Five Keys to the Twins' Success
Offensive effectiveness must improve
The Twins had only 291 singles, 81 doubles and three triples in 2020, numbers that extrapolate to 791 singles, 219 doubles and seven triples over a 162-game season. That would represent the lowest number of singles and triples in team history, and the fewest doubles since 1974. Home runs are nice, but the Bomba Squad needs to get more baserunners across the plate the old-fashioned way. And a spring training offensive slump only adds to the concern.
Injuries can't crop up at the wrong time
The Twins played their final playoff game against Houston without third baseman Josh Donaldson (calf) and center fielder Byron Buxton (undisclosed) in the starting lineup, and catcher Mitch Garver's intercostal strain cost him his starting job. Shortstop Jorge Polanco struggled through September because of an ankle injury as well. No offense in the playoffs meant the postseason losing streak soared to an MLB-record 18 games.
Someone — anyone — has to put out fires
By the end of last season, the Twins were forced to use Sergio Romo to protect leads when Taylor Rogers faltered. Former closers Alex Colome (White Sox) and Hansel Robles (Angels) were signed as free agents, giving manager Rocco Baldelli options. But you know what they say about quarterbacks — if you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterbacks. You can bet Baldelli would love to see one dependable closer emerge.
Rosario's replacement emerges
Eddie Rosario lost his temper and was tossed out of the Twins' final playoff game at a critical time, ending his stay in Minnesota, as it turns out. He was signed by Cleveland for a bargain ($8 million) after the Twins decided not to risk arbitration with him. But who will replace a guy who, despite his propensity for making interesting decisions in the field and on the base paths, hit 32 homers and drove in 109 runs in 2019? Eventually, it should be Alex Kirilloff … but his spring struggles showed he needs time in the minors.
The clock will slow down
Nelson Cruz has been a godsend for the Twins, both on the field as a powerful designated hitter and in the clubhouse as an unquestioned leader. In two seasons here, Cruz, now the third-oldest player in the majors, has batted .308 with 57 home runs and 141 RBI in 173 games. He will be 41 on July 1, however, and no major league player has ever hit 40 homers after his 40th birthday. Is the clock ticking on Nellie?