Nearing the end of June, officially the third month of the 2015 Major League Baseball season, there are few teams that are wanting the calendar to turn more than the Minnesota Twins. After a 20-7 month of May, Minnesota has compiled just a 7-13 mark in June. Having been swept twice with three series to go this month, things have been less than desirable. However, it's far from time to consider the Twins current struggles a free fall.
Going into the season, most publications and outlets had the Twins as the worst team in the AL Central. That's not so much to say that Minnesota wouldn't be better, but rather indicative of the strength of the division as a whole. While some still suggested that Minnesota would stumble to 90 losses, most had the Twins somewhere around the 74 win threshold. Now 69 games in, the narrative hasn't followed that script.
To this point, the Twins have held titles as the AL Central division leader, the best team in the American League, and arguably the most surprising team in all of baseball. Due to timely hitting, more respectable pitching, and a lot of breaks going there way, Minnesota was able to capitalize on their situation. As baseball always has a way of doing, the sport has sense started to even the Twins ways back towards the mean.
Offensive production has been the biggest struggle for the Twins in June. After averaging 5.15 runs per game in the month of May, the Twins have scraped by to score just 2.75 runs per game during June. On top of the lower average, Minnesota has scored three runs or less 15 times in just 20 games this month. The Twins have also been shutout three times in June, matching the total of April and May combined.
As much as the Twins have struggled on offense, it also hasn't helped the club to see a greater challenge on the other side of the diamond. In June, the Twins have played five out of seven series against teams with winning records. In May, Minnesota played just four out of nine series against winning teams. Looking at the situation as a whole, the downfall has been a combination of a perfect storm.
Putting things into perspective however, Minnesota is far from a free fall, and needs to weather the current struggles. Still five games over the .500 mark, and just 3.5 games out of first in the AL Central, the Twins are within striking distance.
The youth movement began with Byron Buxton's promotion to the big leagues a little over a week ago. While the excitement was there, the fact that Buxton will take time has been on full display. Though he should eventually be an offensive asset, hitting right around .100 currently, that may not be on full display until 2016. Fixing the offensive woes is going to take more than one person stepping up.
Paul Molitor and Terry Ryan could look to provide another remedy by inserting the power hitting Miguel Sano into the middle of the Twins lineup. A team void of a .300 hitter, and with a leadoff man leading the club in home runs, Sano would provide an immediate boost. With players such as Trevor Plouffe and Joe Mauer struggling, the Twins need help in the heart of the order.
If Minnesota can find ways to dig themselves out of their current slide, things will remain on an upward trajectory. Still with plenty of season left, and a .500 record being a big win when game 162 rolls around, Minnesota has plenty of opportunity to continue to surprise. After racing out to such a strong second month, the Twins have afforded themselves some breathing room. How they go about handling their current struggles, and how quickly they are fixed, will determine how the rest of the summer plays out.