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After spending much of season leading AL Central, Twins wilt in disappointing final month

The Twins led the Central division for 108 days during the season. The last came on Sept. 4, when they pulled back into a tie with the Guardians atop the division. They finished the season in third place with a 78-84 record, 14 games behind Cleveland and three behind Chicago.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins catcher Gary Sanchez reacts after striking out against the Chicago White Sox in the ninth inning Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago.
Kamil Krzaczynski / USA Today Sports
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CHICAGO — On the morning of March 19, after watching the front office work feverishly to reshape a last-place team into a contender in the days following the end of the lockout, Minnesota Twins fans awoke to shocking news.

Overnight, Carlos Correa, the biggest free agent on the market, had agreed to a deal with the Twins, the clearest sign of all that the Twins were aggressively trying to go for it in 2022. Amid a sell-off at the 2021 trade deadline, president of baseball operations Derek Falvey was quick to say the team was refreshing and retooling — not rebuilding.

And by agreeing to a deal worth $105.3 million across three years (Correa has an opt out after both) with the star shortstop, Falvey was putting the Twins’ money where his mouth was. The Twins again made a push at the trade deadline, when they reached Aug. 2 in first place in the American League Central division. They were one of the most forceful teams in the majors in their efforts to supplement the roster — and certainly the most active in their division.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Detroit Tigers
Minnesota Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, right, talks with relief pitcher Trevor Megill before pulling him from the game Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, against the Detroit Tigers.
Lon Horwedel / USA Today Sports

But while the intention was there, the results, ultimately, were not. The 2022 season ended Wednesday with the Twins’ 10-1 win over the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field and Luis Arraez sealing the American League batting title, but with no postseason trip in sight after a Twins team wracked by injuries disintegrated in the final month of the season.

“It’s definitely been a tough month,” Correa said. “But at the same time, you’ve also got to realize that any team that’s in the playoffs right now without their core players and best players playing every day, they’ll probably miss the playoffs, too. It’s tough. We lost a lot of great guys, a lot of great players that are top players in the league. It’s just hard to come back from.”

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The Twins led the Central division for 108 days during the season. The last came on Sept. 4, when they pulled back into a tie with the Guardians atop the division. They finished the season in third place with a 78-84 record, 14 games behind Cleveland and three behind Chicago.

Much, though not all, of the collapse can be attributed to injuries.

Byron Buxton, an all-star for the first time, did not play in a game after Aug. 22. The star center fielder’s season ended with arthroscopic knee surgery to address an issue that plagued him throughout the course of the season. Jorge Polanco didn’t play a game in September, either, and Max Kepler played in just a handful. Tyler Mahle, the biggest trade deadline acquisition, made just four starts after the trade — and two were cut short by a shoulder issue.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Minnesota Twins
Minnesota Twins outfielder Byron Buxton (25) runs to third on Aug. 3, 2022, against the Detroit Tigers on a single hit by infielder Jorge Polanco (not pictured) during the eighth inning at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Nick Wosika / USA Today Sports

During the most critical month of the season, the roster was depleted by injuries, lacking the firepower to compete with the Guardians, and so a season that started with so much promise, finished with the Twins falling far, far short of their goals.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Minnesota Twins
Minnesota Twins right fielder Max Kepler fields a fly ball Aug. 29, 2022, against the Boston Red Sox at Target Field.
Brad Rempel / USA Today Sports

“It feels like a tragedy because we have the players here and the ability and everything that we felt like we needed to get where we needed to be, to get to be a playoff-caliber team,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We played five months of competitive baseball. It wasn’t all perfect, but we played five months of good, competitive baseball. We grinded it out. We got ourselves to a good spot going into September. And then a lot of things went the wrong way.”

Twins-mugs-Byron-Buxton-2022.png
Byron Buxton
twins-mugs-max-kepler-2022.png
Max Kepler

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This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

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