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  • 3 Twins Players Set to Bounce Back in 2022


    Cody Christie

    Every season in baseball history, some players have underperformed. Most of the Minnesota Twins' roster fits into this category in 2021, but who are the top candidates to bounce back?

     

    Image courtesy of Jeffrey Becker, USA Today Sports

    Baseball is a challenging game, and even the all-time greats can have a down season. Players fight through injuries, work on swing adjustments, and fight against extensive data compiled on their every weakness. This is a tough environment for any player to find success. 

    Here are three Twins players that underperformed in 2021 that should return to form next season.

    Randy Dobnak, SP
    Everything that could go wrong did go wrong for Dobnak after signing his extension last spring. Beginning the season as a reliever and multiple IL stints meant his season could never get off the ground. There were brief glimpses of the old Dobnak this season, but he ended up being worth -1.3 WAR. Only J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker posted a lower WAR total for the team this season. Dobnak is also under contract through 2025. In next year's starting rotation, Minnesota will have plenty of opportunities, and Dobnak is better than his numbers from 2021.

    Alex Colome, RP
    Like Dobnak, not much went right for Colome at the start of the year. His disastrous April helped put the Twins in a hole that made it nearly impossible to dig out. He has already shown improved performance in the second half with a 2.63 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. He's held batters to a .214/.277/.359 slash line in his last 27 games. One of Minnesota's biggest questions this winter will be whether or not to pick up Colome's mutual option. With Taylor Rogers injured, could that make the team want to keep Colome around?

    Ryan Jeffers, C

    Minnesota started the year with what looked like one of baseball's best catching duos. Both Ryan Jeffers and Mitch Garver struggled offensively before Jeffers was eventually demoted. Keep in mind that Jeffers had never played at Triple-A in his professional career. In 24 games, he got on base over 34% of the time and posted a .786 OPS. Defensively, he has still provided value as he has been worth four defensive runs saved and ranks in the 72nd percentile for framing. Jeffers doesn't turn 25 until next June, and he is still the future of catching for the Twins.

    Which Twins player do you feel is the most likely to bounce back in 2022? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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    Given the horrible, really bad 2021 that he had, anything could be an improvement for Dobnak. So, I say him. Related to that. In spring training, they say he had come up with a new slider that was really good. Soon after he went down with the injury to his finger and never really recover. A question for those who know about pitchin. Could it be that the slider was really good at the beginning, but it was putting additional strain on his finger, and after a while the finger got hurt with the consequences that we've seen?

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    If Colome turns it around in 2022, I hope it’s for a different team. Even when he’s “good” it’s warning track fly balls that if the wrong butterfly flaps it’s wings, would go over the fence.

    Not sure if rookie struggles count as coming back, but I’d pick Larnach to bounce back next year. I think he’ll adjust to the bigs and improve his k/bb rate.

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    Dobnak I expect a bounce back.  He never was able to get on track all year.  Colome I am not sold on coming back, but my guess they will since he had some recovery the second half when forced to pitch.  Jeffers will get his time because he is good on defense.  He may end up being a low .200 hitter with some power, but if he plays good defense he will have a job for a long time in the league.  If you get offense from a catcher that is normally a bonus. 

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    I think Colome is likely to have a solid season next year and be a good-to-very good closer. I think his option is pretty reasonable. but I think the Twins might not pick it up just because the fanbase might have too much PTSD from the early season disaster. Colome still has a negative WPA (hard to dig out of that hole when you have so many brutal outings early and the teram overall being so bad later) but the ERA+ is decent. It's harder to argue for regression back to the mean in a player who is getting older, but considering the relative fungibility of relief pitching and Colome's otherwise fine track record...he seems likely to do pretty well next year. 

    Which would be worse for twins fans? bring him back for another go, or watch him leave and pitch at least adequately elsewhere?

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    I'm going to go with Andrelton Simmons.  We won't invest money in a quality shortstop.  We won't have any options ready for next year.  I would guess the best option the Twins will see would be to resign Simmons.  How could he get any worse, he can only get better.

