Minnesota Twins show severe need for improvement

Another disappointing MLB season shows that the Twins need to make several improvements if they hope to be competitive next year.

Jack Feyereisn, Staff Writer

As the Minnesota Twins end the 2016 season with the worst record in Major League Baseball at 59-103, many devoted fans are yet again disappointed in the organization. Late in the season, Twins General Manager Terry Ryan was informed that he would not be returning in 2017. After being rehired in 2011, Ryan endured four unsuccessful seasons with the Twins and became known for his low payroll and tendency to build up the minor league teams.

As October begins, Twins fans begin the all too familiar phase of previewing the upcoming season. Many Twins fans remain optimistic about the 2017 season, however, it’s indisputable that many issues will have to be addressed.

Primarily, and most evidently, the Twins need an adequate starting pitching staff.

— Jack Feyereisn

This year the Minnesota Twins had the second worst pitching staff in the MLB, beating out Arizona. Starters Kyle Gibson, Phil Hughes, and Tommy Milone have all spent significant time on the disabled list, in addition to minor league appearances and rehab assignments. At this point, the only bright spot in the pitching staff has been Ervin Santana, who led the team in games started, quality starts, and innings pitched. But if the Twins expect to win the division or make a post-season run next year, the rest of the starting staff must contribute as well. Ideally, the Twins will need at least three starting pitchers who can regularly pitch into the late innings and lighten the workload of the relief and closing pitchers.

Another problem lies at the opposite end of the pitching staff: the bullpen. Like the rest of the Twins pitching staff, the bullpen has struggled to stay healthy. In April, the Twins suffered a devastating blow when they lost their All-Star Closer Glen Perkins for the remainder of the 2016 season. As a result of constant injuries and frequent poor starts by starting pitchers, the bullpen has endured a tremendous work load and hasn’t been able to keep up with the burden placed on their shoulders.

One positive note for Twins fans: on the offensive side of the ball there is lots of potential for run production. This includes an unexpected forty plus home run season from second baseman Brian Dozier and a Rookie-of-the-Year-worthy performance by right fielder Max Kepler. Although it’s widely accepted that Byron Buxton has the talent to play center fielder, his hitting leaves much to be desired, meaning he will need to continue to prove to the coaching staff that he has what it takes to hit at the big league level. In terms of power and runs batted in, the Twins will look to right handed slugger Miguel Sano as a primary source of the long ball, after a 25 home run year in 2016.

During the offseason the Twins will also have no choice but to look outside of the organization for any key free agents that they believe can contribute to a potential playoff team. But until then, it will be another long offseason for Twins fans.