In 2011, the injury bug bit hard, taking its toll on the Twins. Mauer and Morneau lost significant time, the team was not the same defensively (or offensively) without J.J. Hardy at Short, and the pitching took a step back. It was a disaster by all accounts and the Twins lost more than 90 games. An unexpected gut punch that tossed the Twins into rebuilding mode.
The less said about 2012, 2013, and 2014, the better. Just sad, uninspired, and barely watchable baseball.
Fast forward to 2015, and here is the opening day lineup:
SS Danny Santana
2B Brian Dozier
1B Joe Mauer
RF Torii Hunter
DH Kennys Vargas
3B Trevor Plouffe
LF Oswaldo Arcia
C Kurt Suzuki
CF Jordan Schafer
P Phil Hughes
Also appearing in game 1 of the 2015 season, Reliever J.R. Graham and Eduardo Escobar, who pinch hit for Schafer.
|Nolasco had a great May before being injured, Gibson struggled to stay consistent|
The Rotation to start the season also featured Ricky Nolasco, Kyle Gibson, Tommy Milone, and Mike Pelfrey. Noticeably absent was new free agent acquisition Ervin Santana, who tested positive for a PED and missed the first half of 2015 due to a suspension.
Closer Glen Perkins was perfect in the first half, may have injured himself in the All-Star Game, and finished the year as a late inning set up man for Kevin Jepsen.
Trevor May began the season in AAA, replaced Tommy Milone in the rotation, and was the Twins' best starter in the first half. He ultimately moved to the bullpen to become one of the team's best arms in the late innings.
The Twins fell hard out of the gate, starting the season 1-6. It looked like all of the changes to the coaching staff and the Rotation would be for naught. They started to turn things around in May however, and 2015 became a season to remember.
3 Rookies in particular led the Twins to contention for the first time since 2010:
And Tyler Duffey. (psst. I don't have any Tyler Duffey cards - thanks, Topps.)
The #1 Prospect in Baseball also made his debut, to mixed results. Byron Buxton did manage to hit his first two major league homers in the final week of the season, as well as providing elite defense in Center Field.
The Twins also got a big boost from Aaron Hicks, who finally started to figure out MLB pitching in his third season in the big leagues.
Just wait til next year, when Jose Berrios makes it to the show, Buxton and Sano have their first full season together in the majors, and the rest of the team is a year older and more experienced! The 2015 Post Season will be a lot of fun to watch, but I will already be thinking about 2016, just a little bit.