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    11 minutes ago, baul0010 said:

    I'm going to go with Andrelton Simmons.  We won't invest money in a quality shortstop.  We won't have any options ready for next year.  I would guess the best option the Twins will see would be to resign Simmons.  How could he get any worse, he can only get better.

     

    11 minutes ago, baul0010 said:

    I'm going to go with Andrelton Simmons.  We won't invest money in a quality shortstop.  We won't have any options ready for next year.  I would guess the best option the Twins will see would be to resign Simmons.  How could he get any worse, he can only get better.

    If they re-sign Andrelton Simmons, that will be a great start to a 3rd consecutive lousy offseason for the FO. With shifts and some defensive decline and bobbling of balls, his defense is not as advertised. And his low offensive profile is a net negative to the team. I’d sign another FA SS or use Gordon, Polanco, Maggi or Palacios there with an outside chance of Royce Lewis. Cave and Simmons are the two highest priorities for release. Possibly Kepler. Without using Kepler’s name, for 3 or 4 days in a row, Justin Morneau has pointed out the hopeless nature of his approach and the stubbornness that is involved. I’d seriously consider trading or releasing him. My 2022 OF would be Michael Brantley, Buxton and Kirilloff with Contreras Kerrigan as the 4th and/or 5th OF.

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    18 minutes ago, Greglw3 said:

     

    I’d sign another FA SS or use Gordon, Polanco, Maggi or Palacios there with an outside chance of Royce Lewis.

    I just threw up in my mouth a little bit with those options at short. A 32 year old, who has never played in the bigs, Gordon who they don't trust there in a lost season. Palacios a 25 year old in AA, Polanco who should be a second baseman and a Lewis who hasn't played a game in two years coming off an ACL.

     

     

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    13 minutes ago, TwinsDr2021 said:

    I just threw up in my mouth a little bit with those options at short. A 32 year old, who has never played in the bigs, Gordon who they don't trust there in a lost season. Palacios a 25 year old in AA, Polanco who should be a second baseman and a Lewis who hasn't played a game in two years coming off an ACL.

     

     

    I think it’s safe to say they will be adding a SS in free agency/trade, it just depends who that is… Lewis might be the guy in 2023, but the other internal options really aren’t “options”.

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    I agree on the SS position. I just don't see them trusting Polanco or Gordon, nor should they. I would expect them to sign someone like Freddy Galvis or Jose Iglesias although the latter just had kind of a brutal year in the field for the Angels.  

    How about Sano as a bounce back candidate? He's had a strong second half but he was so bad the first half that he was almost unplayable. I would consider a .240 avg., 35 HRs and a 30% or less strikeout rate a great improvement. That may be more of an improvement than a bounce back though.  

    The other bounce back candidate is Tyler Duffy. Again, better in the second half but not good in the first. I would love to se him show up in shape and have a sub 3.00 ERA year but having two good halves instead of just one. 

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    1 hour ago, Greglw3 said:

     

    If they re-sign Andrelton Simmons, that will be a great start to a 3rd consecutive lousy offseason for the FO. With shifts and some defensive decline and bobbling of balls, his defense is not as advertised. And his low offensive profile is a net negative to the team. I’d sign another FA SS or use Gordon, Polanco, Maggi or Palacios there with an outside chance of Royce Lewis. Cave and Simmons are the two highest priorities for release. Possibly Kepler. Without using Kepler’s name, for 3 or 4 days in a row, Justin Morneau has pointed out the hopeless nature of his approach and the stubbornness that is involved. I’d seriously consider trading or releasing him. My 2022 OF would be Michael Brantley, Buxton and Kirilloff with Contreras Kerrigan as the 4th and/or 5th OF.

    You keep suggesting Brantley for the 2022 Twins OF. Do you expect the Astros to cut him or the Twins to trade for him? Because he's under contract for $16 million with the Astros next year. And at his age and with his knees (currently on the DL with knee problems) he's a much better fit for DH than LF.

