By: Abby Altman
In 2021, the Minnesota Twins defined “disappointing”. They went from being back to back division champs, the league leader in home runs, and one of the best teams in baseball, to taking last place in the AL Central in 2021. The 2021 Twins were plagued with injuries, pitching problems, and an offense that seemed to have lost its power.
In preseason power rankings for 2022, the Twins were consistently found in the lower 20’s. That has quickly changed.
Just 1 month since the lockout ended, and the season began, the Twins now find themselves at #10 in the MLB Power Rankings.
The Twins started off the first few games in rough shape, but quickly turned it around.
Beginning the season in a 4 game series against the Mariners, the Twins started 0-2, but came back to split the series 2-2. The 2 game series against the Dodgers was a well expected sweep by the Dodgers, potentially the best team in baseball.
There were 2 more series before the Twins took their first series win. Minnesota split the series with the Red Sox, and then lost the 3 game series to the Royals 1-2.
It was the mid April homestand when the Twins got hot. The Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers traveled to Minnesota, where the Twins won 6 games in a row, sweeping 2 division rivals back to back.
The Twins then traveled to Tampa Bay, where they won the series 2-1 against the Rays, landing a 7 game winning streak.
In the most recent games, the Twins split a 4 game series with the Orioles and swept the Athletics. The Houston Astros swept the Twins in a 3 game series in Minnesota last week. The Guardians came to Minnesota to end the Twins longest home stand of the year, and the Twins took a 2-1 series victory.
The Twins are now traveling to Oakland to take on the Athletics for the 2nd time this season. In game 1, the Twins took a 3-1 victory with Chris Archer pitching 4 innings, allowing only 1 run, and the bullpen shutting the A’s down the remainder of the game.
The Twins .583 record has not come without any injuries or difficulties. Many Twins players have found themselves benched due to injury or COVID, or placed on the IL.
Players like Carlos Correa, Byron Buxton, Miguel Sanó, Luis Arraez, and many others have missed significant amounts of time due to injury and illness. Because of this, the Twins lineup is often full of young players.
MLB veterans like Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco, Gio Urshela, and Gary Sanchez are essential parts of the Twins nearly every game, with the amount of young players in the lineup.
Alex Kirriloff, Royce Lewis, Gilberto Celestino, and Jose Miranda are just a few names who are found in the starting lineup more often than you would expect.
Alex Kirrilof played in 59 games last season, before undergoing a season ending wrist surgery. Before the surgery, Kirilloff was batting .251 with 8 home runs. This season, he is batting just .172 in only 10 games.
Royce Lewis and Jose Miranda are 2 players the Twins recently called up from AAA. Both infielders, Lewis has been playing shortstop while Correa heals his hand on the 10-day IL. Miranda has been making appearances at 1st base and 3rd base, with Miguel Sano on the IL as well.
The Twins bats have been slower this year than in previous years, so a large part of the Twins success is provided by the pitching. The Twins have the 5th lowest overall ERA in the MLB, 10th in starting pitchers, and 6th in relief pitchers.
The Twins have a fairly new pitching staff, acquiring Sonny Gray, Joe Ryan, Chris Archer, Chris Paddack, and Dylan Bundy, all just before the 2022 season. For the majority of the time, these pitchers make up the Twins starting rotation, who have held opponents to 4 or less runs in 70% of this season’s games.
The AL Central is perhaps one of the worst divisions in the MLB. Because of this, the Twins find themselves in 1st place in the division, 3 games ahead of the White Sox. The Twins have the 5th best record in the AL, and the 9th best record in the MLB.