Coming off such an uncompetitive 2021 Major League Baseball season, there’s no doubt that Rocco Baldelli and the Twins front office hoped to turn the page in 2022. For a matter of months it looked like they would be the darling of a bad division, but ultimately, injury and poor performance caught up to them. When looking back at the year that was, there was still plenty of things to be excited and thankful for.
In no particular order, here’s five things that Twins fans can give thanks for as they cut into their turkey this week:
Byron Buxton Got Paid
Despite an offseason of uncertainty, and lockout uncertainty, the Minnesota Twins did what they had to and paid Byron Buxton. Sure, he’s injured a whole lot. Sure, you never know when he’s going to miss a boatload of games. There’s also the reality that when he’s on the field he’s among the best players in the entire sport. His 92 games in 2022 were the most he’s played in a season since 2017, and despite injuring his knee early on and having to play through what ultimately required surgery, he was an MVP candidate for much of the campaign. Buxton proved his worth again, and though all parties are hoping he can be on the field more, the front office absolutely did the right thing in getting a dynamic talent at a discount.
Carlos Correa Was Fun
Knowing that Minnesota had money to spend and replacing Andrelton Simmons at shortstop was a must, there was plenty of late spring excitement regarding Trevor Story. Then in the middle of the night Derek Falvey and Thad Levine struck a deal with Scott Boras client Carlos Correa. It was a three-year deal that was never going to matter beyond year one. Sure, it would be great if the parties came together for a long term pact this offseason, but even if they don’t, we’ll always remember the time that the Twins signed the best free agent available in a given season.
Royce Lewis Appeared
From the moment that Royce Lewis was the Minnesota Twins number one overall draft pick, there was hope he would become a superstar. He dealt with injuries and a pandemic that set him back while in the minors, but he returned from a torn ACL to light the farm system on fire. When Correa went down, he forced the organization’s hand. He was so good in fact, that the Twins needed to reposition him to keep him in the lineup. A second flukey ACL injury was certainly suboptimal, but we saw the talent that has been anticipated all along. He’ll be back at some point in 2023, and if the rehab goes smoothly, Minnesota certainly has a star in the making.
Jose Miranda Cemented His Performance
There hasn’t been a minor league season as good as Miranda had in 2021 for Minnesota in quite some time. His .973 OPS between Double and Triple-A was something to behold. Even with that, he didn’t crack the Opening Day roster. Once he was given an opportunity at the big leagues, Miranda was determined not to go back. His 116 OPS+ wasn’t otherworldly in 2022, but the slash line was even gaudier before a late season swoon. The rookie still managed to blast 15 homers in his first 125 Major League games, and he’ll be an integral part of the 2023 roster.
Jhoan Duran Lights It Up, Literally
You can go back as far as you’d like in Minnesota Twins history, and you won’t find a pitcher throwing triple-digits consistently. Not expected to make the Opening Day roster, Duran not only did that, but also emerged as the best arm in Minnesota’s pen and one of the best across baseball. He certainly could’ve been voted an All-Star as a rookie, and should expect to see more than a few of those games during his career. While the abnormal sprinkler is a pitch that drew plenty of discussion, his ridiculous fastball is what you show up for. He earned his own entrance music at Target Field, and is must-watch baseball every time he steps on the mound.
What else would you include in your list? What are you most thankful for as a Twins fan over the past year?