Marvel Studios has recently released a new series called What If…?, asking the question what would have happened had things gone a different direction in the Marvel Universe. The question of What If is also a popular one in sports as well, and today we’re going to ask that question in relation to the Minnesota Twins.
It’s human nature to play the “what if?” game. It’s a truly agonizing thing that we do, but yet here we are, wrapping up another season with loads of these “what if” questions. Twins fans in particular can’t seem to help but play a little game of “what if”, especially after such a disappointing year.
With that being said, in true self-inflicted torture, I present the what if’s of the 2021 season.
Minnesota Twins Game of What if:
What if Alex Colome started hot (or at least not as terrible) to begin the season? If he had a strong April and May, the Twins would have had a lockdown closer that would have been extremely helpful in the early season when late-inning losses were frequent. Even though he’s rounded into some form in the past month, a September resurgence isn’t what the team needed.
What if Byron Buxton stayed healthy? This is a question Twins fans ask every year, but especially this year after a red hot start put him in the realm of triple crown. Unfortunately, our lovable Byron breaks easily and spent most of the season on the IL again. But if he even played 100 games, the Minnesota Twins’ season would likely look a lot different.
What if Kenta Maeda repeated last year instead of breaking down? In a season where the Twins were desperate for pitching stability, Kenta was sorely needed to be the team’s ace. Even if he pitched at 85% of the level he was at last year, the team would have had two really strong pitchers in Maeda and Jose Berrios. Speaking of…
What if Jose Berrios didn’t have to be traded away? If these other what ifs happened, it’s pretty unlikely Berrios would have been moved. Jose was in the middle of a career season, settling in as the workhorse the Twins have always needed him to be. The team will miss him greatly the rest of the way and next season.
What if Matt Shoemaker and J.A. Happ were able to stabilize the back of the rotation? This may have been wishful thinking, but it certainly looked like these two were solid enough to hold down the 4 and 5 spots in the rotation on paper. Unfortunately, Happ was streaky and Shoemaker was a disaster. If they both were able to hold up the back end, this rotation would have been stellar.
What if Nelson Cruz was still around? The “Boomstick” was thundering, and if some of these other what ifs were happening, Cruz would have been able to keep it up in Minnesota. The Twins’ Roberto Clemente nominee would have enjoyed hitting in the playoffs again. I miss Nelly in powdered blue.
What if Jorge Polanco started as hot as he’s finishing? After a fantastic second half, Polanco has been arguably the best second basemen in the league. If he had started this hot, he’d have his name in the MVP conversation and would be a lock to sweep the awards at second base.
Every team can plays this agonizing game, but oh wow does it apply to the 2021 Twins. They were never able to bring all the phases of the game together early to build momentum, and while it’s been entertaining to see the transactions of our second half sell, I’ll miss the excitement of the Twins playing playoff baseball (even if that meant suffering over if the Twins would finally win a single playoff game).