2014 Twins: 70-92(Last place AL Central)
2014 did not go well for the Minnesota Twins. The Twins’ rotation was an absolute disaster outside of Phil Hughes, who had a career year. Hughes’ lowest BB/9 before last year was 2.15, yet he posted a 0.69 BB/9 with an astonishingly low 16 walks all year. That walk rate fueled a record breaking(previously held by Bret Saberhagen’s 11.00 of 1994) 11.63 K/BB rate. Unfortunately, after Hughes, it went downhill fast. Ricky Nolasco was signed to a 4 year $49 million contract and ended up pitching 159 innings with a 5.38 ERA(4.30 FIP). Kyle Gibson was the second best pitcher on the staff throwing 179.1 innings with a 4.47 ERA (3.80FIP). After that it’s a dumpster fire of 9 pitchers that started at least 3 games.
The offense was a different story. Although not a top notch offense, the Twins did finish 6th in the AL in runs scored. Brian Dozier, in his age 27 season, had a great year. With 23 HR and 21 steals he showed that he can contribute in many ways offensively. Joe Mauer continued to be an OBP machine(.361 in 2014) but he lacks any power that he once had. In limited time outfielders Danny Santana(also plays some at SS) and Oswaldo Arcia showed promise. Kennys Vargas only had 234 PA yet hit 9 HR while posting a .456 slugging percentage.
Down on the farm both of the Twins top prospects, Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano, suffered season ending injuries. Top pitching prospect, Jose Berrios, started in high A and finished the season with one appearance at AAA Rochester. Starting pitcher Alex Meyer posted a 10.57 K/9 in 27 starts in AAA.
After his impressive 2015 peformance, Phil Hughes was given a three year extention(‘17-’19). The Twins only lost one player during the offseason. Reliever Jarod Burton’s 2015 option was declined and he signed a minor league deal with the New York Yankees. The Twins signed starter Ervin Santana to a 4 year $54 million deal in December hoping he will add some stability behind Hughes. The Twins brought back veteran Torii Hunter on a one year deal after his 7 years away from the team that drafted him.
The Twins are stuck in a tough division with the AL Champion Kansas City Royals, the stacked Detroit Tigers, the improving Cleveland Indians, and the revamped Chicago White Sox. They are probably still two years away from competing in the division and most likely are looking at another cellar dwelling season.
They will hope to see continued improvements from Dozier, Vargas, Santana, and Arcia. The signing of Santana should give them a more stable top of the rotation and with Alex Meyer knocking on the door there is a glimmer of hope.
Down on the Farm:
According to Baseball Prospectus, the Twins have the second best farm system in all of baseball. The Twins are drafting 6th overall in the 2015 amateur draft and should be a fun system to follow.