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30 in 30

The Turf’s 30 in 30: The Minnesota Twins

The Twins’ future is unclear. Big changes are coming to Minnesota.

Target Field by Andy Witchger is licensed under CC 2.0

The Turf’s 30 in 30: The Minnesota Twins

Estimated Reading Time: 6 Minutes

2018: Record: 78-84

2018 Finish: 2nd in AL Central, 9th in American League

Surprises in 2018

Jose Berrios was primed for a breakout year coming into the 2018 season. Fresh off a bounce-back campaign after getting absolutely rocked in his rookie season, Berrios went 14-8 with a 3.89 ERA and 1.222 WHIP for the 2017 season.

Berrios was the second best starting pitcher on the Twins staff in their Wild Card season, and that would again be true in 2018. Kyle Gibson showed up in a very real way, and with Ervin Santana sidelined with an injury for a large chunk of the season (RIP My Fantasy Baseball Season), Berrios was in prime position to take over the reigns at Target Field.

It’s remarkable to see Berrios turning in such solid numbers in his third season. It’s even more remarkable when you realize he’s only 24.

Berrios capitalized on the chance to shine, putting up season totals like his 12-11 record (who cares?), his 3.84 ERA and a solid effort with his 1.144 WHIP. Berrios also went the distance twice, leading the league in complete games with two.

When looking at his 2018 splits, it also becomes clear that Berrios is still a young pitcher learning how to throw an entire season. After starting the season with an ERA of 3.65 and WHIP under 1.000, Berrios hit the wall in the second half. Sure, by that point the Twins were under .500, but you want your stars to keep going strong.

That’s going to be the key moving forward with Berrios. If the Twins can help their young stud learn to harness his incredible talents, they’ll see a guy who can pitch late into September, and ultimately into October.

Jose Berrios is the real deal. If you didn’t know that, start watching now so you don’t miss anything.

Disappointments in 2018

Big Bat Zeros

In 2017, Logan Morrison and Miguel Sano combined for 66 home runs and 238 hits.

In 2018, they combined for 28 home runs and 112 hits.

There’s having an off season and then there’s falling off a cliff. An offseason can display a player’s weaknesses, but can also show their resilience. There’s nothing more harrowing than a player fighting against the imaginary forces pushing them down in a tough season.

Falling off a cliff entails showing very little signs of life.

Sano and Morrison fell off a cliff in 2018, and it seriously handicapped the Twins in 2018.

Morrison’s average dropped 60 points from 2017 to 2018, and his OPS joined in the fun, sliding from .868 to .644. When calls about collusion were coming from the Player’s Union and agents like Scott Boras, Morrison was a player held up as an example. After such a solid performance in a contract year, it was insane to think that no team was leaping at the chance to snag him.

The Twins picked him up almost two weeks after pitchers and catchers reported. They then released him a month after the 2018 season was over.

Miguel Sano, on the other hand, isn’t going anywhere.

Entering the 2018 season as a member of the Twins young core, Sano had a lot to live up to. Coming onto the scene in a big way during the 2017 season, Sano was absolutely clobbering the ball for the Twins. Trailing only Brian Dozier in home runs, Sano led the Twins in OPS and Slugging Percentage in 2017, but only lead the team in futility in 2018.

Much like Morrison, Sano’s slash line collapsed, with his 2018 average coming in at .199 for the season. When a power hitter loses their ability to even come close to making contact, there’s a bigger problem at play. Miguel Sano had 266 at-bats in the 2018 season, and was called out on strikes 115 times. That’s good enough for 43% of his at-bats ending in Sano walking back to the dugout after hear the ump yell “strike three!”

Without their two heavy hitting threats in 2018, the Twins were rendered toothless. It’s one thing to lose your long ball power, but to lose the ability to hit anything amplifies the problem.

Looking Ahead to 2019

The Twins finished second in the American League Central. If you’ve been following the 30 in 30 series, you’ll recall that there’s really only one true fact about the 2018 MLB Season: the AL Central sucks. BIG TIME.

So finishing second in the worst division is kind of like being the most expensive item at the dollar store. But hey, second place is still second place.

The Twins are now heading into the second season following their 2017 Wild Card loss to the Yankees, but have finished second in the Central 3 of the last 4 years. All the Twins need is for something to go right, and their 2018 offseason work has already laid the groundwork for that.

Michael Pineda signed with Minnesota ahead of the 2018 season, leaving the Yankees after their run to the ALCS. Pineda has still not taken the mound for the Twins in a regular season game after a torn meniscus and Tommy John surgery.

Pineda was primed and ready to be a big piece of the Twins’ future, and ideally that future begins quickly in 2019.

Jake Odorizzi is another pitcher who can make his mark in Minnesota this year. Odorizzi was formerly with the Rays organization after being sent there from the Royals along with soon-to-be Rookie of the Year Wil Myers for James Shields and Wade Davis.

Odorizzi’s 2018 didn’t go as well as he or anyone in the Twins organization would have hoped. From the 7-10 record, the 4.49 ERA, and the 1.345 WHIP, weren’t on point with where Odorizzi’s numbers should have lined up. That being said, in a contract year, Jake has to be looking to turn things around.

Also, there’s Willians Astudillo.

Then there’s Joe Mauer’s retirement. For the first time in 15 years, Joe Mauer will not be taking the field for the Twins on Opening Day. For over a decade the Twins have had a leader both on the field and off, and it’s going to be a while before a leader emerges on this team.

The Twins have a lot of questions going into 2019. That’s for sure.

Justin Colombo is a 2017 Broadway Show Softball League All-Star at 3B/SS. He's essentially the Manny Machado of the Kinky Boots team. Justin has been writing about Baseball since he was a little kid. Now that being an actor in NYC has given him a lot of free time, in 2015 he decided to take his passion public and founded Three Up, Three Down as a way to express his love for the game. From there, Three Up, Three Down grew from a hobby to an obsession. After years of growth and one insult from MLB's Historian, Justin launched The Turf, a way to expand into all areas of the sporting world. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter. LET'S. GO. METS.

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