Why there's plenty to be proud of about the 2019 Twins

2019 was a special year for the Twins.
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TC Bear

The 2019 Twins season ended prematurely at the hands of the evil empire that is the New York Yankees.

But not all is lost, even though we hang our heads in disappointment right now, this was one of the most succesful Twins teams ever. 

From home runs to breakout seasons by many individuals, there's plenty to be proud of with what transpired at Target Field.

Home run record

For a team that has never been known for power, the fact the Twins broke the major league home run record is astonishing. 

Minnesota finished with 307 long balls, and even though four other teams also broke the previous mark held by last year's New York Yankees, it doesn't take away from the feat. 

Eight Twins players had 20 or more home runs, which had never been done before by any team. 

  • Nelson Cruz 41 
  • Max Kepler 36 
  • Miguel Sano 34 
  • Eddie Rosario 32 
  • Mitch Garver 31 
  • C.J. Cron 25 
  • Jonathan Schoop 23 
  • Jorge Polanco 22

Keep in mind that from 1987 to 2006 the Twins didn't have a single 30-homer batter and that was during a time when steroids reigned supreme. 

Not to mention, we got a cool nickname out of the season. Long live the Bomba Squad. 

Max Kepler's breakout season

This season we also saw Max Kepler blossom into the star scouts have been waiting to see. 

After three consecutive seasons where Kepler never posted an OPS above .737, the German took a big monstrous step in the right direction by slashing .252/.336/.519 (.855 OPS) with 36 home runs, 32 doubles, 90 RBI, 60 walks and 99 strikeouts.

If Kepler didn't get hurt towards the end of the season – where was dealing with a barrage of injuries – he probably could've earned some MVP votes. 

With the constant hype fans hear about Buxton and Sano, it's refreshing to see Kepler actually come through on his potential.

Garver puts it all together

Before this season, we all knew Garver was a solid offensive player but his defense needed vast improvement. Well not only did his defense improve, but he became an even better hitter.

In 2018, Garver was one of the worst defensive backstops in the game but this year he improved his pitch framing dramatically and also threw out 27 percent of would-be base stealers. 

Despite only playing in 93 games, Garver slugged 31 home runs and his .630 slugging percentage is the best mark by any catcher in MLB history. 

He'll turn 29 in January, but the Twins have their catcher of the future locked up for the foreseeable future.

Miguel Sano's surge

Despite missing the first six weeks of the season and hitting a low point on June 27 when his batting average dipped below .200, Miguel Sano turned into a monster from July on.

Sano finished the season with 34 home runs, and his final 74 games were absurd as he slashed .271/.376/.618 (.994 OPS). 

Even though he was still striking out a ton and his defense was shaky at third base, it's obvious Sano has the ability to hit 40-50 home runs if he can stay healthy for 162 games. 

Taylor Rogers entered elite territory

The Twins bullpen had its ups and downs, but the one sure thing was Taylor Rogers. 

In 69 innings, Rogers had an impressive 2.61 ERA and struck out 32% of the batters he faced.

For a bit of context, Kenley Jansen, one of the best closers in the game in recent years, struck out 30% of the batters he faced this season for the Dodgers.

The bullpen obviously needs some help to back him up, but Rogers is arguably the best Twins reliever since the Joe Nathan era. 

Luis Arraez

The Twins have one of the better farm systems in baseball but it's safe to assume no one could've predicted that Luis Arraez would be the one to explode onto the scene.

Arraez wasn't even a top-10 preseason prospect, but in 55 games Arraez slashed .334/.399/.439 while playing all over the diamond.

He spent time at second base, third base, shortstop and even left field. 

It appears second base will be permanent home, which is a position that typically features replacement-level production. With his impressive season in 2019, it's safe to say he'll be holding down the spot for a long time.

Free agent signings come through

If you ask any Minnesota sports fan what their biggest gripe about the Twins is 10 out of 10 fans will argue that they're never active enough in free agency, and that free agents they do sign don't pan out. 

That was not the case in 2019 as this year's free-agent class turned out to be home runs (pun intended). 

Nelson Cruz proved that age didn't matter as the 38-year-old clubbed 41 home runs and was probably the heart and soul of this year's team.

Marwin Gonzalez, who was signed late into spring training, was also as advertised, providing position flexibility at first base, third base, right field and left field, while also having solid pop in his bat (34 extra-base hits in 114 games).

Jonathan Schoop held down second base for the majority of the season while slapping out 23 home runs (67 extra-base hits) in 121 games.

C.J. Cron, who was a waiver pickup despite a 30-homer season with Tampa Bay in 2018, gave the Twins solid defense at first base with 25 home runs and 78 RBI in 125 games.

Could they have added a starting pitcher (or three)? Absolutely. But the Twins' front office got more value out its free-agent signings than the majority of teams ever do.

So that's still plenty to be proud of and hopefully this is the foundation of a new winning era of Twins baseball. 

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