Though it is early in the 2021 MLB season, the Minnesota Twins are not off to a good start.
In their first 38 games, they are a lowly 13-25 and sit in fourth place in the American League Central.
This is a disappointing start for a team that had high aspirations coming into the year.
If the season ended today, the Minnesota Twins would have the #1 Overall Pick in the 2022 draft
That’s absolutely wild
— Danny Hacker (@theGREATdanny94) May 13, 2021
With a strong core of players, it is surprising that they have been so bad to start.
While there is still a lot of baseball to be played, the Twins must get started sooner rather than later.
Byron Buxton is fast. pic.twitter.com/yMuwndsfg6
— Cut4 (@Cut4) April 28, 2021
They were helped by Nelson Cruz, who added nine homers and a .291 average.
However, beyond them, there is still a lot of help needed.
Here are two players that could make a major difference for the Twins, if they are able to step up.
1. Max Kepler: The Twins Need His Bat
Max Kepler is one of the Twins’ core positional players.
He offers them a left-handed bat which splits their right-handed dominant lineup, while also posting solid production in the past.
In 2019, Kepler hit 36 homers in just 134 games, turning himself into a true threat at the plate.
Max Kepler is the first opposing player with 3 HR in Cleveland since … Max Kepler (8/1/16). pic.twitter.com/11szo9yD4v
— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) June 7, 2019
However, he struggled in the COVID-shortened 2020 season to reach similar numbers in the Twins lineup.
Now, in 2021, it seems that the lack of production has carried over as Kepler has gotten off to a poor start.
In 28 games, Kepler has hit just four home runs with a measly .212 average.
On top of that, he tweaked his hamstring while running the bases in their most recent game against the Oakland Athletics.
While his health will be reevaluated, Kepler will be an important part of the team’s success moving forward.
Whenever he does return, look for him to once again become an integral part of the Twins offense.
2. Kenta Maeda: Fluke In 2020?
So far this year, the most disappointing Twin has arguably been Kenta Maeda.
After coming off a Cy Young Award runner-up finish in 2020, many had the right-hander slated for a big year in 2021.
Kenta Maeda has not allowed a hit through 8. 👀
— MLB (@MLB) August 19, 2020
However, this has not been the case.
In eight starts, Maeda is 2-2 with a high 5.26 ERA.
While the Twins had expectations for him to be the team’s consensus ace, he has performed far below that.
It has left a big hole in the team’s rotation, as they lack the depth to make up for those struggles.
However, if Maeda could correct himself and return to his previous dominance, it could help give the Twins a major boost.
Maeda has gotten hurt through free bases this year.
In a little over half as many innings, he has the same number of walks as last season.
He is also getting hit more, giving up over twice as many hits per nine innings as he did last year.
These are two areas that he will look to improve upon moving forward.
If he can, he will give the Twins another reliable arm that would certainly help them start moving back up in the standings.