We’re back at it! Last fall and winter, Twinkie Town writers graded every Minnesota Twins player that touched the field during a game in a Twins uni in 2019. (If you’re interested in those, click here.) The series this offseason will grade the individual performances of each player from 2020, who will receive a classic grade on the scale of A through F based on their hitting, fielding, and whatever else the author wants to consider. I’m kicking things off with starting pitcher Kenta Maeda.
Remember eight months ago back in February (yes, eight months, not eight years) when the Twins, Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Boston Red Sox were part of a three-team trade? But then the Red Sox said, “Wait a moment...”? And then they said, “We want MOAR!”? Then Falvine was all, “lol wut”? After that, the Dodgers and the Twins were doing their own thing, and finally Kenta Maeda was traded to Minnesota for Brusdar Graterol.
It really paid off for Minnesota in a year that saw a merry-go-round starting rotation thanks to a myriad of injuries. Maeda made 11 starts for the Twins this season (Jose Berrios made 12 starts, the most on the staff) and went five innings or more in each of those outings. Incredibly, I never even thought to myself during a game in which he pitched, “That was a terrible game for Maeda.” In fact, eight of his 11 starts are deemed a “quality start”. In order for that to happen, the pitcher must go at least six innings of work and allow three or less earned runs. The other three starts saw MaeKen go five innings and allow two runs or less.
To top this all off, Maeda made what would be considered the best start we’ve seen from a Twins pitcher in recent memory: an almost-no-hitter that he took into the ninth inning. The Twins still came up with the win in extras that game after the bullpen did some bad things.
On a personal level, Maeda posted the best ERA of his five seaons in MLB this year. The same can be said for his FIP (2.70 ERA, 3.00 FIP). He also lead all of the majors in WHIP (0.750) and posted career-bests in BB/9 (1.4) and K/BB (8.00). On a team level, he pitched the most innings (66.2) and notched the most strikeouts (80) among all starting pitchers.
If there’s a bright spot in this season, it’s Maeda. And if there’s a bright spot in the future, it’s that Maeda will be a mainstay in the Twins’ rotation through 2023.
That is, unless the Twins want to pull a Red Sox and make a fool of themselves during a trade.
How would you grade Kenta Maeda’s season?
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