The Minnesota Twins won the AL Central Division for a second straight year but their season will be considered a disappointment because the team was swept out of the Wild-Card Round rather meekly against the Houston Astros. Rather amazingly, the Twins are now on an 18-game losing streak in playoff games. That’s impossible yet true.
Minnesota Twins | 2020 MLB Expert Analysis
In a three-game division series sweep by the Yankees last year, the Twins totaled seven runs and 22 hits. Against the Astros, they mustered only two runs and seven hits. The Twins’ nine straight playoff series losses mark the third-longest such streak in baseball history, behind 10 by the Chicago Cubs (1910-1998) and Atlanta Braves (2001-active).
Minnesota now has scored two-or-fewer runs in four straight playoff games. In those four games, Minnesota is hitting .175 (22-for-126) with five runs scored, six doubles, one home run, 15 walks and 36 strikeouts.
The Twins were held without a home run for five consecutive games across the regular season and postseason to conclude their 2020 campaign. During the regular season, their longest longball draught was two games from August 3-4 vs. Pittsburgh. Minnesota’s last regular season homer hiatus of at least five games ranged from October 1, 2015 (final game of the season) to April 4, 2016 (first four games of the campaign).
The team finished its 60th season in Minnesota with a regular-season record of 36-24, winning the American League Central on the season’s final day. They finished 1.0 game ahead of both the Cleveland Guardians (35-25) and Chicago White Sox (35-25). It marked their second straight AL Central title and eighth in club history (2002, ’03, ’04, ’06, ’09, ’10 & ’19). Prior to the current divisional alignment, the Twins won the AL Western Division four times (1969, ’70, ’87 & ’91).
The Twins finished the regular season with a record of 24-7 at home, the best mark in the majors. Prior to this season, the Twins/Senators’ best franchise winning percentages at home were set by the 1930 Senators (56-21, .727), 1931 Senators (55-22, .714), 1925 Senators (53-22, .707) and the 1969 Twins (57-24, .704). Minnesota’s .774 home win percentage was 11th best mark in MLB history. The Twins never lost back-to-back games at home in 2020.
Nelson Cruz had a terrific season in hitting .303 (56-for-185) with six doubles, 16 home runs, 33 RBI, 33 runs scored, 25 walks, a .397 on-base percentage, a .595 slugging percentage and a .992 OPS in 53 games. Among AL players, he finished third in on-base percentage, fourth in OPS, fifth in slugging, tied for fifth in home runs, seventh in batting average and tied for ninth in total bases (110). Cruz’s OPS was the fourth best all-time among players age 39-or-older, trailing just Barry Bonds (1.422 in 2004), Ted Williams (1.042 in 1958) and David Ortiz (1.021 in 2016).
Cruz is now a free agent and wants a two-year deal to return. At present, the uncertainty surrounding the universal DH keeps Cruz’s market fairly small. He’s played just nine games in the field since Opening Day 2017 and never played the outfield for the Twins. If the MLBPA and the league agree to implement a designated hitter in both leagues, Cruz’s market would expand immensely.
As great and elite as Cruz looked for the vast majority of his time here, he is at an age where baseball players can lose it very quickly. And in the final weeks of the 2020 season, the 40-year-old started to look his age in a hurry.
“We’ve been in contact with him for sure. The feeling is mutual. We don’t feel any differently than Nellie does. We see a fit for him here, and we’re hopeful that can work out. We’ll stay in very close contact for sure,” Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said recently of bringing back Cruz.
In addition, Marwin Gonzalez, Jake Odorizzi, Alex Avila, Rich Hill, Tyler Clippard, Trevor May, Ehire Adrianza and Homer Bailey (who was designated for assignment at the end of the regular season) are bound for free agency. Gonzalez, Avila, Hill, Clippard, May, Adrianza and Bailey are eligible for a qualifying offer, but none appear likely to receive the one-year contract. The deadline for clubs to extend the qualifying offer is five days after the conclusion of the World Series.
Reliever Sergio Romo is the only player with a 2021 option. The Twins hold a $5 million club option for the veteran reliever with a $250,000 buyout.
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