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  • It’s Okay to be Disappointed in the Twins

    Cody Pirkl

    The Twins are the sole team in the AL Central with a positive record and run differential. If the season ended today they’d be postseason-bound. With all of this in mind, it’s still fair to be disappointed with the team so far.

    Image courtesy of Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

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    The Twins were projected to be a good-not-great team headed into 2023. Betting outlets and websites such as FanGraphs had them projected to finish in the 80-85 win range. 50 games into the season, the Twins are right on par to meet those expectations. Far from a juggernaut, they’ve been good enough to lead the pack in the AL Central. All that being said, fans having some disappointment thus far is more than fair.

    The “AL Central Champions” title hasn’t carried much weight in recent seasons, and 2023 is no different. On one hand, the Twins are doing what they should be by being on top of such a weak division, but some may find the surrounding context frustrating. With the second-place team in the division being Detroit (29th in runs scored and 21st in ERA), it does make one wonder how good the Twins actually are given their meager two-game lead through 50 contests. While the Twins leading the division is undeniably good, the competition is undeniably bad, and they’re just barely hanging on. The Twins first place standing in the worst division in baseball may not give much reassurance to some, which is probably fair.

    The Twins' style as a team has also been frustrating to date. Starting pitching has long been the missing piece of the puzzle, and now that they have arguably the best rotation in baseball, the offense has completely disappeared. It’s like a sick game of Whack-A-Mole for the baseball gods. The boom-bust nature we saw all too often in 2022 has carried into 2023 to an even more intense degree. They’ve scored 3 runs or fewer in 22 of their 50 games, 44% of the time. Their 26th-ranked team batting average and 24th-ranked team OBP paired with a near 10 strikeouts per game as a team creates little action. Their sixth-best 68 homers can only do so much to make up for such little else going on offensively. That’s not only a frustrating combination of offensive struggles, but an extremely boring one to watch.

    The offense is failing in ways that are bound to cause frustration, as Carlos Correa has put up the worst start to a season in his career with a sub-.700 OPS. Bases loaded opportunities have reached maddening levels of incompetence, as the offense is slashing .116/.173/.116 with 13 strikeouts in 52 plate appearances. They remain hitless in 10 plate appearances with bases loaded and no outs. The Twins pursued pieces to hit around left-handed pitching this offseason, adding Kyle Farmer and Donovan Solano to a respectable group of existing righties. For the fourth consecutive season, they’re not meeting expectations against lefties, and have in fact been downright brutal slashing .215/.309/.390 in these matchups. Many of the offensive struggles simply make no sense.

    This of course leads into the bullpen, as after spending so much of the season pitching with zero margin for error courtesy of the offense, they’ve started to spring a leak. With zero offseason additions, the Twins once again appear to be one arm short in the late innings. Griffin Jax has been allowed to take loss after loss, accumulating six already with an ERA over 5.00. The Twins not only passed on non-tendering Emilio Pagán, but reportedly on trading him this offseason. While he’s pitched better as a mostly low-leverage reliever, Caleb Thielbar’s injury and Jax’s struggles once again thrust him into high leverage, which he promptly melted down in against the Dodgers. At this point, it’s a bit hard to blame anyone for being fed up watching this play out.

    The frustration with the Twins lies in missed opportunity. The starting pitching rarely leaves the game without giving the team a chance to win. The rest of the team is far too often finding new creative ways to lose. The Twins would certainly be playing from behind in the division if the starting staff was even top 10 rather than the very top of the league. The Twins' failure to create any padding despite their pitching so far is difficult to swallow. Especially looking back on 2022, where the team failed to create any space in what was a summer-long division lead only to finish in third place and 14 games out.

    There’s nothing wrong with hoping the Twins will get better as the season goes on or even being content with their record so far as it falls right in line with projections. That being said, there’s a lingering feeling that they’ve left quite a few wins on the table. It’s okay to be disappointed.

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    The offense can't be this bad all season. Last season, they had a team OPS+ of 105 and we felt they were underachieving. This year, it's 98! Regression will be a positive for us. But the Twins have wasted some really good pitching. As ugly as Pagan and Jax have looked at times, the staff still has an ERA+ of 128. Sadly, that won't be sustainable either.

    But, the AL central is a dumpster fire so we should still be ok.

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    Quick question, and maybe I missed something, but why is it a lot of recent OP posts have been blocked for a day or two to make contributions? Updates being made, a glitch, or just time for us to reflect before being allowed to comment? 

