3 Twins players who are exceeding expectations so far this season

A few guys are stepping up in big ways to help offset Minnesota’s lack of offseason spending.
There are a handful of Minnesota Twins players exceeding expectations this year and carrying some serious weight.
There are a handful of Minnesota Twins players exceeding expectations this year and carrying some serious weight. / Adam Bettcher/GettyImages

Before this season the Minnesota Twins front office were actively cut payroll. It was an absolutely terrible way to chase all of the success from last season, and remains a sticking point for fans still frustrated over how the lack of movement then is hampering the team now.

While the New York Yankees were acquiring stars like Juan Soto, the Twins let Cy Young finalist Sonny Gray walk, didn’t address his exit in a meaningful way, traded away Jorge Polanco in a glorified salary dump, and hardly invested in the team’s depth.

When the plan is to cut payroll, if you want to stay competitive, you need to ensure that your bargain-basement free agents outperform their contracts and other players have career years.

Despite this, the Twins have managed to stay competitive this season. One free agent is playing above the value of his contract — finally — and two other in-house players are having better than expected seasons.

3 Twins players who are exceeding expectations so far this season

Carlos Santana 

Not long after the Jorge Polanco trade, the Twins brought in 38-year-old veteran Carlos Santana on a one-year deal worth $5.25 million. So far, Santana has exceeded that contract, as the switch-hitter has been productive on both sides of the plate. Santana is hitting .290 against left-handers and against right-handers he has 24 RBIs.

Santana leads the Twins in RBIs with 38 and is tied for the team lead with 12 home runs. His run production has been clutch in close games, which has helped his WAR climb to 1.1.

Santana has shown all of his experience and composure when the game is tight, most recently having a pinch hit walk-off against the Tampa Bay Rays.

This isn’t the only time Santana has come up clutch this season, with runners in scoring position and two outs, he is 9-for-33 with four home runs and 14 RBIs. On top of this, Santana has been arguably the best pinch hitter in MLB. As a pinch hitter, he is 4-for-7, with two of those hits being home runs.

Santana might not have been the flashiest signing in the offseason, but he has been an invaluable player for the Twins in big moments and has come alive in June. Notably, he was one of the few bright spots against the New York Yankees earlier this month. He is now slashing .340/.411/.600 in June.

If Santana can keep these numbers up, he will go down as one of the best Twins offseason moves in recent memory.

Griffin Jax

When needing to cut payroll, it’s important to find good, valuable free agents like Santana and for players already on the team to improve.

The Twins had that happen with Jax, the relief pitcher has been one of the league's best. 

Last season, Jax was good with a 3.86 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and a positive WAR of 0.7. However, this season Jax has improved significantly on those numbers. Jax has an impressive 2.16 ERA, a 0.90 WHIP, and a WAR of 1.1.

The Twins have struggled in the bullpen this season, but Jax has been steady and has been a major factor in the Twins ability to close out games.

Joe Ryan 

When the Twins let Sonny Gray leave in the offseason there were a lot of question marks around the starting pitching and who would replace him. Ryan had an impressive , and the Twins needed him to get back to his best in 2024.

So far, he has done just that. Ryan has an ERA of 3.13, 95 strikeouts, which leads the team, and a WHIP of 0.96, which is currently seventh in MLB.

It’s still too early to discuss the Cy Young, but if Ryan can keep up these numbers, seeing him in the conversation at the end of the season wouldn't be a surprise. At this pace, it could be argued he is the ace of the Twins staff.

It’s always frustrating when a team has its most competitive season in years and decides to cut payroll in the offseason, but the Twins have done a good job finding great value in free agency and letting their roster continue to develop. Due to this they have been able to stay in the 2024 postseason conversation.

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