Largely due to a few late-game bullpen collapses, the Twins had their first losing month of the season. At 13-15, there were some promising moments (winning series against the Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays) and some painful ones (getting swept by the Tigers to start the month, Emilio Pagán against the Cleveland Guardians). They lost their pitching coach to LSU, in one of the strangest midseason moves in MLB history. But after it all, the Twins remained in first at the conclusion of the month with a 1.5 game lead over the Guardians, and 5.5 games over the Chicago White Sox.
June MVP: Byron Buxton
Byron Buxton was back to being his dominant self after his infamous 0-30 slump. In 23 games in June, Buck hit .275/.356/.713 with nine home runs and 15 RBI. Those numbers are almost identical to his blistering first month of the season. His 1.5 WAR in June was 7th best in all of MLB, and he did it in fewer plate appearances than anyone above him on the list. So far, the Twins’ injury management plan has been working to perfection with Buck, and I expect to see him in the All-Star Game in a couple of weeks.
Honorable Mention: Carlos Correa, Luis Arraez, Jhoan Duran, Griffin Jax
June LVP: Emilio Pagán
I’m sorry, we have to talk about him one more time.
Following a solid April and a dominant May, Emilio Pagán absolutely collapsed in June. For the month, Pagán pitched 8.2 innings with an 11.42 ERA. You don’t need any fancy stats to understand how terrible that is. On top of that, he almost single-handedly cost the Twins 4 different games against Cleveland, essentially creating an 8 game swing in the standings. The Twins have said they will be using Pagán in lower leverage situations going forward, but until they make a few trades for relief help, that may be difficult.
Honorable Mention: Jharel Cotton, Joe Smith, Trevor Larnach
Most Improved: Griffin Jax
Griffin Jax’s story is well documented at this point, so I won’t rehash it. But his slider-fueled rise to prominence this year is one of the best stories in baseball.
After a really good start to the season, Jax took it up a level in June when he threw 13 innings with a 1.38 ERA/1.57 FIP, 12.46 K/9, and a god-level 0.385 WHIP. He walked just one batter the entire month and only gave up two earned runs. He accumulated 0.5 WAR in June, tied with Jhoan Duran for 4th best in baseball among relievers. It’s hard to imagine where the Twins would be this season without Jax.
Honorable Mention: Alex Kirilloff, Chris Archer, Jose Miranda
Rookie of the Month: Jose Miranda
If I’m being honest with myself, this month’s award should actually go to Jhoan Duran, but we all know how great he’s been. I want to sing the praises of the Twins’ less-heralded rookie. After struggling to adjust to big league pitching in his first month in the majors, Miranda has looked like one of the Twins’ best hitters, hitting .306/.342/.514 with three home runs and 13 RBI in June.
José Miranda clears 'em and the Twins lead! pic.twitter.com/uqYeqgDAYQ— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) June 30, 2022
Miguel Sano is currently on a rehab assignment in Florida, but Miranda is playing so well that he may have taken Sano’s roster spot when he’s eligible to return. Jose Miranda is not throwing away his shot. (I know it’s an overused pun for him at this point, but it really is true.)
Honorable Mention: Jhoan Duran, Jovani Moran
Cy Young: Jhoan Duran
After teasing him in the last two awards, it’s finally time for Jhoan Duran. It takes a lot for a reliever to be a team’s best pitcher, but that’s exactly what Duran has done all season, especially in the month of June. His dominance has never been more apparent that this month. As the rest of the bullpen collapsed around him, Duran stood tall (both literally and metaphorically) as the Twins’ best, and most reliable, pitcher.
Duran pitched 12.2 innings with a 1.42 ERA/1.61 FIP, 10 K/9, a 0.868 WHIP, and didn’t allow a home run for the entire month. His 0.5 WAR accumulated in June was 4th best in baseball among relievers.
I’ll also give a small shoutout to Chris Archer who had a 1.67 ERA in June. The advanced numbers paint that as a lot of luck (and watching him, I would tend to agree) but when you allow that few runs over 27 innings, you deserve a shoutout.
Honorable Mention: Griffin Jax, Chris Archer, Caleb Thielbar
The Twins already have a series win against Baltimore in the books for July and are looking to bury the White Sox today. If July can continue on the early trends so far, the Twins will be sitting pretty in the standings when it’s all said and done.