    I really, really wanted to comment on this particular OP the minute it was posted.


    Sorry for shouting in CAPS. But I not only LOVE the Twins, I absolutely love this team and how it was constructed, with very few exceptions. 


    1] I wanted a powerful OF/1B bat from the RH side. I quickly changed gears when Taylor was brought in as I saw the reasons why. It made sense to me, defense and speed and help for Buxton.

    2] Pagan should have been gone for many reasons. Forget decent low leverage results to end 2022, and decent numbers so far this year, despite a couple of horrific performances. His $3.5M should have been used, along with a couple $M more, for a shot at a possible improvement as to deepen the pen and not automatically assume Alcala was going to be ready.

    That's about it in my EXCEPTIONS to the offseason

    A recent TD poll asked us to rate the Twins performance so far. The overwhelming grade was a "C". I almost agreed due to frustration, but I went "B" in my grade.


    Becausn while there is seldom such  a thing as a "moral victory", it has a place in the right context.

    Let me explain with recent context. Despite the fact that our beloved Twins were EGREGIOUSLY screwed on a number of poor umpire calls in their recent west coast swing that SHOULD have allowed reprimands,  demotion,  or similar, they were IN those games to win, despite the egregious calls. Crap happens. You win a few, you lose a few. 

    I don't care about the state of the ALC as a division. This is MY OPINION of the Twins:

    1] The rotation has been one of the best, if not the best, so far in MLB. The best the Twins have had in YEARS, despite the Mahle and Maeda situations.

    2] While they SHOULD have said goodbye to Pagan and spent his $ elsewhere on a hope, he isn't the biggest problem, though he surely hasn't helped. Duran, Jax, Lopez, Theilbar was a great start to the pen. HOPE was Moran and Alcala filling in the 5th and 6th spots. Moran is starting to look good. Alcala looked OK for 1 inning at a time, but blew apart going more. Was he misused? Maybe. But now he's out. Take away 2 horrific appearances by Pagan, and I guess you have an acceptable pen arm. But history has proved how bad he really is. They should have added SOMEONE to  be a better potential arm than him.

    So if the Tsins can just settle down Jax after some extreme bad luck and possible lack of confidence, get Lopez back in a groove, and these guys have previously shown what they can do, and then factor in Thielbar healthy in a couple weeks, along with Morzn suddenly finding himself, and the surprising Stewart, suddenly this pen looks damn good. And there are a possible few helpful arms Ike DeLeon who might help as well.

    A few bad games from a RP are magnifed....not talking Pagan level implosions...but they can do better. And the good news is they CAN do better and actually have some good arms to work with.

    But even the best pens will allow a few runs here and there. So where is the offense?

    3] The loss of Arraez, no matter how good of a player/hitter, does NOTHING to excuse the variance of offensive performance from game to game. WITH Arraez, the Twins still had an up and down offensive performance in 2022 before their eventual collapse. I grant you Polanco missing the first couple of weeks, raking on return, slowing, then getting hot again before his recent IL stint doesn't help. But Correa has been cold except for a few games. Miranda unexpectedly imploded. Where do we even begin with setting records for ineptitude with the bases loaded?

    With a mix of veterans and young talent, I don't expect the BOMBA SQUAD of the past. But there's still too much talent here to be so damn poor and inconsistent with production. It usually takes a while for the young talent to settle in. A silver lining for some of the recent injuries might be the audition and experience of the prospects. 

    Truth is, the pen might not be that hard to fix.

    The biggest problem is an offense that can't support its pitching staff, despite opportunity, and despite talent. The Twins should be about 10 games over. 500 right now, if the offense hadn't let them down and disappeared in so many critical times. 

    The pen needs to get right, but they've got some arms to do it.

    The lineup needs to PRODUCE way better than they have been, especially based on talent. The offense has cost more games than the staff has.

    The Twins should be a 92+ win team with this rotation, and the potential of the pen and lineup. To me, it seems easier to right the pen  by getting Jax and Lopez right. Do we get the lineup better by playing the kids? 

    IDK the answers, but damn projections, this SHOULD BE a 90+ win team. It almost feels, at times, like they just realize how good they are, or might be,

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    Excellent well written article.  This team the past 2 years and now this year is a very boring and frustrating team to follow.  Way too many wins left out there.  But the team is content because there appears to be little or no consequence for poor play and results.  Thanks for writing an article that explains why many of us fans are frustrated with the play of the Twins.

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