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  • The 2021 Twins Are the Most Disappointing Team Since…


    Cody Christie

    Minnesota is nearing the end of its worst season since 2016, and this club ranks near the top as one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history. So, how does this season rank compared to other recent disappointments?

    Image courtesy of David Berding, USA TODAY Sports

    Inconsistent pitching and injuries have been just some of the issues for the 2021 Twins. There have been some positives as with any season, but it’s hard not to be disappointed as expectations were high this year. Here’s a look at some of the other disappointing teams from recent years.  

    2011 Twins (Record: 63-99)
    The 2010 Twins had opened Target Field with a bang, including winning the division by six games over the White Sox. It was the team’s second consecutive AL Central title, and there were many that thought the Twins would be fighting for a three-peat. It’s easy to find connections between the 2021 Twins and the issues faced by the 2011 squad. 

    Justin Morneau struggled to return after a concussion ended his 2010 campaign. Joe Mauer dealt with bilateral leg weakness and back problems. Players like Danny Valencia, Alexi Casilla, and Tsuyoshi Nishioka were relied on to fill full-time roles. Minnesota’s starting staff struggled to reproduce their numbers from 2010, with Carl Pavano, Brian Duensing, Nick Blackburn, and Francisco Liriano all posting ERA totals of 4.30 or higher. 

    2007 Twins (Record: 79-83)
    The 2007 Twins didn’t implode like the 2010 season, but they were indeed a disappointment. Back in 2006, the Twins put together a magical season with Justin Morneau being named AL MVP, Joe Mauer winning his first batting title, and Johan Santana earning his second Cy Young. It was only the fourth time the team had won over 95 games since moving to Minnesota. 

    During the 2007 season, Minnesota finished just under .500, but that was closer to last place than first place in the division. Outside of Johan Santana, the team left fans wanting more. Jason Bartlett finished with the highest WAR among position players, and the pitching staff took a step back. Terry Ryan stepped aside from the GM role in the middle of September. This left Bill Smith to trade Santana and watch Torii Hunter walk away in free agency. The franchise was heading in a new direction.

    1993 Twins (Record: 71-91)
    Minnesota had won the World Series in 1991, and the club finished with 90-wins in 1992. Many of the core pieces of the championship club were still in the prime of their careers. There was hope the team could bounce back in 1993 and keep their winning window open. However, the club was entering a stretch of nine straight losing seasons.

    During the 1993 season, many of the team’s issues were on the pitching side of the ball. Out of the team’s regulars, six of the nine batters had an OPS+ of 100 or more, including Kirby Puckett and Kent Hrbek with 120 OPS+ totals. Every starting pitcher with over 100 innings had an ERA north of 4.00, with Willie Banks being the lone starter to post an ERA+ greater than 100. It was Hrbek’s last season of over 100 games, and Puckett was only two years away from being forced to retire. The end of an era came more quickly than many would have anticipated. 

    Which of these seasons was most disappointing? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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    It's hard to classify this one.  2011 and all the injuries seem to be the closest, but this season feels like a mix of bad luck in terms of injuries and bad luck in terms of nearly every free agent signing turning into a bust.  There's also a number of younger players coming up in terms of the lineup and pitching that don't make the future seem that dire.

    1993 and afterwards was a total different universe of disappointment - from a bad season to labor disputes to what felt like a nail in the coffin in 1995. I suppose the good news of those memories is that no matter what happens from then on out, there's always a reason for optimism.

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    I have to say 2011. Maybe because its the most recent, but it just kind of feels the same. 93 felt different in the way it was the injury after injury that at that time had me feeling like a bounce back the next season was a possibility (little did I know).

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    We have a habit of dropping like a rock in some seasons.  Look at 1989 -1990

    1991      95     67      586          
    1990      74     88     .457                      
    1989 80 82 .494    
    1988 91  71 .562                
                         
                           

    You choose three good examples, but the las 60 years have seen too many of these collapses.  Add 1968 and 1978 to the list of What Happened Seasons.   Here is where those seasons fit into the records.

    x-1970 98 64 .605 -- 1            
    x-1969 97 65 .599 -- 1            
    1968 79 83 .488 24 7            
    1967 91 71 .561 1 2          

     

     

    1979 82 80 .506 6 4            
    1978 73 89 .451 19 4            
    1977 84 77 .522 17.5 4

     

       

     

       
    1976 85 77 .525 5

    3

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    2011. I remember arguing that the 2010 team didn't have any obvious "career seasons" and there was room for some improvement. Sure, Morneau's 187 OPS+ wasn't sustainable over a full season but a full season of his prime would be better than 2010. Cuddy and Kubel both had lower OPS+ than expected. Young was finally breaking out and we should expect more to come. I expected a little regression from Valencia but he was a solid MLer at that point and Hudson was going to be replaced by an MVP! And it looked like Liriano was finally back and Pavano was a solid vet behind him in the rotation. -sigh-

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    1993 and 2011 tie. Back in 1993 there wasn't much info available about the minors.  You had to wait fir baseball weekly to give you a weekly snippit of info.  So we didnt really kniw hiw bad our farm system was back then.  In 2011 it was in plain sight and we were completely blindsided by our inability to compete. With this season it feels we are just a few players away from competing again.

