Okay, so THAT didn’t go like we thought it would. What the hell happened? A few thoughts:
Injuries: In the first month, Perkins, the AllStar closer was injured and it turned out he would be lost for the season (was 28 for 28 in save opps before the AllStar break in 2015. Twins would have 12 blown saves by the break this year). Best starter (Santana) and projected #2 (Gibson) went down, Gibson for an extended period. #3 starter PhIl Hughes was ineffective and it turned out he needed rib surgery and was lost for the year. Trevor Plouffe, a solid run-producer got smokin’-hot for 5 games only to suffer a pulled oblique, go on the DL and spend the rest of the year in and out of the lineup. Starting SS Escobar was shelved for an extended period as was Danny Santana (though these last two injuries led to some exciting baseball from Eduardo Nunez!). In reality we would be hard pressed to expect much out of a first month of a season that saw the closer and #3 starter have season-ending ailments and #’s 1 and 2 miss significant time.
Performance: Swing and a miss. Despite the fact that I believe few teams would have been able to recover fully from the rash of injuries, few players lived up to expectations the first 2 months and fewer still for a full season.
Offensively, the 2016 expectations were built on key young players’ 2015 performances being the standard. We could imagine Rosario and Sano doing at least what they did in 2015 and then taking the next step in their development, as well. It was hoped that Byron Buxton would emerge in 2016 as the star that he will someday be–probably now 2017. The offense needed both Plouffe and Sano to be in the lineup everyday–which led to the Sano RF oops and then Plouffe was beset with injuries. Park struggled, Rosario struggled, Buxton struggled and Sano still has a ways to go for the Twins to realize his run production promise. The bright spot in the lineup, of course, was Dozier who had a dazzling season despite hitting .200 well into May.
Pitching: it is a truism in baseball that a team will play the way it pitches. Enough said. Gibson did not take the next step, nor did Duffey. Nor has Berrios–yet. Hughes didn’t pitch. In the bullpen, the anticipated 7-8-9 inning shutdown trio of May, Jepsen, Perkins never materialized, which left Paul Molitor scrambling to cobble together a group to pitch the end of games–problem was the starters inability lengthened the end of the game innings. The bullpen had only 26 saves and blew a whopping 20!
To say the least, missed expectations after the success of 2015 abounded this year. What are the solutions? Good discussion for the next posts…
Also…it’s the post season! Lots of great stuff to talk about. Let me know what’s on your mind…