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It’s time to embrace the next wave of Twins talent

Merging holdover stars with new risers

Minnesota Twins v Houston Astros Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Baseball teams—especially offenses—are built on waves of talent. In the early 1980s, guys like Puckett, Hrbek, Gladden, Gaetti, & Gagne brought home hardware. In the ‘00s, the Mientkiewicz-Guzman-Koskie-Hunter-Jones crew put MN baseball back on the radar and were followed by a Mauer-Morneau-Cuddyer-Kubel-Span wave that ushered in Target Field.

In the mid-2010s, it was time for the next infusion: Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler, & Eddie Rosario.

Arizona Diamondbacks v Minnesota Twins
Eddie, Buck, & Kep in the red uni’s: truly a peak Twins Baseball Experience
Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

But as the 1986-present Kansas City Royals have exemplified, talent waves are extremely fickle. Here in Twins Territory, that latest infusion provided some memorable moments—but just three playoff series and zero victories.

As such, it is quickly becoming time for us—as fans—to turn our emotional attachments (however difficult) away from the favorites of 2015-2022 and towards the new 2023+ crop. The good news? For each of those “old talents”, a fresh one is knocking on the door.

A few comparisons...

  • Eddie Rosario to Trevor Larnach: This decision was previously made with the Twins having soured on the mercurial Rosie after 2020. Now, we’re waiting for Larnach to stay healthy for a prolonged stretch and either: A. Learn to hit the breaking stuff; or B. Learn to lay off the breaking stuff and hunt cheddar.
  • Max Kepler to Matt Wallner: As has been well-publicized of late, “Mad Max” has been more “Max Payne”. Though a sentimental favorite, Kepler hasn’t performed at even an above-average level since 2019. Meanwhile, Matt Wallner—though somewhat limited by a penchant for whiffs and a shaky defensive base—is making CHS Field his personal playground and has a Cuddyer-esque arm cannon.
Minnesota Twins v. Kansas City Royals
The kid from Germany may succumb to the kid from Forest Lake
Photo by LG Patterson/MLB Photos via Getty Images
  • Byron Buxton to Royce Lewis: I certainly hope—and expect—Buxton to provide many more thrills in the years to come. But in terms of being the team’s emotional leader, that gauge is flickering towards Lewis. Soon enough, national TV broadcast headers may proclaim “Royce Lewis and the Twins...” as opposed to centering on Buck.
  • Miguel Sano to Alex Kirilloff & Jose Miranda: After managing to still strike out too much in a league that cares little about Ks, Sano was jettisoned prior to this year and remains unemployed. His replacement(s) at the corner(s) have been a mixed bag of potential and prohibitions: Kirilloff battled injuries but finally looks to be a top-notch batsmen, while Miranda stormed out of the gates but now is on a troublesome Danny Valencia trajectory.
  • Jorge Polanco to Edouard Julien: In the “I think I’ll miss you most of all” category, Polanco has been a gritty, tough-it-out leader on this team for some time and my personal favorite Twin. But chronic lower-body (knee, hamstring, etc.) injuries have reduced Jorge to two primary statuses of late—”injured” & “coming back from injury”—and time/age isn’t on his side any longer. Meanwhile, Julien starred in the World Baseball Classic for Team Canada, routinely posts minor league OBP values north of .400, and has looked both confident and competent in spurts of major league action.
Minnesota Twins v Toronto Blue Jays
A new Ed rises
Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images

Of course, things like performance, roster construction, options, and contracts make this a fluid situation. But in terms of where the Minnesota Twins sit offensively, it may be time to look as much to the future as to the past.