The Minnesota Twins might be viewed as a stealth 2023 World Series contender. Not considered to be in the same class as the American League's best teams, the Twins have the best chance of becoming an AL division champion. Making the playoffs is the first step toward winning the World Series, and Minnesota is well on its way to an AL Central title.
The Twins have a seven-game lead on the second-place Cleveland Guardians with 30 games left on the 2023 regular-season schedule. Minnesota is on track to have home-field advantage in a best-of-three wild-card series.
Minnesota's pitching staff is good enough—on paper, at least—to be part of a deep playoff run. The Twins rank eighth in MLB in team ERA. Minnesota has a solid rotation with three starters pitching to a sub-3.70 ERA. After a strong start in his return from injury, Joe Ryan might return to being the most dominant pitcher on the Twins' staff.
There is a belief among many baseball fans that pitching wins championships. It certainly plays a major role, but the Twins' fatal flaw will prevent them from winning the 2023 World Series.
Twins' fatal flaw: Not enough offense
The Twins' offense simply isn't good enough for Minnesota to win the World Series. Even if the Twins had the top pitching staff in MLB, the team probably wouldn't score enough runs to make it out of the American League, let alone with the championship.
Minnesota's offense is no better than average, based on just about any metric. Here's how the Twins rank across the board in the AL: eighth in runs scored per game (4.54), eighth in on-base percentage (.742), seventh in slugging percentage (.422) and 11th in batting average. The strength of Minnesota's lineup is its ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark. The Twins are third in the AL with 185 home runs.
A closer look at the Twins' offensive numbers suggests that Minnesota will have an even more difficult time scoring runs in October.
The Twins lead the AL in strikeouts. Minnesota's .250 batting average with runners in scoring position is only good for 10th in the AL. Every AL team that has a worse batting average with runners in scoring position is going to miss the playoffs. Minnesota also ranks 12th with 68 stolen bases. Add up the Twins' reliance on home runs, their poor timely hitting, their high strikeout rate and their inability to steal bases. It's the perfect recipe for a lineup that will struggle against good playoff pitching.
Minnesota doesn't have a single hitter who is having an outstanding season at the plate. Carlos Correa is supposed to be the star in the middle of the Twins' lineup. Correa is only hitting .226/.309/.398 with 16 home runs. The plantar fasciitis that Correa has played through might be largely to blame, but it doesn't change the fact he hasn't been much of a threat all season long.
The oft-injured Byron Buxton is currently working his way back from another ailment. Buxton has provided power with 17 home runs in 85 games. His .207 batting average and .294 on-base percentage aren't a promising sign for his chances of having a big October.
Catcher Ryan Jeffers is the only Twins' position player who has a WAR of 2.0 or better. Max Kepler's .811 OPS is the highest among all Minnesota players who have at least 250 at-bats. Joey Gallo ranks second with a .740 OPS. Gallo is also batting .177 with a strikeout in more than half of his at-bats.
Ultimately, the Twins' lineup makes winning a World Series a pipe dream for Minnesota.