(I don’t want to do an M3M because all the links depress me, so here is something....happier? instead. I hope you like it!)
2020 is a horrible year to be a baseball fan. We don’t get to watch the sport we love, we don’t get to see Max Kepler’s hot bod, we don’t even really have a reason to groan about how much we hate the Yankees. 2020 is a horrible year to be an anything really, and in the spirit of the worst things in recent memory (and even more in the spirit of being bored and desperate for things to write about) I began to wonder who had the worst season as a Twin in recent memory. Well that’s too short of a question to write an article about, even by my own incredibly low standards as Twinkie Town’s self-avowed laziest staff member, so I’ve decided to assemble the 2010-2020 All Bad Team.
Plenty of players pop to the front of your mind when thinking about “Bad” Twins. Tsuyoshi Nishioka was such a disaster he’s become a forever punchline, Literally 0 Twins fans own a Ricky Nolasco jersey, and who the hell even was Vance Worley? Was he a Twins pitcher, or a Victorian era werewolf? No one left alive even remembers!
But I’m going to do this the science way, because I wear glasses and that makes me smart. We’re looking for the worst seasons by bWAR for maximum math facts. Without further ado, here’s some bad seasons to remember! Yay?!
Catcher: 2011 Drew Butera, -1.6 WAR
2011 was quite the year for being bad in a Twins uniform. The team bumbled their way to 99 losses, and looking back it feels miraculous they didn’t lose more. The 2011 Twins were clear underachievers, in that they underachieved in underachieving, expect to see them a lot on this list.
As for the famous Son of Sal, he was thrust into a semi-starter role, playing in 93 games, due to an injury riddled Joe Mauer season (his infamous Bilateral Leg Weakness year) that saw Joe miss a lot of time and largely DH and play 1st. Sweet Drew slashed .167/.210/.239 while mashing an entire two (2) dingers. Not optimal.
First Base: 2011 Justin Morneau, -1.1 WAR
Not a name I expected to have to write here! Not even one of the most beloved Twins of the modern era was safe from the bogus vibes of 2011! In his first year back after his concussion, Justin just wasn’t himself. After 69 (nice) horrible games, the Twins shelved him for the season. An easy bad season to forgive, and I kinda feel dirty even bringing it up.
Love you Justin, I know you are totally reading this!
Second Base: 2012 Tsuyoshi Nishioka, -0.5 WAR
Hey look, it isn’t 2011! We knew Tsuyoshi would be making this list, but this was actually one of his better seasons as a Twin. After an abysmal 2011, Nishioka slid over to 2nd from shortstop to accommodate a nostalgic pair of Brian Dozier and Pedro Florimon. Did I mention his season lasted an entire 3 games before the Tsuyoshi Nishioka experiment in Minnesota officially came to an end? That’s right, both the worst season by a Twins 2nd basemen this decade, and Nishi’s best Twins season, lasted three entire games. His OPS+ of -78 is still hilarious to me.
Third Base: 2010 Brendan Harris, -1.1 WAR
I literally do not know who this is, as I was too busy ruining my own life fresh out of high school to watch baseball. Harris was a journeyman who played with the Twinkies from 2008 to 2010. His 2008 season was an almost exact opposite +1.2 WAR, but much like Brendan Fraiser, his career fell apart. In 43 games Harris slashed a Drew Buterian .157/.233/.213. Yes, that’s right. His slugging was actually LOWER than his OBP. That takes some kind of skill!
After 2010, Harris didn’t play in the Majors for 2 years, but resurfaced in 2013 with the Angels where he did slightly better but still very bad for 44 games.
Shortstop: 2015 Danny Santana, -1.9 WAR
Ouch! Santana narrowly beats out 2011 Nishioka (-1.8 WAR) in the futility at short title bout. Coming off a 2.8 WAR(!) Rookie campaign, Danny Santana sophomore slumped himself straight into the abyss, doing just about everything wrong while splitting time with Eduardo Nunez. Somehow the 2015 Twins finished second in the division despite choosing on purpose to play Danny Santana. Definitely a Gardy favorite, Santana would be just as bad the next year, with a sad -1.5 WAR. Lucky for Danny, his 2019 campaign with Texas saw him earn a respectable 2.0 WAR, showing he still might have something left in the tank.
Corner Outfield: 2014 Jason Kubel and Chris Parmelee (-1.3 and -1.1)
The Twins front office strategy for 2014 was “Hey what if we just get back some Jasons?” And to that effect they acquired and aged Kubel and Jason Bartlett. This went about as well as anyone might have guessed. Bartlett made the team out of spring training, took like one at bat, and then immediately retired. Kubel however played 45 very sad games, mashing only one tater, while playing an outfield defense that made Josh Willingham look like Byron Buxton.
Meanwhile Chris Parmesan was a hot hot mess for the whole season, In fact the entire Twins outfield was a train wreck on fire flying into the sun, with Chris Colabello. and Darin Mastroianni both deep into the negatives and Josh Willingham only managing half a WAR. Sam Fuld was the best outfielder on the team with 0.8 War and is also for some reason one of my favorite baseballers to this day!
Starting Pitcher: 2012 Nick Blackburn, -2.0 WAR
Here we have our answer for the original question. Blackburn’s 2012 was the single worst season by a Twin this decade, and it ended his career right then and there. Safe to say in his 19 starts, opposing hitters did not feel the burn, instead they felt a comforting and calming warmth that lead them getting 143 hits in just 98.2 innings! His unsightly ERA of 7.39 is something you expect to see in early season weirdness, not after nearly 100 innings, but the silver lining for ol Nick was that his 6.10 FIP suggest that in reality he was only the Super Mario Bros Movie horrible and not Manos: The Hands of Fate terrible.
Relief Pitcher: 2019 Trevor Hildenberger, -1.3 WAR
2019 was a year where basically every single thing went as well as it could. Everything except The Hildenboiga. Coming into the season, it was hoped Hildenberger would be a weapon out of the bullpen, but instead he gave up nearly 2 hits per inning over 22 miserable innings. He’s now in the Red Sox organization, and I hope he figures it all out!
So there you have it! The team you neither wanted, nor deserved. I’ll try to come up with something more happy next week.