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    This is most likely going to happen for another team, but I think Jake Cave goes back to 2019 form. I have a feeling it’ll be another Lamonte Wade situation, where he’s traded for nothing/released, and goes on to be a quality 4th outfielder for someone else. 

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    I would say Kepler is a possibility, but a radical change in his approach has to happen.  Not sure if max is being "stubborn" or if the hitting coach should be replaced, but if max looks back on this season (and 2020) and doesn't realize he's playing himself out of a starting position (on the Twins or any other team) he's not as smart as i thought he was.  The Twins can't trade Kepler, because his value has crash-landed.  They have to hang onto him at least for 2021.

    Jeffers may be a bounce back candidate, but with Garver and Rortvedt, I see Jeffers being traded for pitching.  To Miami.

    Simmons and cave will need to bounce back with some other team.  They need to be released.

    Arraez could be a candidate, but I'm looking at options to trade him for pitching.  Arizona is a possibility.  Gordon and Austin Martin can be the utility players.  Arraez needs to be leveraged for pitching.

    Garver is someone I would look to have a better season in 2021.  Time is running out on Sano.  Next year needs to be his .240  40 HR's 100 RBI year.  Maybe it's for us.  Maybe it's for Colorado.

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    ATTEMPTING to keep it brief:

    1] Dobnak: In a season where everything went wrong, I'm not sure it could have gone any more wrong for one guy, that being Dobnak. An obvious miscalculation by the entire organization was committing to the veteran Shoemaker vs just taking a shot on the young prospect that was looking great. I have never expected greatness for Dobber, but he blew through 3 levels in 2019 and finished strong Before being put in a very awkward position of starting a playoff game against the Yankees. He was great to good for a little over half of 2020 and helped the Twins win the Central. HEALTHY, and given a real shot, I'm still very encouraged for him in 2022. Just keep him as a SP!

    2] Colome: The pitcher he's been since June is basically the pitcher we THOUGHT we signed. Am I upset if they pick up his option or sign him to something smaller. Nope. Just as long as he's brought back as a middle man or potential setup man and he doesn't get in the way of ANOTHER $5-7M arm to team with Rogers. Because we need that along with another $2-3M Robles/Clippard sort of arm. I think we have to stop blaming Colome for a lost season and just realize he was only a small part. He's already bounced back in 2021, Don't sacrifice the 2022 pen by letting someone go who could help make a difference just because a horrendous 2 month stretch in 2021.

    3] Jeffers: I love so much about Jeffers even though I think he's still developing. I just never fully bought in to the fact he would continue his 2020 production. It was just too much, too soon IMO. But I think he's more than capable of growing, developing, and actually being the 2020 version of himself going forward. But I love his ability and potential as a quality ML catcher. I also like a LOT of Rotvedt's game and potential, but he was as rushed as much as Celestino was. Garver should be the #1, no arguement, IMO.  But if Jeffers finds his bat, to any degree, that allows Garver more and more to play DH, maybe some 1B, and stay in the lineup daily splitting time behind the plate more easily. 

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    2 hours ago, TopGunn#22 said:

    I would say Kepler is a possibility, but a radical change in his approach has to happen.  Not sure if max is being "stubborn" or if the hitting coach should be replaced, but if max looks back on this season (and 2020) and doesn't realize he's playing himself out of a starting position (on the Twins or any other team) he's not as smart as i thought he was.  The Twins can't trade Kepler, because his value has crash-landed.  They have to hang onto him at least for 2021.

    Jeffers may be a bounce back candidate, but with Garver and Rortvedt, I see Jeffers being traded for pitching.  To Miami.

    Simmons and cave will need to bounce back with some other team.  They need to be released.

    Arraez could be a candidate, but I'm looking at options to trade him for pitching.  Arizona is a possibility.  Gordon and Austin Martin can be the utility players.  Arraez needs to be leveraged for pitching.

