The 2021 MLB season has been full of surprises, but perhaps the biggest of all involves the Minnesota Twins.
The Twins led the AL Central division in 2020, with a 36-24 record.
They also paced the division in 2019, at 101-61.
They have been very good for at least a couple of years, but everything went wrong in 2021.
Expected to compete for the division lead once again and to make a deep playoff push, Minnesota instead slumped to a 48-65 record to this point, before Tuesday’s games.
They are currently last in the AL Central, 19 games behind the leaders, the Chicago White Sox.
The Minnesota Twins are a bad baseball team right now. Total system failure. It's painful to watch/listen to.
— Jason Gudim (@GudimJason) May 13, 2021
One could have imagined a scenario in which the Twins fell to third place, counting on Cleveland going for it.
However, Minnesota in last place seemed so far-fetched that seeing them there is without a doubt the surprise of the season.
Of course, the season hasn’t ended, and they could still realistically finish third or fourth.
But since they sold at the deadline and significantly weakened their MLB roster, it’s not looking likely.
A Good, But Old, Roster
Minnesota entered the season with high hopes.
However, most of their big-time contributors, such as Kenta Maeda, Josh Donaldson, Michael Pineda, Andrelton Simmons, Alex Colome, Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, Mitch Garver, and Caleb Thiebar are over 30.
In addition, their biggest star, Byron Buxton, is unfortunately one of the most injury-prone players in MLB, even if these kinds of labels are often unfair.
Buxton was the brightest point of the Twins’ season, hitting .369/.409/.767 in 110 plate appearances, with ten homers and five stolen bases.
A hip injury derailed his season, and the Twins’ hopes for 2021 in the process.
But most of the core is old, and injuries didn’t help.
That’s why the Twins decided to be sellers at the deadline and start over.
A Change In Course, With Good Results
For the better part of April and May, the Twins played games to see where their roster was at.
By the time June and July came along, it was becoming clear that they weren’t going anywhere in 2021, not with Buxton out.
That’s why they decided to become sellers at the deadline in late July.
And in the best deal of the deadline day, they sent pitcher Jose Berrios (controllable through this season and next) to the Toronto Blue Jays for two blue-chip prospects: outfielder Austin Martin and pitcher Simeon Woods-Richardson.
Overall, their haul was impressive.
And, given that some of those players could debut next year, and the Twins still have Maeda, Donaldson, Polanco, Kepler, Sano, Rogers, Buxton, Duffey, Thiebar, and youngsters Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach, they could theoretically compete next year if they play their cards right.
The Twins are going to retool in the offseason and are going to be really good again
— Lewis (@JaysKid_RHP) August 9, 2021
The 2021 season was a failure for the Twins given their playoffs aspirations, but they did well by retooling for the future, and that future could start as soon as next year.