The Minnesota Twins are doing everything they can to shed their image as an overall loser. They have been known as a playoff disappointment in recent memory, and that’s only when they can actually make the postseason. After making one of the biggest splashes of the offseason with Carlos Correa and making moves at the trade deadline, they are still not an elite team.
The Twins are currently 62-60, four games back of the Cleveland Guardians in the AL Central standings. They are trailing in the Wild Card race, leaving a division title as the only viable route to the postseason. Even though they have been dealing with injuries, a team that is going so hard to win should not have just a 17-percent chance to make the postseason.
Minnesota fans should be happy with the progress the Twins have made this season but should keep in mind that the team is still not yet a true World Series contender.
Are the Twins 2022 World Series contenders or pretenders?
Although the Twis have tons of talented players, they aren’t deep enough to make a run for a World Series.
Let’s start with Byron Buxton, the team’s superstar. The center fielder is undoubtedly one of the best players in the sport but has one key flaw: he is not very good at getting on base. Even with a career-high walk rate of 8.9 percent, he has a below-average .306 OBP this season, which will leave him in a tough spot in the postseason against better pitching.
Buxton’s power should still make him tough to deal with in the postseason and is not the only strong bat that the Twins have. Luis Arraez’s high-contact, low-strikeout approach at the plate is infuriating for opposing pitchers. Carlos Correa has been a big-time playoff performer throughout his career. Jorge Polanco, Nick Gordon and rookie Jose Miranda have also been key in generating one of the best offensive teams in baseball.
Even though the Twins are above average at getting on base and hitting for power, their offense has scored just 0.07 runs more than the league average. Still, they should be able to put up runs in the postseason because the lineup is so deep. Even though they don’t have an abundance of truly elite hitters, they have plenty of good ones led by two All-Stars.
The area truly holding the Twins back is pitching. On the mound, they are simply bad as a collective unit. They are just outside the top-10 highest ERAs and surrender a good amount of barrels to opposing hitters, per Statcast. Minnesota pitchers get hit hard too often to be relied upon for a postseason run. Although the unit is good at preventing walks, they don’t register a ton of strikeouts and are awful at generating weak contact.
Sonny Gray and Tyler Mahle are the only starters to post an ERA below 3.5 and the latter name is currently dealing with an injury. The bullpen behind them is not super reliable despite adding All-Star Jorge Lopez and Michael Fulmer. Since the All-Star break, the team has an ERA north of four.
Gray and Mahle are fine options at the top of the rotation but have little room for error. Bailey Ober making a September return would be a big help but it wouldn’t be enough to transform Minnesota’s pitching. The Twins simply don’t have the rotation depth to handle long playoff series or the bullpen options to back them up well.
The Twins have the benefit of playing in one of the weakest divisions in baseball but haven’t even been good enough to separate themselves from the pack. They pretty much have to beat Cleveland in the standings in order to make the playoffs, as numerous other teams in the American League have a better record.
World Series contenders are more than just their record but the fact that Minnesota is so close to a .500 record right now is concerning. Most of their key players are healthy and the ones that aren’t are dealing with injuries that won’t sideline them for the postseason.
The Twins are on their third straight month of posting a losing record after opening the season with two strong months. They have posted a shutout the same amount of times that they themselves were shut out (12) and have to play five of their final eight games against the Guardians on the road.
In any other division in MLB, the Twins would currently be a third-place team at best. No team this far out from securing a playoff spot should be considered a World Series contender.