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2022 American League Central Division Preview: Minnesota Twins

The Twins made a splash this off-season.

Baltimore Orioles v Minnesota Twins Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

The Twins have reached the playoffs three times between 2017 and 2020, but they took a big step backwards in 2021, losing 89 games and finishing dead last. Rather than break it all up and start over again, they doubled down their efforts and made a big splash this off-season, trading their All-Star third baseman to clear payroll space to land the biggest free agent of the off-season - Carlos Correa. Whether these moves pay off remains to be seen, but the Twins have made clear they will not sit still.

Minnesota Twins

2021 record: 73-89, 5th place, 20 games back

2022 PECOTA projection: 86-76

ZIPS projection: 82-80

Manager: Rocco Baldelli

Key additions: Tim Beckham, Dylan Bundy, Carlos Correa, Sonny Gray, Gary Sanchez, Joe Smith, Gio Urshela

Key losses: Willians Astudillo, Alex Colomé, Josh Donaldson, Mitch Garver, Miguel Pineda, Andrelton Simmons

Offense

The lineup that was known as “Bomba Squad” in 2019 when they set a record for most home runs in a season still lingers in Minnesota. The Twins finished second in home runs last year with six players hitting at least 19 home runs. All but Josh Donaldson and Nelson Cruz will return, with Carlos Correa and Gary Sanchez replacing their power.

Byron Buxton has finally tapped his potential, but the Twins will be hoping he can stay on the field. He has played just 187 games over the last three seasons but has hit .277/.321/.576 with 42 home runs and 25 steals in that time, good for 9.6 rWAR. Alex Kiriloff will join him in the outfield looking to capitalize on a promising rookie season, and Trevor Larnach could be in the mix later in the year. The Twins also have a crop of good prospects on the verge of the leagues like infielders Royce Lewis, Austin Martin, and Jose Miranda.

Minnesota Twins 2022 Expected Starting Lineup

Batter PA HR BA OBA SLG rWAR
Batter PA HR BA OBA SLG rWAR
CF Byron Buxton (R) 254 19 .306 .358 .647 4.5
2B Jorge Polanco (S) 644 33 .269 .323 .503 4.9
SS Carlos Correa (R) 640 26 .279 .366 .485 7.20
DH Luis Arraez (L) 479 2 .294 .357 .376 3.40
1B Miguel Sanó (R) 532 30 .223 .312 .466 1.00
RF Max Kepler (L) 490 19 .211 .306 .413 2.10
C Gary Sánchez (R) 440 23 .204 .307 .423 0.70
LF Alex Kirilloff (L) 231 8 .251 .299 .423 0.60
3B Gio Urshela (R) 442 14 .267 .301 .419 0.60
Bench PA HR BA OBA SLG rWAR
C Ryan Jeffers (R) 293 14 .199 .270 .401 0.60
IF Nick Gordon (L) 216 4 .240 .292 .355 0.20
OF Brent Rooker (R) 213 9 .201 .291 .397 -0.60

Pitching

The Twins finished second-to-last in the American League in both runs allowed and ERA, and they won’t have their top three pitchers from last year - José Berríos was traded to Toronto, Michael Pineda signed with the Mariners, and Kenta Maeda is out indefinitely after elbow surgery. Instead, the Twins have cobbled together a rotation full of inexperienced pitchers and reclamation projects, although the trade for Sonny Gray will stabilize the rotation a bit. Rookie Joe Ryan will get the Opening Day start after just six big league starts.

The Twins don’t light up radar guns, but they throw strikes, finishing with the fourth-fewest walks. Taylor Rogers and Caleb Thielbar give them some effective lefties, but the Twins mostly return a bullpen that finished with the fourth-worst ERA in the American League at 4.39.

Minnesota Twins 2022 Expected Pitching Staff

Rotation ERA FIP IP K/9 BB/9 rWAR
Rotation ERA FIP IP K/9 BB/9 rWAR
RHP Joe Ryan 4.05 3.43 26.2 10.1 1.7 0.4
RHP Sonny Gray 4.19 3.99 135.1 10.3 3.3 3.4
RHP Bailey Ober 4.19 4.56 92.1 9.4 1.9 1.1
RHP Dylan Bundy 6.06 5.51 90.2 8.3 3.4 -0.3
RHP Chris Archer 4.66 4.26 19.1 9.8 3.7 -0.1
Bullpen ERA FIP IP K/9 BB/9 rWAR
LHP Taylor Rogers 3.35 2.13 40.1 13.2 1.8 0.4
RHP Tyler Duffey 3.18 3.49 62.1 8.4 4.0 1.2
RHP Jorge Alcala 3.92 4.06 59.2 9.2 2.0 0.3
LHP Caleb Thielbar 3.23 3.47 64.0 10.8 2.8 1.2
RHP Joe Smith 4.99 3.93 39.2 7.7 1.8 0.2

The Twins have some star power with more talent on the horizon, which will make them a formidable force in the Central Division. They did make the curious decision to trade away ace José Berríos last summer, leaving their pitching staff pretty short-handed. But they have the offensive depth to make more moves, and judging from the last year under GM Derek Falvey, they’re not afraid to make some bold trades.

Poll

How many games will the Twins win in 2022?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    More than 95
    (2 votes)
  • 10%
    90-94
    (8 votes)
  • 24%
    85-89
    (18 votes)
  • 25%
    80-84
    (19 votes)
  • 32%
    75-79
    (24 votes)
  • 4%
    70-74
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Less than 70
    (0 votes)
74 votes total Vote Now