The 2016 Minnesota Twins were the worst team in all of baseball and the worst team in the history of the Twins franchise. So yeah, it’s a good thing that it’s over. There’s not a lot of positives you can take from being the worst team in baseball. That We’ll try to find the few positives of having this kind of season. Look at the bottom of the cover picture, that’s the Twins 2016 season game-by-game with the upward lines (green) being wins and the downward lines (red) being losses. Don’t look too long, though. Depression might set in.
The Bad, The Worse and The Ugly
After an 83-79 season in 2015 where they missed the playoffs by 3 games, you’d think a team could build off that, right? For some reason, the 2016 Minnesota Twins couldn’t get it done. They couldn’t get out of a losing funk that started with the first series in Baltimore and would last for the majority of the season. It started badly. It got worse and it was ugly.
They’d end up losing their first 9 games. Surprisingly, the pitching wasn’t that bad in that stretch, at least collectively. They had a staff ERA of 4.20 in those games but the offense would only score a total of 14 runs in those 9 games. There is no possible way to win if you score 1.5 runs/game and give up 4.2 runs/game. Throw away that recipe. It doesn’t sound good or look good. I don’t want to know how it smells or tastes.
Most people considered the Twins season done after that start but I still had hope. I’m a positive person and with 153 games left in a season, I thought this team still had a chance to be competitive. They’d win their next 4 games in a row then proceed to win only 4 of their next 21 games. That 4-game winning streak would equal their longest winning streak of the season, something they’d do 2 more times. Their longest losing streak was 13 games. They would also have a 7-game and an 8-game losing streak to add to that opening season 9-game streak. That’s 37 losses right there.
Is it Contagious?
There’s a saying in baseball, “good hitting is contagious.” First of all, the word contagious rarely means anything good. If you hear someone might be or is contagious, you don’t usually run to that person and see what they have because it might be something good. “Hey, I heard you were contagious. What do you have? Dangit, now I’m sick and contagious, too.” So, when I think of the word contagious in baseball, I would think of something like bad hitting, bad pitching and losing.
It has been said a few times that “losing a disease.”* I believe losing is contagious. A losing team will find ways to lose. They’ll lose games in some of the craziest ways because they’ve been losing. If the slightest thing happens in a game to turn the tides, it’s like here we go again. You can see teams start to hang their heads. The good teams find ways to get over those things and stop losing.
This Twins team was in a losing funk most of the season, losing games they should have won for whatever reason. Was the reason because they were a losing team and just couldn’t get out of that losing mode?
If you look at the 1st month of the season, if the offense would’ve scored more than 3 runs a game, who knows what could’ve happened. After that first month, the Twins offense scored 642 runs in 138 games. That comes out to 4.65 runs per game. That’s enough to win games as long as you have good pitching but, as Twins fans know, the Minnesota Twins haven’t had good pitching for quite awhile now.
The 2016 Twins didn’t respond to one loss with a win until July 5th vs Oakland. It took until game 83, over half the season, for this team to not lose consecutive games after losing one game. The very next day they won consecutive series for the first time. Not surprisingly, that’s when they were playing their best baseball of the season. In the month of July, they went 15-11, scored 144 runs (5.54/game) and only gave up 111 runs (4.27/game.)
Talk about your outlier month of baseball
If you kept watching all season long, you probably know what also happened about that time that might have gotten the team going a little before July. Brian Dozier began his historic career tear of hitting the baseball better than he ever has before.
History with a Bat
Think of this, through April & May, Brian Dozier was hitting .202/.294/.329 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 21 runs, 35 hits, 7 doubles, 5 home runs, 3 stolen bases and 18 walks with 35 strikeouts. That’s about as ugly as it gets from one of the players you are counting on to be productive and lead your team. It may have been historically bad, actually. I don’t want to look.
Now look at the rest of his season:
In almost every month after that horrid start, he had almost the same numbers, if not more, as he had in the first TWO months of the season. He always had more extra-base hits, home runs and RBIs (minus July.) In 109 games, he scored 83 runs, had 130 hits with 28 doubles, 5 triples, 37 home runs, 82 RBIs and 15 stolen bases with 43 walks and 113 strikeouts. Too bad it came in the worst season of his team’s history. Could the Twins trade Brian Dozier after that kind of a comeback? Should they?
The Changing of the Guard
Depending on how you feel about this franchise and how it’s been managed since the ‘91 World Series, maybe this is what this team needed to finally make a change from the old school ways that may have put them in this mess in the first place.
Twins General Manager Terry Ryan was fired in July. Later, we found out the Twins were searching for a presidential-level executive who will have authority over all baseball decisions and that person would hire the next General Manager. Are the Twins finally making the move to the modern day development of a baseball organization? It appears so.
On October 3rd, the Twins announced the hiring of Derek Falvey as their new Chief Baseball Officer. Mr. Falvey comes from the Cleveland Indians organization of which he has been a part of for 9 years. Hired in 2007 as an intern, he assisted in amateur and international scouting for 3 years then spent 2011 as the assistant director of baseball operations. He was then named the director of baseball operations where he focused on player personnel and acquisitions. He held that role until he was named assistant GM last year.
He has helped the Indians in all areas of baseball operations and also assists manager Terry Francona and his staff on a daily basis. Francona has called him a rising star but the thing that should get Twins fans excited is when Francona said this, “Over the course of time, because he’s a hardworking kid, he made it his, probably his passion, to understand pitching and the delivery…”
Pitching is the Minnesota Twins greatest need and has been for a long time. It is why they’ve had to resort to signing free agent pitchers like Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes and Ervin Santana. Obviously, that hasn’t worked out well. Any Twins pitcher should be excited about this as well. They should all get a fresh start because they will be looked at from the perspective of new eyes of a person who has helped the Cleveland Indians achieve success with its pitchers in a variety of ways.
I’ve probably spent too much time talking about the 2016 Twins season. Now, you don’t have to go home but you can’t watch Twins baseball for awhile. Even though it was hard to watch Twins baseball this season, it was still Twins baseball and I’ll miss it until next April 3rd when they open the 2017 season at home against the Kansas City Royals.
Heck, I’ll miss it until Pitchers and Catchers report in February, until the winter meetings or until 5 days after the World Series ends and free agency begins sometime in the first week of November. This might be the most interesting offseason in Twins history because of the change at the top and what’s to come with a new General Manager, a new coaching staff, new acquisitions, possible trades and the beginning of a new era of Twins Baseball!