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  • Can the Twins Accidently Improve Moving Forward?


    Cody Christie

    Things obviously weren’t supposed to be this bad for the 2021 Twins. Can the team improve moving forward just by accident or will they continue to be cellar dwellers?

    Image courtesy of © David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

    The Twins roster isn’t this bad. Heck, the team entered play on Monday half of a game ahead of the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central standings. Yes, this is the same Tigers squad that has lost 98 or more games in each of the last three full seasons. Detroit is trotting out plenty of replacement level players and prospects as a club that is clearly rebuilding. Yet, the Twins find themselves playing catch up in the division with nearly half the season finished.

    Minnesota’s failings have been well documented at Twins Daily. So far, the pitching staff has been arguably the worst in team history, but an influx of younger pitchers in the second half might help to boost the team. Matt Shoemaker and J.A. Happ have not worked out as planned but adding in other players like Bailey Ober and top prospect Jordan Balazovic might bring some excitement to a non-contending team. Unfortunately, many prospects will be on an innings limit due to the lack of a 2020 minor league season and Jhoan Duran, the team’s other top prospect, recently landed on the IL.

    From a draft standpoint, it helps to for the Twins to continue to be bad, because that results in a higher draft pick during the 2022 MLB Draft. Minnesota will likely deal away players on expiring contracts like Nelson Cruz, Michael Pineda, and Andrelton Simmons and this might result in the team being even worse after the trade deadline. However, the players replacing these veterans will also likely have something to prove.

    So, what parts can improve as the season progresses? Byron Buxton has been the team’s best player when he has been on the field. In Monday’s update of the All-Star Game fan vote, he is still in the top-3 among AL outfielders and that lines him up to be in a starting role. If he continues to play this way, he can insert himself back into the MVP conversation.

    Buxton isn’t the only position where the Twins can see some accidental improvement. Max Kepler recently returned from injury, and he can help improve a right field group that has accumulated the sixth lowest AL WAR total. Before his gruesome injury, Mitch Garver seemed to be swinging the bat like the 2019 version of himself. He can add even more offensive depth when he returns.

    Minnesota has been underperforming throughout the 2021 season and there is too much talent on the roster for the team to play at such a low level. Entering play on Monday night, Baseball Prospectus has the Twins projected to finish the season at 83-79, which is quite the turnaround. Cleveland and Chicago are projected to finish at 87-75, which certainly puts the Twins in the conversation for the division by season’s end.

    Before the All-Star Game, the Twins have 25 straight games against the AL Central, which means the team has their fate in their own hands. Minnesota has a chance to improve, and it may be an accident waiting to happen.

    Do you think the Twins will accidently improve? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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    The Twins will improve until one-person-too-many gets traded, then it will be more of the same for a while.  There is a chance the team will still finish the year on a positive note.

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    8 hours ago, Cody Christie said:

    Byron Buxton has been the team’s best player when he has been on the field. In Monday’s update of the All-Star Game fan vote, he is still in the top-3 among AL outfielders and that lines him up to be in a starting role. If he continues to play this way, he can insert himself back into the MVP conversation.

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    I think they can improve fairly organically and not by accident.  Weird things can stop happening, they can play more sound baseball and they can get healthy.  That alone should translate to more frequent wins.  The issue becomes what happens with the pitching staff.  Until changes are made there, particularly in the bullpen, the ceiling of this team is quite a bit lower than it should be.

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    I mean, this is a team that was projected to get 90+ wins, and that's because largely this same group of players was a 100 win team in 2019 and (on pace) 2020.

    Now, a number of players have underperformed, but they've also gotten extremely unlucky, not just with injuries, but with terrible pitching, hitting, and fielding in the highest leverage spots. Maybe some of that is the guys just not having the right makeup to perform, but a lot of that is luck that will, over the longer run, even out.

    Even if you downgrade your projections because of the poor performance of some of these guys, you've still got like, an 80 win team. So if their performance picks up and they play at a .500+ level the rest of the season, that shouldn't be a surprise, even if it results in a pretty poor record overall.

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    If the bullpen continues to stabilize yeah I think they have a chance to improve.  No matter what happens though this team doesn't look like a playoff team or one of the top teams in the league so once the deadline hits I hope some more young guys get a chance to prove they belong.  This winning streak makes me think they will be better than I thought they would be though.

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    When talking about why the Twins are down, no one ever mentions a reason that may be a big part of the problem.  That is spelled R-O-S-A-R-I-O. 

    I maintain he was a huge part of the chemistry that made this team special the past few years.  Yes, their pitching has been bad or worse, but there also doesn't seem to be any fire in their lineup.  That is where Eddie shined the brightest.

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    53 minutes ago, roger said:

    When talking about why the Twins are down, no one ever mentions a reason that may be a big part of the problem.  That is spelled R-O-S-A-R-I-O. 

    I maintain he was a huge part of the chemistry that made this team special the past few years.  Yes, their pitching has been bad or worse, but there also doesn't seem to be any fire in their lineup.  That is where Eddie shined the brightest.

    Hard to put your finger on the reasoning behind the Chemistry & Culture change. All we know is we have a Chemistry and Culture issue we didn't have before this year. I don't know how to quantify the loss of a player as being a reason for this, every roster loses players from one year to the next.
    FO, manager and coaches are the keeper of the culture, not an individual player. I agree Eddie had moxy, and came up through the org with all these guys. It has to be on Rocco to mitigate whatever ill exists when you lose a brother warrior. Maybe the team friendly contract should have gone to Rosario instead of Kepler? There are only so many left handed batting corner outfielders we need? They drafted Larnach and Kirilloff - & just like the choice between Cave and Wade - they made a choice between Rosario and Kepler. 

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    Rosario is hitting around .250, 5 HRs. It was time to move on from Eddie, I acknowledge he was part of the chemistry of the team but it was either pay him 8 million or use that money to try and get pitching. Granted the pitching the Twins got have pretty much been a bust but I agree what the FO was trying to do. 

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    10 minutes ago, 4twinsJA said:

    Rosario is hitting around .250, 5 HRs. It was time to move on from Eddie, I acknowledge he was part of the chemistry of the team but it was either pay him 8 million or use that money to try and get pitching. Granted the pitching the Twins got have pretty much been a bust but I agree what the FO was trying to do. 

    If those are the measurements we are comparing by, Kepler is at .211 and also 5 HRs.

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    Can the Twins accidently improve moving forward this season?  Not likely, their pitching is the worst it's been since the mid 90's.  This team will get worse once they peak on this current winning streak.  They will quickly slide down into oblivion forever and ever and ever.

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