This season, the Minnesota Twins are a good roster. Not a great one, mind you (they seem destined to win 92 games before crapping out in the playoffs to the Yankees for the 100th time), but a very good one all the same. And in the pillow fight that is the AL Central, good is good enough. That is to say that, at 29-27, they might not be winning but they're definitely Twinning, positioning themselves a playoff lock but without posing any real danger to make the World Series.
Still, this is a talented team—perhaps the Twins' most talented roster in many seasons—stocked with high level talent such as Byron Buxton and Carlos Correa. Even as the Twins float atop the division, there's the sense that they should be better. As such, here are the three Twins who haven't quite lived up to expectations so far this season.
If it were up to Correa, he wouldn't even be in Minnesota. In the offseason, Correa agreed to a 13 year, $350 million contract with the San Francisco Giants, only to have it scuttled by concerns over about Correa's surgically reconstructed knee. Then, he agreed to a 12 year, $315 million deal with the New York Mets, but that fell through as well. Without any other real options, Correa struck an eight year, $280 million deal to stay with the Twins, who were the consolation prize to his original consolation prize.
Since reupping with the Twins, Correa has stunk. Despite being a highly pedigreed star in the middle of his putative prime, Correa has been one of the least effective starting shortstops in Major League Baseball. Through 48 games, he's hit a concerning .211 with only six home runs and 24 runs batted in and produced a .682 OPS (89 OPS+). Already, he's ground into nine double plays, the most in the American League, giving him the ignominious distinction of being one of the few players to get doubled up more often than they go deep.
While this can probably just be chalked up as a prolonged slump for an otherwise excellent player, it's still concerning from the highest paid player in Twins history. Whereas a team like the Yankees or Dodgers has the financial bandwidth to withstand an underperforming top earner, the Twins are banking on Correa to play like a star because they don't have other options on their roster.
Buxton is a special case: he could be the best player in baseball, yet his body seems physically incapable of playing baseball for any prolonged stretch. In an attempt to keep Buxton healthy for as long as possible, the Twins have taken the game's most breathtaking athlete and turned him into a three-true outcome brute. At his best, Buxton was an elite defender and baserunner, one of the true five tool players in the game, a power-hitting, base-stealing, Gold Glove winner in center field. In 2021 and 2022, Buxton played just 153 combined games, but produced 8.6 WAR over that span, which is the equivalent an MVP-caliber season, albeit spread out across two years.
This year, the Twins have tried to preserve Buxton by bumping him from center field, slotting him in as their permanent designated hitter. If sustained greatness isn't possible, they've decided to settle for more dependable goodness. Although Buxton has been reasonably productive at the plate (10 home runs, 23 runs batted in, 113 OPS+), this is just a sliver of the player he could be and has previously been; he's the baseball equivalent of a Michelin starred chef forced to only cook hot dogs and buttered noodles. To be sure, this constrained role is probably a necessity, but it's a frustrating one all the same.
In one of the offseason's most interesting moves, the Twins sent reigning batting champ Luis Arraez to the Marlins in exchange for Pablo Lopez. The logic was simple: the Twins have a surplus of productive hitters, but have struggled for years to complement their strong lineup with an equally productive pitching rotation. As a Marlin, Lopez established himself as a potential hidden ace—with the right tweaks, it was easy to imagine Lopez leveling up to become an elite hurler. Although his stats were always merely good rather than outstanding, he threw five distinct pitches, all of which boasted elite vertical movement.
So far, the Twins, like the Marlins, have not yet figured out how to unlock the best version of Lopez. He's been solid, good even, just as he has been for years. His 4.11 ERA is inoffensive, albeit a skosh below his usual standard; his underlying metrics are superb, yet haven't translated into superb actual results. What makes the Lopez especially frustrating, though, is that Arraez has absolutely raked in Florida, posting a MLB-best .376 batting average and .432 on base percentage.