Earlier this week, ESPN’s baseball writing team identified the most watchable teams and players so far this season. The article featured Twins in multiple spots, including being named one of the must-see teams. Minnesota was identified as a team to watch “if you love seeing an experiment in action.” Overall, the premise is the Twins decided not to rebuild after a last-place finish and began rebuilding a competitive roster.
Here are four experiments that have worked out well for the Twins.
The Superstar Experiment
Minnesota was never supposed to be in the market for Carlos Correa, but many pieces fell into place this winter. The Twins used the money saved from the Josh Donaldson trade to sign Correa to a unique contract. Both players bring vastly different personalities to the clubhouse, and those differences may be helping the team’s clubhouse chemistry this season. Twins fans are well aware that Correa can opt out of his contract at the season’s end, and that’s another part of this Twins experiment. Can a superstar player help a team win even without previous or future ties to the organization?
The Closer Experiment
Taylor Rogers was entering his final year of team control, and the Twins front office traded him just hours before Opening Day. One can debate whether or not that was the right decision, especially now that Chris Paddack underwent his second Tommy John surgery. However, the Twins received Emilio Pagan to add to the bullpen, and the team had a secret weapon in waiting. ESPN named Jhoan Duran one of their pitchers to watch because of his unique splinker. When added with his triple-digit fastball, Duran is one of baseball’s most dominant arms. Minnesota has been careful with his transition to the bullpen, so it will be interesting to see how his role changes throughout the year.
The First Base Experiment
The Twins started the year with a plan to use Miguel Sano and Alex Kirilloff at first base . Unfortunately, Minnesota got little to no production out of this position as both players dealt with injuries and poor play. So, the front office had to get creative and try another experiment. Players that are 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds aren’t supposed to handle first base, especially when that player averages less than five home runs per season. Luis Arraez hasn’t fit the typical mold for most of his professional career, but it’s clear the Twins are a better team when he is in the lineup regularly. He entered the season with a 114 OPS+, but he’s raised that by over 40 points this season, even in baseball’s muted offensive environment.
The Pitching Pipeline Experiment
Many Twins fans were clamoring for the team to spend money on starting pitching this winter. That didn’t happen as the team trusted that their young pitching would continue to develop, which has looked like the right bet. Joe Ryan doesn’t fit the mold of a typical ace, but his start to the 2022 season puts him in the AL Rookie of the Year conversation. Bailey Ober, a former 12th-round pick, is proving he can be more than organizational depth. Minnesota decided it couldn’t leave Josh Winder off the roster, and he has been successful as a starter and a reliever. Other top-pitching prospects are also getting closer to the big leagues, so replacements can be ready when the need arises.
Minnesota is clearly experimenting with a variety of roster components this year, but everything seems to be mixing together quite nicely. Do you think these experiments can last the entire season? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.