In a truncated 2020 season, the Minnesota Twins and their fans entered with the hopes that Jose Berrios would continue to stride forward and become a true ace pitcher.
After the season was curtailed in the Wild Card round, two conclusions were inescapable:
- The Twins had an ace in 2020.
- His name was Kenta Maeda.
Maeda stole the spotlight, knocking Berríos to the #2 spot in the postseason rotation, a proper reshuffling due not only to Maeda’s performance. In his 12 starts during the 60-game season, Berríos pitched inconsistently, several of his stats making small but noticeable drops from their 2019 levels. Excluding 2016, his debut season, Berríos hit career worsts in ERA (4.00), FIP (4.06), WHIP (1.317), walk rate (10.5 percent), line drive percentage (24.0 percent), and home run to fly ball ratio (13.1 percent). However, none of these were significantly worse than prior seasons.
And despite the shortened season, Berríos still pitched well in several key areas. Notably, he kept striking out batters. His 25.1 percent strikeout rate was 0.2 percentage points away from his career best, while his 9.71 strikeouts per nine innings was a career best,
Additionally, the defining moment of Berríos’ season was his last, a two-hit, one-run outing against Houston that was detrimentally truncated after five innings and ended with an iconic mound image.
Perhaps Maeda has taken over the ace role, but La Makina is still no slouch. While his annual late-season inconsistencies showed up earlier this year, I’m going to grade him beneficially, as his statistical drop was not as bad as the eye test may have suggested. And if the Twins had ridden his playoff spark, they might not have stopped playing after that day.
How would you grade José Berríos’ 2020 season?
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