The Minnesota Twins opened the 2021 season as co-favorites to win the AL Central. On Opening Day, Minnesota had +150 odds to win the division and for good reason. The Twins won the AL Central in 2020 and 2019. For the 2021 season, Minnesota returned the nucleus of their successful 2020 and 2019 rosters.
However, after 22 games the Twins season has not gone as planned. Minnesota has a 7-15 record and is already seven games behind the first place Kansas City Royals. The only team in MLB with a worse record than the Twins are the Detroit Tigers.
Even though there are only 140 games left in the season, the major question is what went wrong with the Twins. In my opinion they were the victims of bad luck. The Twins bullpen is good but has performed poorly. Their ace Kenta Maeda has had an awful April. Most importantly for the Twins, they were missing SS Andrelton Simmons and 3B Josh Donaldson for several games to begin the season.
With the return of Simmons and Donaldson, as well likely improvements from their bullpen, and Maeda pitching better, I believe that the Twins can turn their season around.
The Twins Lineup
In 2019, the Minnesota Twins lineup averaged 5.73 runs per game, the second most in the league. In 2020 during the shortened season, the Twins regressed to average only 4.37 runs per game. For the 2021 season, Minnesota is averaging only 4.19 runs per game which is only .08 fewer runs than the median MLB team.
However, the Twins were with 3B Josh Donaldson for the beginning of the season. Even with DH Nelson Cruz in the lineup, Donaldson is the best offensive player on the Twins. In only ten games this season Donaldson has a .355 batting average, .400 on-base percentage, and a 151 wRC+. In the past Donaldson can be counted on to hit around 35 home runs per season and get on-base. With Donaldson back in the lineup, the Twins should do well in their remaining games.
The other player that whose absence has hurt Minnesota is SS Andrelton Simmons. Even though Simmons is not a household name, he served an important purpose as he is an average offensive player at a position where it is hard to find offensively strong players. Simmons is great at getting hits and getting on-base which is important for a Twins lineup that is loaded with power hitters.
After acquiring Maeda during the 2020 offseason from the LA Dodgers, Maeda established himself as the ace of the Twins rotation. In 2020 Maeda had a 6-1 record, 2.70 ERA, and a 2.63 xFIP. Most importantly Maeda averaged more than six innings per start which was an impressive feat during a season when the average MLB starting pitcher pitched for fewer than five innings per start.
This season Maeda has a 1-2 record with a 6.56 ERA, and a 1.76 WHIP. While Maeda has had an awful April, if he returns to his 2020 form then the Twins should end the season with a winning record.
The Twins Bullpen
Oddly enough the Minnesota bullpen has been one of their strengths this season. Even though the Twins bullpen has the 6th worst ERA in the league, there is substantial evidence that they should do better throughout the rest of the season.
When and How to Bet on the Twins for the Rest of the Season
If the Twins could hit the reset button and go back in time, they would be a great bet to win the AL Central. However, they cannot do that and even with 140 games, there is too much ground for the Twins to make up to win the division. This is because they are seven games behind the Kansas City Royals.
Currently prediction website FiveThirtyEight projects the Twins to finish with a 82-80 record. Most importantly they have only a 31% chance of making the playoffs, a 20% chance of winning the AL Central, and only a 2% chance of winning the World Series.
Due to Minnesota’s poor start, there is no value in futures bets on them. The best way to bet on the Twins is to bet on their full game moneylines for certain games this season.