    Garver is someone I would look to have a better season in 2021.  Time is running out on Sano.  Next year needs to be his .240  40 HR's 100 RBI year.  Maybe it's for us.  Maybe it's for Colorado.

    I’d put Sano ahead of Kepler. But number one should be Byron Buxton who will play in more than 140 games at a high level. That would be the biggest bounce back. 

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    Three solid picks by this post to have better seasons in 2022. For many people, it might be difficult to actually watch Colome after the struggles he had in the first two plus months this year. A return to major league rules in extra innings will help Colome because he doesn't strike out people and the ghost runner is a drag on his work. Colome would also benefit from being used in different situations than just the last inning. Finally, when Colome does not have his cutter working, just take him out. 

    I do believe that Dobnak and Jeffers will be better next year, but I think they are more useful in a trade.

    Kepler is a player that must make some changes to his game or his career will shift to being a 4th outfielder. There is talent within the struggles of many Twins players and I hope to see some fire in the last two weeks.

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    15 hours ago, TwinsDr2021 said:

    I just threw up in my mouth a little bit with those options at short. A 32 year old, who has never played in the bigs, Gordon who they don't trust there in a lost season. Palacios a 25 year old in AA, Polanco who should be a second baseman and a Lewis who hasn't played a game in two years coming off an ACL.

     

     

    Where do you play Gordon, Arraez and Polanco? Gordon is proving himself down the stretch and has been adequate at SS. Save the coin at SS and spend it on pitching

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    Some solid bounce back options, but my vote goes to Garver. He literally almost lost a nut and came back swinging a stiff stick. At the least he will be great trade bait after a healthy year 

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    I can't imagine another season with Simmons. He didn't deliver the goods and there is no reason to hang on to him. A real disappointing FA signing. Cave needs to go also. Surely Twins can find a utility outfielder in the Beer league that can do as 'well'...right?

    Larnach and Rooker will be 2 to watch. Can they handle major league pitching on a regular basis? I agree that Buxton needs to have a 'comeback year'. Its nice that he is playing regularly right now, finally, but his bat has certainly not been the same since his return. Will the Twins extend him, or try and trade him?

    Arraez was a bit of a disappointment, relative to what was expected. Struggling to stay around .300 was not what most expected. Kepler was a huge disappointment. Has he peaked? Will the Twins hang on to him? Colome? Yeah, they may decide to give him another shot. Someone said he was no fun to watch. I agree.

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    1 hour ago, HrbieFan said:

    Where do you play Gordon, Arraez and Polanco? Gordon is proving himself down the stretch and has been adequate at SS. Save the coin at SS and spend it on pitching

    If I was running the team Gordon would start the year in AAA, Polanco at 2B, and I would be looking to trade Arraez, if I can't trade him, he is my back up at 2B, 3B, LF, and DH.

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    Jeffers is my chief bounce back player.  He still can greatly improve.  

    Kepler as noted above is an issue here, don't have a solution at this time, but cannot make one until Buxton is extended (hopefully not traded). 

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    Great comeback candidates.  My take on Colome' is they may keep him next year but I don't think they should.  Even though he has improved the 2nd half he literally cost this team 10 wins with his blown saves and losses.  Plus I for one am running out of anti- ulcer medication when he enters the game.

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    On 9/20/2021 at 9:54 AM, adjacent said:

    Given the horrible, really bad 2021 that he had, anything could be an improvement for Dobnak. So, I say him. Related to that. In spring training, they say he had come up with a new slider that was really good. Soon after he went down with the injury to his finger and never really recover. A question for those who know about pitchin. Could it be that the slider was really good at the beginning, but it was putting additional strain on his finger, and after a while the finger got hurt with the consequences that we've seen?

    It's a possibility, but I feel that the real culprit with Dobs was just bad luck.  Generally speaking most injuries you usually see in pitchers occur from poor or improperly/inconsistently repeated mechanics, not usually pitch selection or type.

