Twins in innings pitched, even with the trade. He pitched to a 3.48 ERA with the Twins and it was really exciting to see him be consistent all year. In past seasons he seemed to have dropped off towards the second half, but this year actually pitched better late in the season. It sucked to see him go, but was probably the optimistic part of the Twins season with the trade haul of Austin Martin and Simeon Woods-Richardson for him. 

4. Byron Buxton 

Man, I can’t wait for the season that Buxton is healthy. In 61 games, he hit 19 home runs (a career high), a 1.005 OPS, and actually lead the team in fWAR. He was on pace for a 10+ WAR season if he would’ve stayed healthy. Hey Pohlad’s, please pay him whatever he wants. 

5. Nelson Cruz

When is Nellie going to age? There were maybe signs of that once he was traded to the Rays, but he still overachieved while with the Twins. He had an OPS of .907 and hit 19 home runs as a Twin. Seems like another great trade that was made for a guy that showed a lot of promise at the end of this year. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Nelson back with the Twins in 2022. 

6. Taylor Rogers

Rogers is one of the most consistent and most underrated relievers in baseball, especially from the left side. He was by far the best Twins reliever this year and still seems to be getting unlucky. He had a 3.35 ERA with a 2.13 FIP. He also had a 35.5% strikeout rate. Just a very good reliever. 

7. Caleb Thielbar

It’s pretty much a toss up for the second best reliever this year between Thielbar and Duffey, but I think Thielbar overachieved expectations while Duffey had a slight down year. Thielbar was third in appearances and pitched to a 3.23 ERA with a 28.9% strikeout rate. He came into a lot of tough situations to face really good lefty hitters, and looked really good a lot of times. Also  just an amazing story after taking a five year break, coming back with an entirely new approach. 

8. Tyler Duffey

Duffey with very similar stats to Thielbar, but definitely had a down year from the short 60 game season. His velocity was down this year which ultimately led to a higher ERA, lower strikeout rate, and just not as good a year. He still battled very well and ate up a lot of late innings this year. I also don’t stand by Duffey for getting mad about Yermin’s 3-0 homerun. 

9. Mitch Garver

I truly believe that when healthy Garver is one of the best hitting catchers in baseball. He only played in 68 games this season though, and did struggle early in the year. He did end with a 140 OPS+, a .517 SLG and 13 home runs in an injury riddled season. Definitely saw some signs of 2019 Garv late in the season which would be great to see next year. 

10. Miguel Sano

A prototypical Sano season where he starts off slow and tries to find his timing at the plate, and once he figures it out it is scary for opposing pitchers. He finished with 30 home runs and a 113 OPS+. It would be so much fun to see Sano locked in from April for an entire season. 

11. Michael Pineda

Big Mike is one of the most consistent pitchers the Twins have ever had. He battled the injury bug like many Twins this year, but when healthy he was really solid. In his 3 seasons with the Twins, he has a 3.67 ERA. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff or anything really special, but he just gets outs and eats innings. He will always be a really solid 3 or 4 guy in the rotation. 

12. Luis Arraez

A slightly disappointing season for a guy who has now been one of the favorites to win the batting title for the past few years. I still believe he can be that guy. His walk rate was a career high this year though, and still hit .294 (yes I just used a batting average). Arraez is a classic batting average guy, and he is due for a batting title or two at some point in his career. 

13. Bailey Ober 

We saw some good signs of future pitching this year between Ober and Ryan. Ober pitched 92.1 innings this year and pitched some really good games as a rookie. I could definitely see him being a back end of the rotation guy for years to come, and will continue to develop as the years go by. 

14. Kenta Maeda

Kenta was obviously dealing with some injury all year which was really unfortunate to see. He battled as much as he could and was able to throw 106.1 innings. Hopefully King Kenta can come back better than ever. 

15. Jorge Alcala

Alcala is a very interesting pitcher. He obviously has the velo and the stuff to be really good. Just waiting on him to put it all together. 

16. Alex Kirilloff 

Tough to see more injuries for Kirilloff. Would love to see him get a full season under his belt because he has shown some really good signs at the plate. 

17. Alex Colome

Colome obviously had a very tough April and he became a meme because of it. Never want to become a meme as a reliever. But he came back really well after the first month, and was pretty solid for the rest of the year.

18. Max Kepler

Another disappointing season for Kepler at the plate with a .719 OPS. What happened to 2019 Kepler? Still had a great season defensively.

19. Hansel Robles

Hansel was probably the most inconsistent player on the Twins this year. It seemed like he was either going to have a really good outing or really bad, not much in between. He had the highest walk rate on the team, but really found his velo as the year went on. And he might end up having the best season of anyone on this list with the Red Sox on the chase for the World Series. 

20. Nick Gordon

Gordon came in this year and showed some signs of being a decent utility player in the future. He was able to go on a solid hot streak, and add a speed threat to a not very quick team. It was also nice to see that we have someone that can play center field well when Buxton is injured. 


 

Now it’s time to have some fun. After a horrible Twins season that made me want to rip my hair out, yell at my TV, and just wonder why many times, I need to let some things go. There were some truly terrible seasons from some guys this season. I wish them all best of luck for the rest of their career, but I would rather them never wear a Twins uniform again. Rounding out the worst five Twins of the 2021 season:

 

5. Randy Dobnak

I hate to have Dobnak on this list because I’m a big fan of the guy and his story. But he pitched to a 7.64 ERA, and by far gave up 11 home runs in just 50.1 innings. I hope he is back to his 2020 form next season, but it was certainly a tough one for the Dobber. 

4. Jake Cave

For someone that most people had penciled in as the best 4th outfielder in baseball, Cave had a horrendous season. He hit .189 which was good for a 50 OPS+. He led the team in strikeout rate. I still love the salt and pepper beard though. 

3. J.A. Happ 

One of the big offseason acquisitions this year, Happ pitched to a 6.77 ERA with the Twins, which was good for a 63 ERA+. The Twins gave the same exact deal to Happ that the Blue Jays did to Robbie Ray, who should win the AL Cy Young this year.


 

2. Andrelton Simmons

What a tough decision this was to make. In a normal year, Simmons could easily take the number one spot but there was one man that just did a little more to take it from him. Better luck next time Andrelton! In 412 PA’s, Simmons hit to a 57 OPS+ which was good enough to make Foolish Baseball’s Mathis list. If you don’t know what this is, just know you absolutely do not want to be on it. Sure, Simmons had another great year defensively but no defense will make up for how horrible he was at the plate. I suggested in a 2021 offseason article that the Twins should sign Marcus Semien. I mean, I guess Semien and Simmons were pretty similar at the plate right?

1. Matt Shoemaker

Congratulations to Matt Shoemaker on being the worst Twin of the year. Not only did he have a horrible season, but he made himself look a lot worse with what he said on the way out. If you didn’t see what he said, he basically blamed the Twins pitching organization for his performance. Matt, I don’t think pitch calling was where you went wrong. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. 




 

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