The Twins went from World Series contenders to pretenders in one easy season. They fell to last in the AL Central after winning their division over the previous two years. Compared to 2019, Minnesota scored 210 fewer runs (729 – 14th) while giving up 80 more runs (4.83 ERA – 26th). They ranked 5th in home runs (228) and 24th in stolen bases (54). Their bullpen finished 34 wins, 31 losses, and 42 saves with a 4.39 ERA (20th).
Minnesota lost SP Michael Pineda, RP Alex Colome, and SS Andrelton Simmons to free agency. The Twins signed SP Dylan Bundy plus three minor league arms (SP Jharel Cotton, SP Jake Faria, and RP Danny Coulombe).
Their starting rotation is in rebuild mode while lacking any front-end aces. SP Joe Ryan and SP Bailey Ober flashed at times in 2021, but they don’t own elite prospect pedigree.
RP Taylor Rogers ended on the injured list last year with a left finger injury. He has closing experience while never locking a full-time job for the whole season. The rest of the bullpen lacks impact arms.
The development of their offense hinges on a healthy season by OF Byron Buxton and the growth of OF Alex Kirilloff. SS Jorge Polanco raised his bar, but the remaining starting lineup may have just as much risk as reward.
The Twins have three World Series titles (1924 – Washington Senators, 1987, and 1991).
2B Luis Arraez
The change in the structure of the Twins’ offense in 2021 gives Arraez a chance at 550 at-bats for the first time in his career. He continues to hit for a high average while offering some clutch ability with runners on base (RBI rate – 18.7 over the past two seasons). Even so, his bat has no upside in power based on his low average hit rate (1.278) and empty barrel rate (2.3).
Arraez is one of the most challenging hitters to strike out (10.0 percent) with an above-average walk rate (9.0). In addition, his bat offered minimal value against lefties (.253 with no home runs and nine RBI over 99 at-bats). He has a low fly-ball rate (28.0) and a short HR/FB rate (1.9).
Over seven seasons in the minors, Arraez hit .331 over 1,436 at-bats with 194 runs, six home runs, 161 RBI, and 29 stolen bases.
His ADP (303) gives him starting value in 15-team fantasy leagues. However, he is only a two-category player (runs and batting average) while not being a lock to help in either area. Therefore, I only view him as a short-term injury replacement option until his power develops a pulse.
OF Byron Buxton
After getting drafted first overall in the 2012 MLB June Amateur Draft, Buxton came into the majors with exceptional talent. Unfortunately, injuries and underperformance derailed his first six years with the Twins (.238 with 204 runs, 51 home runs, 172 RBI, and 62 stolen bases) while only seeing 1,380 at-bats.
Despite his shortfalls, fantasy managers still believed in his ceiling last draft season. He busted out of the gate with an explosive showing over his first 92 at-bats (19 runs, nine home runs, 17 RBI, and five stolen bases), putting him on a path for a difference-maker season. Unfortunately, a hip injury and finger issue derailed him again over the next three and a half months. Buxton played well over his final 132 at-bats (29 runs, nine home runs, 13 RBI, and four steals).