     It's the downside of baseball, sometimes guys just get hurt.

    Sort of like the myth that little kids (ie 10 - 12) shouldn't throw sliders and curveballs because it (the arm motion)will destroy their elbows and shoulders.  It's not the pitch that causes the problem, it's the fact that their mechanics are usually terrible or aren't consistent and thus the problem is created.

    *** note: NOT saying Dob's mechanics were terrible... I truly believe he just suffered an unavoidable injury. 

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    14 hours ago, TopGunn#22 said:

    Not sure if max is being "stubborn" or if the hitting coach should be replaced, but if max looks back on this season (and 2020) and doesn't realize he's playing himself out of a starting position (on the Twins or any other team) he's not as smart as i thought he was.

    This is a really good take. I wanted to say that Kepler was my bounce-back pick, but he had a terrible Spring Training and acted like he was a star who was just taking the time there to tinker around. Instead, his season was pretty much a long extension of his spring. He doesn't seem curious enough to make adjustments, and established MLB pitchers have completely figured him out. Here's hoping I'm wrong.

    With Morneau's support as a mentor, I'm hoping Larnach bounces back in a big way in 2022. 

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    20 hours ago, TwinsDr2021 said:

    I just threw up in my mouth a little bit with those options at short. A 32 year old, who has never played in the bigs, Gordon who they don't trust there in a lost season. Palacios a 25 year old in AA, Polanco who should be a second baseman and a Lewis who hasn't played a game in two years coming off an ACL.

     

     

    Gordon has played there lately and he’s shown no matter where you put him, he does a major league worthy job because he’s a very skilled athlete. He’s close to the team lead in SB in very limited time.

    Palacios is 25 but hit 19 HR at SS and had 18 stolen bases.

    Polanco won 101 games at SS, 70 at 2B.

    My point is that Simmons has been awful and should depart. It also was to say that rather than make the same BIG mistake of pouring valuable money into a SS and being cheap in pitching, let’s make the choice to stay put at SS with Internal options and pour the money into 2 of 3 of Syndergaard, Robbie Ray and Danny Duffy. How does Ray, Danny Duffy, Pineda, Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober or Cole Sands sound?

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    32 minutes ago, MN_ExPat said:

    It's a possibility, but I feel that the real culprit with Dobs was just bad luck.  Generally speaking most injuries you usually see in pitchers occur from poor or improperly/inconsistently repeated mechanics, not usually pitch selection or type.

     It's the downside of baseball, sometimes guys just get hurt.

    Sort of like the myth that little kids (ie 10 - 12) shouldn't throw sliders and curveballs because it (the arm motion)will destroy their elbows and shoulders.  It's not the pitch that causes the problem, it's the fact that their mechanics are usually terrible or aren't consistent and thus the problem is created.

    *** note: NOT saying Dob's mechanics were terrible... I truly believe he just suffered an unavoidable injury. 

    Thank you. I was not saying that throwing sliders hurt your fingers, I was more on your line, that sometimes adding a pitch that you are not used to, even if the pitch is efective,  can lead to strains because you haven't mastered it yet. 

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    23 hours ago, jmlease1 said:

    I think Colome is likely to have a solid season next year and be a good-to-very good closer. I think his option is pretty reasonable. but I think the Twins might not pick it up just because the fanbase might have too much PTSD from the early season disaster. Colome still has a negative WPA (hard to dig out of that hole when you have so many brutal outings early and the teram overall being so bad later) but the ERA+ is decent. It's harder to argue for regression back to the mean in a player who is getting older, but considering the relative fungibility of relief pitching and Colome's otherwise fine track record...he seems likely to do pretty well next year. 

    Which would be worse for twins fans? bring him back for another go, or watch him leave and pitch at least adequately elsewhere?

    Bringing him back would be much worse. I do not want to see Colome in a Twins jersey next year for 5.5 million. Even if he is good, the team is going to be awful, so you might as well give innings to young guys to see what you have. 

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