Happy New Year’s Eve! 2022 is only hours away from being over, but there’s still time to look back on the year that was. Some people have had good ones, some had harder ones, and some were the Minnesota Twins, whose roller coaster year was one that not even the best script writers could have put together.
All throughout the year, the team stunned their fans and there were some truly amazing moments again and again, but the team’s downfall towards the end of the 2022 season was sharp and depressing, With the year about to be in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look back at the year that was.
We take a look back at the Minnesota Twins’ 2022.
We’ll start by looking at the team’s offseasons of the year (both before and after the 2022 season). As disappointing as their free agent signings recently have been, there was a lot to like over the course of the year.
The trade for Mitch Garver left a hole at catcher, but it brought in Ronny Henriquez, who looks like he could be a good long reliever/depth starter for years to come, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who was immediately dealt again.
That second deal saw the Twins move IKF and Josh Donaldson for Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela, a trade that left the team with good depth and extra cash left over, part of which they spent on the trade for Sonny Gray, one of the brightest spots on the team’s roster in 2022 and the likely ace for the 2023 season.
Even more important for that Yankees trade was the cash it freed up to sign Carlos Correa. Despite the disappointment in how his second free agency has turned out this offseason, Correa’s original signing was an incredible moment for the Minnesota Twins and their fans, and his play was one of the clear highlights of the season.
Outside of the Joe Smith, Jhon Romero, and Jose Godoy additions, they didn’t do much else in 2022, but we’ll address that more later. Instead, they went into the 2022 season as a much better version of the team from 2021, and after a brief adjustment period, it showed.
By May 24th, the team wasn’t seeing a lot of fans, but they were riding very high. They had won six straight games, built a 5.5 game lead in the division with a record of 27-16, and had seen such incredible moments as this:
Buck would walk it off multiple times this season en route to his first career All-Star appearance, a game in which he would join Luis Arraez as the pair put together some great numbers. Arraez in particular had a remarkable year, one that resulted in his first batting title, the first batting title won by a Minnesota player since Joe Mauer left.
On top of the individual success, the Minnesota Twins welcomed several talented top prospects. Jhoan Duran made his Twins debut and immediately became a star with one of the best pitches in the majors. Jose Miranda made quite the impression in his debut. Josh Winder and Cole Sands flashed some potential.
Late in the season, Minnesota natives Matt Wallner and Louie Varland arrived, with top pitching prospect Simeon Woods Richardson joining them to show just how bright the future is. Outside of Duran, however, no one’s debut was as exciting as Royce Lewis.
While he was only here for a short time, he mashed the ball and played excellent defense at short and across the diamond. The former first overall selection gave Minnesota Twins fans a glimpse of the future with him on the roster, and it definitely looks exciting:
During the draft, the team saw two elite prospects fall to them in Brooks Lee and Connor Prielipp, boosting a system that sorely needed new talent. Both players are extremely talented with high ceilings, and it’s going to be very exciting to see what they do next!
In the offseason that followed, the team also managed to land their top catching target in Christian Vazquez, solidifying one of their biggest weaknesses, creating some optimism for future spending. Unfortunately, for as much good as their was in 2022, there was a whole lot of bad.
We’ll start with the 2022 lockout. The year began with baseball being completely locked out for months, with Major League Baseball continually refusing to pay what the players deserved. When it did end, the Twins struggled out of the gate before going on the run we mentioned earlier, but that was nothing compared to what was to come.
The team fell apart for many reasons, but we’ll start with the most prevalent. The Twins spent the second-most days on the injured list in the entire league, with guys like Byron Buxton, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Jorge Alcala, Royce Lewis, and Ryan Jeffers missing massive amounts of time this season and seeing every single starter land on the IL at one time or another.
Injuries aren’t the only excuse though. The team failed to add any depth in the previous offseason, and when those injuries took place, the team’s paper-thin depth cost them the season, as players like Gilberto Celestino, Chris Archer, and more were forced to play major roles while everything fell apart.
On top of this, the team saw several poor decisions hamper their team’s ability as well. Allowing Emilio Pagan to remain the closer and allowing Archer to keep pitching in the rotation when young arms were ready cost multiple games, and the team lost a lot of ground because of it.
After the team was officially eliminated, they got those young prospects involved and began clearing out free agent mistakes, but the crushing end to the season continued to the offseason after the Minnesota Twins front office let free agency go by, and after missing out on Carlos Correa, they sit with extremely thin depth and an uncertain outlook for 2023.
I’m hopeful the team can turn forward with a positive viewpoint, but right now, things don’t seem very bright in the Twins future. Regardless, a new year offers opportunities for change, so here’s to hoping the team makes those changes in 2023.