The Minnesota Twins are one of the best scoring teams in the league, but there is nowhere to go but up for the Bomba Squad.
The Minnesota Twins have the best run differential in the American league through the first game posing a +17 run differential through seven games. Despite all of this, the individual players have been far from game-ready.
If you just look at the stat lines for each of the players, you see some good things (Max Kepler’s homers, Eddie Rosario’s RBI) but their stats as team? Not that good. Even Nelson Cruz, who was the AL Player of the Week has struggled over the past week.
Here’s a look at all of the Twins’ main contributors (at least 10 at-bats) and their stats through seven games:
- Max Kepler: .200/.231/.791, 4 R, 3 HR, 4 RBI, 1 BB-5 K
- Josh Donaldson: .182/.296/.614, 4 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 4 BB-7 K
- Jorge Polanco: .276/.300/.714, 5 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 BB-3 K
- Nelson Cruz: .333/.379/1.157, 8 R, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 2 BB-6 K
- Eddie Rosario: .231/.310/.733, 5 R, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 3 BB-4 K
- Jake Cave: .214/.353/.782, 2 R, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 1 BB-7 K
- Miguel Sano: .059/.059/.176, 2 R, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 BB-8 K
- Mitch Garver: .154/.254/.404, 1 R, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 2 BB-8 K
- Marwin Gonzalez: .250/.438/.938, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 4 BB-3 K
- Luis Arraez: .333/.391/.725, 3 R, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB-1 K
The Twins have three hitters (just three!!) who are hitting at/above league average: Cruz, Arraez, and Gonzalez. And for Cruz, he’s hit just 2-14 with 0 HR, 1 RBI, and his OPS has dropped 799 points. He’s lost more in OPS in one week than all but one of his teammates have gained. It was a bad week for him.
Here’s the thing though: the Twins are still winning. And they’re doing it behind a bullpen that is looking like the best group in all of baseball, combined with a starting rotation that doesn’t shoot itself in the foot. Outside of Berrios’ bad opening night, the Minnesota Twins’ starters haven’t allowed more than two runs in a game.
Pitching isn’t the thing the team is struggling with (finally!), and while the Twins could use an ace, this is one of the most complete teams in baseball. The lineup just has to pull it together. Here are three reasons the lineup will bounce back, and soon.
Reason No. 1: Most MLB hitters are starting Slow, not just the Minnesota Twins.
The first reason is that the majority of baseball is getting off to a slow start. The Minnesota Twins aren’t the only team that are struggling out of the gate offensively. Waiting nearly four months to start a season has definitely had an impact on the hitters.
This will change. It always does. Hitters have stumbled out of the gate before, and they always bounce back. This will happen again. Seeing more live pitching will be so helpful and guys from Sano to Christian Yelich will bounce back.
Reason No. 2: The Minnesota Twins have a proven history of hitting.
If you look at the stat lines above, Nelson Cruz and Luis Arraez are the only Twins players that have believable numbers. That’s because the Minnesota Twins are a team that’s got good hitters from top to bottom.
Josh Donaldson is currently hitting .182, Miguel Sano is hitting .059, Mitch Garver is hitting .154, and they have just a single homer between the three of them. That’s not going to be the case for much longer. Donaldson, Garver, and Sano have never hit below .236 in a single season and they have 376 homers between the three of them. They’ll wake up.
Same goes for Max Kepler and Eddie Rosario. Both Kepler and Rosario are having better seasons then the trio mentioned above, but they are both better average hitters as well. Rosario has a .279 career average, and Kepler’s average continues to improve. They’ll put it together.
Jake Cave doesn’t have an exemplary hitting record, and he’s been terrible outside of this single hit:
The team will get better with Byron Buxton in the lineup. I know he hasn’t had a great start either, but he needs some time to get acclimated as well.
Lastly, Jorge Polanco has gotten off to a solid start this year, but it’s nowhere near as good as the start he got off to last year. He’s a better player than he has showed thus far, and I think he still has a lot more room to improve.
That’s a whole lot of room for improvement for players in a lineup that’s third in the major leagues in run differential (just two runs back of the league-leading San Diego Padres). There’s no reason to believe they won’t make those steps.
Reason No. 3: Rocco Baldelli is at the helm of the Minnesota Twins
Rocco Baldelli is a good manager. Not just a better-than-average manager, but a legitimately talented bench boss who in his first season with the Twins won an AL Manager of the year award and guided the Twins to their best record since 1965.
In an analytically driven league, he knows how to (while working with the hitting coaches) get the best out of his players. He showed that last year. He’s no Tom Kelly (he’d have to win a couple titles to even be considered close), but he will definitely help get these hitters back going again.
The Minnesota Twins lineup has some excellent players and coaching that will help them get through this early season slump. They’re nowhere near their ceiling, but once these guys get going, there’s no telling how good they’ll be.