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    1993 and 2011 main because those were teams that had some expectation to be playoff contenders.  Then not only weren't they, it was a precursor to many seasons of losing.  Essentially those were abrupt windows being slammed shut.

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    2011 was a lot worse than 2021 since the feel on 2011 was the Twins just had horrible luck with injuries and a few players just having down years. I think 2012 was actually much worse than 2011 because it became clear the Twins were a bad team.

    I didn't expect the Twins to win the division this year because the White Sox were obviously turning a corner and they were committed to making a run, but I didn't expect the Twins would be this bad.

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    9 hours ago, mikelink45 said:

     

    We have a habit of dropping like a rock in some seasons.  Look at 1989 -1990

    1991      95     67      586          
    1990      74     88     .457                      
    1989 80 82 .494    
    1988 91  71 .562                
                         
                           

    You choose three good examples, but the las 60 years have seen too many of these collapses.  Add 1968 and 1978 to the list of What Happened Seasons.   Here is where those seasons fit into the records.

    x-1970 98 64 .605 -- 1            
    x-1969 97 65 .599 -- 1            
    1968 79 83 .488 24 7            
    1967 91 71 .561 1 2          

     

     

    1979 82 80 .506 6 4            
    1978 73 89 .451 19 4            
    1977 84 77 .522 17.5 4

     

       

     

       
    1976 85 77 .525 5

    3

    I know this thread is supposed to be about “recent” collapses, but I do remember these.  Interesting that the won-lost record in 1968 wasn’t as bad as I recalled.  But the rebound was great: I guess with The Killer coming back from his injury, the addition of Leo Cardenas (an overlooked Twins player), and—I don’t know—the Billy Martin factor?

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    I’d like to nominate the drop-off from the nearly 100 game 1970 season to the very disappointing 1971 season, where the Twins were basically a very strong hitting team but a poor team pitching-wise. The high point was Tony Oliva winning his 3rd batting title in 1971.

    Rod Carew hit .307 before raising his game massively and winning 6 of the next 7 batting titles with a string of staggering batting  averages!

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    38 minutes ago, Greglw3 said:

    I’d like to nominate the drop-off from the nearly 100 game 1970 season to the very disappointing 1971 season, where the Twins were basically a very strong hitting team but a poor team pitching-wise. The high point was Tony Oliva winning his 3rd batting title in 1971.

    Rod Carew hit .307 before raising his game massively and winning 6 of the next 7 batting titles with a string of staggering batting  averages!

    But it was the year Tony-O injured his knee!  He was so awesome until then, and then he just limped into the batting title with Bobby Murcer trying to catch him. 

    The relief pitching was a train-wreck that season.  

     

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    3 hours ago, Nine of twelve said:

    No discussion of 2016? Very few people expected an outstanding team but I don't think anyone expected total system failure and 103 losses.

    Concur.  2011, 2016, 2021 in no particular order for me.  

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    For me, they are the most disappointing team since...the 2020 Twins.

    Heading into the playoffs on a roll, team allegedly healthy, then we absolutely fall apart and crawl behind the couch against the Astros. Bad hitting, bad fielding, questionable managing- that was two days of getting punched in the stomach. I was crushed.

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    2021 was not as big a disappointment for me as other years because i couldn't see how this Twins team would win more than 81-86 games. I did expect a winning season. The pitching was predictably shaky and not just in retrospect. Berrios and Maeda are very good MLB pitchers. Maeda's difficult year was not expected. Still, I couldn't look at Happ, Shoemaker, Pineda, and Dobnak as parts of a solid staff. Perhaps it was a surprise that one of Duran, Winder, or Balazovic did not step forward to bolster the rotation or that the Twins received nothing from Thorpe or Smeltzer. There were options to trade for a starting pitcher and sign a closer last offseason, however, and the decision to roll with Colome, Happ, and Shoemaker set the tone pretty early this year.

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    Projection systems had the 2011 team winning about 84 games. That's a -21. It's really one of the biggest negative outliers in the algorithmic projection era. 

    Those same systems had the Twins winning about 87 games this season. The squad would have to lose out this week to really be an argument.

    I would say 2011 is the worst in the last 15 or so years. It's in the top 5 for biggest negative differences in MLB for projection vs actual over that span.

    This year's club is likely to finish around -17. That they are within striking distance of making that top 5 MLB list twice in 11 years with a week to play is really frustrating though. 

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    8 hours ago, Nine of twelve said:

    No discussion of 2016? Very few people expected an outstanding team but I don't think anyone expected total system failure and 103 losses.

    It's as big of an underperformance as 2021, but I would say not as big of a disappointment. In 2016 the Twins were expected to be a 77ish win ball club and not compete for a thing.

    Fans are really not much more disappointed when a team loses 85 vs 100. It doesn't hold the same emotional weight. 

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    1 hour ago, Minny505 said:

    It's as big of an underperformance as 2021, but I would say not as big of a disappointment.

    That nuance is a valid point, and I think in retrospect that 2011 and this year probably were more disappointing than 2016. In fact, bottoming out so badly in 2016 probably has a silver lining in that it spurred a complete retooling of the entire organization.

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