Suffice to say, the Twins' follow-up to their monster 2019 was a bit of a letdown. Yes, they won the AL Central this year, but they did so after trailing the Indians and White Sox for half the season and slipping into first at the very last minute...followed by a first-round loss to the SEVENTH-SEEDED ASTROS. Losing to a strong Yankees team last year is one thing, but losing to a team that finished 29-31 is another thing entirely.
Miguel Sano is the perfect example of this Twins team. Yes, he was back and healthy this year, which was nice, but he also struck out 90 times in 53 games, while hitting .204 with 13 home runs and 25 RBIs. Yes, those are good power stats, but they came at the expense of contact hitting and striking out a bunch of times. So Sano still remains a double-edged sword for the Twins- keep him and continue to lead the league in power hitting, or dump him and actually get someone good to play 1st base.
2021 Prediction: He's gonna lose a starting gig and get DFA'd by July.
Jorge Polanco, one of the most overrated players in the game right now, had, you guessed it, an okay year at short after his HUGE 2019. Almost as if his 2019 was a fluke or something. Anyway, Polanco hit .258 with 19 RBIs, giving him a WAR of 0, his lowest since 2016. The one thing setting him apart in past years, his batting numbers, have declined.
2021 Prediction: Either traded at the deadline or made a bench player thanks to a rookie call-up.
Meanwhile, Luis Arraez, the team's second baseman, is going the exact opposite direction as Polanco. Arraez, who spent 32 games starting at 2nd, hit .321 this year with 36 hits and 13 RBIs, a pretty solid offensive register for the rising defensive infielder. Arraez has a strong hold on the position for 2021, and looks to be a key piece in the next stage of this team.
2021 Prediction: A gold glove, or at least consideration for one, and some great contact stats upon Arraez' first full-season performance.
Mitch Garver's stock took a big hit in 2020, with injuries limiting him to 23 games, and a .167 average with only 2 homers limiting him even further. The once-strong backstop felt like he was taking a step backwards from his breakout last year, and it was tough to see.
2021 Prediction: An improvement in terms of average, but he'll have to contend with Ryan Jeffers for the starting gig now.
Randy Dobnak had an immaculate start for the Twins this season, going 5-2 in his first 7 starts, with a 2.43 ERA and 17 strikeouts. Dobnak wasn't exactly a fireballer, but he had good control, and was fantastic at keeping opposing offenses at bay. His 6.75 ERA in September dive-bombed his strong season, and led to him being phased out as a starter as the playoffs began.
2021 Prediction: More control, a few more strikeouts, and a held rotation position throughout the season.
Rich Hill's late career success is just a really heartwarming factor of this modern era of baseball. Everyone wrote him off after 2009, and since 2015 he's been 43-22 with a 2.92 ERA and 584 strikeouts, seeing playoff time with Los Angeles and Minnesota, and impressing the hell out of people despite injuries limiting his seasons. His 2020 was only 8 games, but he had a 2-2 record, a 3.03 ERA and 31 strikeouts. At age 40, those are excellent stats.
He still wants to play. I honestly think Minnesota re-signs him. If not, maybe he returns to his hometown team in Boston.
Marwin Gonzalez spent his second season as the stock utility man in Minnesota as a backup for Josh Donaldson at 3rd, which paid off when Donaldson hit the IL early in the season. Gonzalez hit .211 with 5 homers and 22 RBIs over 55 games, which isn't GREAT, but it's not bad at all, especially given Donaldson's disappointing year.
2021 Prediction: More utility work elsewhere.
Taylor Rogers continued to be a strong choice for the ninth for the Twins. Rogers notched 9 saves in 21 appearances, and struck out 24, despite a 4 ERA weakening his WAR numbers.
2021 Prediction: 30 saves and a low ERA again.
Of course, one of the flashiest bullpen options for the Twins continued to be Sergio Romo, who followed up his strong, low-ERA year last year with a more human one with a 4 ERA and some horseplay resulting in an ejection. Romo is still one of the more trusted relievers in the game, but he's beginning to lose his footing while keeping his character fully intact.
2021 Prediction: More setup work somewhere. Maybe the Phils sign him, that'd be something..
In Mitch Garver's absence, the Twins called up Ryan Jeffers to catch for a bit, and he had a heck of an audition, batting .273 with 7 RBIs and 3 homers in 26 games. He seems more of a contact type than Garver, and while he does have 'backup' written all over him, him and Mitch Garver vying for a starting job next year is gonna be interesting.
2021 Prediction: Will get the backup gig, but will still hit .280 with some RBIs.
And after finishing a suspension, Michael Pineda still made some starts for the Twins this year, and did fairly well, with a 2-0 record and a 3.38 ERA in 5 starts, with 25 Ks. Again, his status as an elite fireballer has completely subsided, but he's still useful for a few starts here and there.
A fuller season, but I bet the magic begins to wear off for Pineda here.
Coming Tomorrow- The White Sox team that finally figured out how to make the playoffs.