The 2018 Minnesota Twins: the good, the bad, and the ugly

MINNEAPOLIS, MN- SEPTEMBER 30: Joe Mauer #7 of the Minnesota Twins looks on and acknowledges the fans prior to catching against the Chicago White Sox on September 30, 2018 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the White Sox 5-4. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN- SEPTEMBER 30: Joe Mauer #7 of the Minnesota Twins looks on and acknowledges the fans prior to catching against the Chicago White Sox on September 30, 2018 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the White Sox 5-4. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /
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MINNEAPOLIS, MN – JUNE 08: Brian Dozier #2 of the Minnesota Twins reacts to striking out against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the game on June 8, 2018 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Angels defeated the Twins 4-2. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

Starting slow

With the injuries and slow starts from multiple players, the Minnesota Twins limped out of the gate in 2018. Of course, the AL Central division in 2018 was arguably the worst overall division in the game, so the Twins were able to remain in first place until April 20th, using defeats of their division rivals in Cleveland as part of the padding for their standing.

The team finished April 1-9 after closing the 20th in first place, and they’d never spend another day in first on the season. While certainly not playing the way they had hoped, the Twins did work their way back to nearly .500 by May 12th before falling off again to close out the month of May.

Veteran performance

With few “big money” players on the 2018 Minnesota Twins, the ones that were under contract for significant cash underperformed heavily.

Before he was lost for the rest of the season, catcher Jason Castro had opened the season with a paltry .143/.257/.238 average over 19 games. Offseason signee Logan Morrison went from one of the American League’s home run leaders in 2017 to hitting .186/.276/.368 over 95 games in 2018 with 15 home runs.

Lance Lynn was brought in after Santana’s injury, and he was a disaster with the Twins, posting a 5.10 ERA over 102 1/3 innings before being traded away midseason. Jake Odorizzi wasn’t a lot better, making 32 starts, but only getting to 164 1/3 innings due to his mammoth struggles the third time through the order leading to a 4.49 ERA.

The bullpen saw struggles from guys that were expected to be excellent in 2018 as well. Trevor Hildenberger was the team’s closer at one stretch in 2017, but he finished the year with a 5.42 ERA in 73 appearances. Addison Reed was signed in the offseason to provide a possible “second closer” with Fernando Rodney, but he pitched to a 4.50 ERA over 55 appearances. Young arms like Alan Busenitz (7.82 ERA) and Tyler Duffy (7.20 ERA) and veteran reliever Matt Belisle (9.13 ERA) were all shuffled in and then quickly back out due to their ineffectiveness.

The struggles of veterans Dozier and Santana were already mentioned and at least had some relation to their injuries.

Polanco’s PEDs

Late in spring, the announcement was made that starting shortstop Jorge Polanco would be opening the season on the restricted list due to a suspension for PEDs. This required the team to shuffle the lineup late in the spring when there really wasn’t a chance to get a solid shortstop option. Polanco hit well upon his return (.288/.345/.427 with 6 HR, 7 SB over 333 PA), but his continued struggles at shortstop defensively could lead to his eventual move from the organization.

Now too more “cheery” things…