The Minnesota Twins have been the single most disappointing team in the 2021 MLB season so far, when we consider expectations surrounding them and where they are in the standings.
Before Friday’s games, the Twins are 33-46, in fourth place of the American League Central division and a whopping 14.5 games out of first place.
The Twins were supposed to be fighting with the Chicago White Sox and the Cleveland Indians for the division lead.
Instead, they are closer to last place (only half a game ahead of the Kansas City Royals) than to the third place (two games behind the Detroit Tigers).
While there is still half of the campaign to play, Minnesota would be smart to prioritize other things instead of trying to complete an epic comeback that they may not have the weapons to attempt.
Here is why the Twins should look at the future and not to 2021.
Their Best Players Are Injured Or Underperforming
If a team is going to try and erase a 13 or 14-game deficit in three months, it certainly needs its best player.
Byron Buxton is that for the Twins, but a hip strain, and now a boxer’s fracture in his hand, have taken most of his season.
The outfielder is hitting .369/.409/.767 with 10 home runs and five stolen bases in 27 games.
Byron Buxton – Minnesota Twins (10) pic.twitter.com/YfRoLlbeuu
— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) June 20, 2021
The lack of a quality, reliable second option in the Twins’ lineup is concerning: Buxton is still the leader in Wins Above Replacement, or WAR, with 2.7.
WAR is a cumulative stat, which means that the more a person plays, the higher the WAR, or that’s the theory.
Nelson Cruz is the second-ranked player by WAR, with 2.0, but he has done it in 70 games and Buxton has only 27.
His 5.56 ERA in 2021 should tell you everything you need to know about Maeda’s 2021 campaign.
When you don’t have your best position player, and your ace is performing like a replacement-level player, you won’t get too far.
They Are Too Far Down The Standings
Speaking of far, Minnesota isn’t particularly close to a playoff spot.
They are 14.5 games behind the division-leading White Sox, and they are also 13 games out of the second Wild Card spot.
That’s a lot of games to overcome in half a season, and while it’s possible, it’s highly unlikely and could set the franchise back a year or two if they decided to try and go for the playoffs in 2021.
Not only they have a lot of games to catch up, but they also have lots of teams currently positioned in front of them, and that should be weighed into the analysis, too.
I think we can all agree that the Minnesota Twins are um, Sellers at the deadline.
— Max Stassi All Star fan account (@zackhatt1) June 5, 2021
For Minnesota, it makes sense to just focus on the development of young players such as Trevor Larnach, Alex Kirilloff, and Jhoan Duran instead of trying to rush Buxton back from his injury or bringing reinforcements to go for it.
If they could sell some of the aging pieces in their roster, even better.