It’s no secret that things have not gone well for the Minnesota Twins this season. After starting out 10-4 while averaging over 4 runs per game, the Twins have started a backward slide that has fans throughout Twins Territory more than a little concerned.
Winning the AL Central is not a tough task — nor is it much of an accomplishment — but the Twins squandered a strong start to arrive at the All-Star Break with a sub-.500 record and in second place. They’re only a half-game out and Cleveland isn’t exactly a world-beating squad but Minnesota being in this position is an absolute embarrassment.
For the first time in most of our lives, the pitching staff is not the issue. Instead, the Twins offense has fallen asleep at the wheel and the entire season is at risk if the unit doesn’t wake up soon. At one point earlier in the season, Minnesota’s offense was outscoring opponents 62-37 and showing what adequate support for the starting rotation can do.
At a certain point something broke, or perhaps normalized, and Minnesota’s production tanked. The Twins now rank near the bottom of the league in total offense and have the sixth-worst batting average, hitting a miserable .232 as a team.
Something needs to change, and the question is whether or not a solution is moving on from hitting coach David Popkins. The New York Yankees, a team that ranks three spots below the Twins, fired hitting coach Dillon Lawson and hired former MLB player Sean Casey to try and fix its struggling offense.
Could the Twins take a page out of the Yankees book and make a drastic move?
Should Twins make a change at hitting coach to fix offensive struggles?
Such a move might push Rocco Baldelli past a point of no return. When the Yankees fired Lawson, The Athletic quipped “slap ‘Desperation’ on a cologne bottle and it’ll smell like firing the hitting coach” which feels pretty apt.
Baldelli’s future is murky to begin with. He doesn’t have any years left on his contract and the Twins can move on from him after this season without firing him and owing him any money.
Rocco’s best trait is his loyalty and level-headedness, which we’re seeing tested to a potential fault. Popkins is still green in his coaching career, but the’s been at this for two-and-a-half season without much to show for it.
After the Twins were stuffed into a locker during a three game sweep by the Atlanta Braves, Baldelli said that ‘tough questions need to be answered’. If that means moving on from Popkins, there are some intriguing options the Twins could lean on to try and fix the offense before it’s too late.
There have been conversations about whether the Twins should buy (yes) or sell (no) at the trade deadline. The front office seemed to downplay that narrative by saying there are enough guys getting healthy that can make a difference without the team needing to dip into its farm system resources to make a trade happen. Before any of that is brought to the table, a decision needs to be made at hitting coach.
Minnesota can make all the trades it wants, but if the problem is with coaching it doesn’t matter what talent is brought in. Derek Falvey is right when he says there’s talent on the roster with Byron Buxton, Carlos Correa and others, but they shouldn’t be hitting like they’re playing Low-A ball.
Perhaps things will miracoulsy fix themselves after the All-Star Break but that’s not a good gamble to make. There’s still three months of baseball left, but it already feels like the Twins are running out of time to sustainably turn the season around.