The season has been a disaster so far for the Minnesota Twins. Their current record is 9-15, and they are 6 games behind the surprising Kansas City Royals. The bullpen has been continually lit up and their bats go silent for innings at a time, but the most frustrating facet of their play to many fans, including myself, is the numerous defensive mistakes they have committed this year.
The numbers don’t lie. As Dick Bremer on Bally Sports North reported, in sixty games last year, the Twins committed 20 errors the whole season. In the first 23 games of 2021, they have already committed 12 errors. Their team fielding percentage was a healthy .990 in 2020. This year, their fielding percentage is .985.
That might not seem like a big difference, but it is, especially considering the defensive improvements the team attempted to make. Last year, the team had two games where they committed two or more errors. This year that number is already at four. It’s getting out of hand.
The Minnesota Twins’ defense needs to improve for the team to compete in 2021.
How could this happen to the Minnesota Twins, who had made investments in the offseason to improve their defense? They were supposed to have a rock-solid middle defense, especially with the addition of Andrelton Simmons at shortstop. Simmons, Byron Buxton, Josh Donaldson, and Max Kepler were supposed to prevent these defensive lapses.
To illustrate my point, we will examine two games where defensive breakdowns led to Twins’ losses, one on April 21st and April 24th. For both of these games, defensive lapses cost the team big time. What follows is not pretty.
On April 21st, the Minnesota Twins were leading the Oakland Athletics by a score of 12-10 in the bottom half of the 10th inning in Oakland. Per Major League rules, Oakland starts the extra inning with a runner on second base. The Twins pitcher, Alex Colome retired the first two batters he faces. He then proceeds to walk the next two batter to load the bases with two outs.
Mark Canha hits a routine grounder to recently activated second baseman Travis Blankenhorn for what should have been the final out. Unfortunately, the ball bounces off his glove for an error and the runner comes in from third. 12-11.
The next A’s hitter, Ramon Laureano, hits another routine ground ball, this one to Luis Arraez who is playing third base. Should be an easy out to win the game. Arraez picks the ball up cleanly, then throws a ball, which I think is still sailing over the Bay Bridge for another error. Two runs score easily and Oakland wins, 13-12. Ouch.
In the April 24th game at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Jorge Polanco, who is playing shortstop, throws a ball away in the first inning allowing the first run to score, rather than getting the second out. Jake Cave air-mails a throw in right field on a routine play, helping lead to an ugly 6-2 loss for the Twins.
Now you could say the contributing factor in all the miscues is that they were made by players subbing for starters who were either on the injured or the COVID list. While this is true, none of these players were new to their respective positions and the Twins always pride themselves on having versatile players.
There is still time for the Minnesota Twins to turn their season and defensive woes around. Now that Simmons and Donaldson are back in the lineup, as well as Kepler soon coming off the COVID list, and Polanco moving back to second base, the defense should improve dramatically. This along with better bullpen performances, and more lively bats will be needed for the Twins to rejoin the Central Division race.