2016 Minnesota Twins
2016 Minnesota Twins / Franchise: Minnesota Twins / BR Team Page
Managed by Paul Molitor
History, Comments, Contributions
The 2016 Minnesota Twins got off to their worst start since they had moved from Washington in 1961, as they lost their first five games of the year. They also lost starting CF Danny Santana to a hamstring injury during the fifth of those losses. Things got worse on April 10th, when they had a 3-1 lead in the 9th against the Kansas City Royals, but it was blown by closer Glen Perkins, and they ended up 4-3 losers in 10 innings to fall to 0-6. The Twins played their home opener on April 11th against the Chicago White Sox, but things went no better as they lost 4-1 to fall to 0-7. It was now the worst start in franchise history since the 1904 Washington Senators had opened their season with 13 straight losses. Some numbers pointed out what was wrong with the Twins in those early games: they had the worst performance in the majors with runners in scoring position at 5 for 55, and they had also struck out 79 times, while reaching base only 72 times via hits or walks. The losing streak reached 9 games before it was ended by a three-game home sweep of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim from April 15-18. All three wins were of the come-from-behind variety and were helped by a performance in which Minnesota's bullpen put together a streak of 14 2/3 scoreless innings; Kevin Jepsen recorded the team's first two saves of the year during the series after Perkins had landed on the disabled list and was lost for the season after undergoing an operation on his shoulder. It took until April 21st for the Twins to record their first win away from home, when they defeated the Milwaukee Brewers, 8-1. The win came on the day Minnesota-born singer Prince died suddenly at age 57, and the Twins paid tribute to him by playing his songs on a loop in the clubhouse to celebrate the victory. His songs were also played on the Miller Park sound system, while Target Field was decked out in the color purple in his honor.
As the team failed to improve over the next couple of months, someone had to pay the price for the unexpected last-place performance, and on July 18th, long-time General Manager Terry Ryan was the one who was fired. He was replaced on an interim basis by assistant GM Rob Antony. Ironically, after a dreadful first half, the Twins had started to got hot at that point, although it was too early yet to notice. Starting on July 2nd, they went 21-12, and while they were still in last place, 17 1/2 games out of first on August 8th, they had managed to pass the Tampa Bay Rays, who now had the worst record in the American League, while three National League teams also had worse records. It was clear what had caused the turn-around: a red hot offense that led the majors in runs and hits since the beginning of July. There three major contributors to that surge: rookie RF Max Kepler, who had hit 12 homers during the stretch, 2B Brian Dozier, with 9 homers and 25 RBIs, and DH Miguel Sano, who had come off the DL on July 1st to hit 7 homers and drive in 20 runs. In fact, the Twins had been able to trade their best hitter over the first half, IF Eduardo Nunez, owner of a .296 average with 12 homers, 49 runs and 47 RBIs, as their sole representative at the 2016 All-Star Game, without missing a beat. The uptick proved to be short-lived, however, as the second half of August was pretty painful. When they were swept in a three-game series by the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre August 26-28th, it gave them a ten-game losing streak, their longest of the year. They lost their next three games as well to make it 13 losses in a row to finish August; it was tied for the second-longest string in team history, as they had accomplished the dubious feat in 1961, their maiden season in Minnesota, and was one shy of the team record of 14 set in 1982. It also meant they finished the month at 49-84, the worst record in the majors.
While the Twins ended the losing streak with a win on September 1st, it was only a temporary respite as a loss on September 6th gave them 17 losses in their last 19 games. This came in spite of a tremendous power surge from 2B Dozier, who tied a team record with homers in five consecutive games and also tied the American League record for homers by a second baseman, set by Alfonso Soriano in 2002 with 39. Dozier would eventually set a new record. However, the Twins also set a record as a team on September 30th with their 103rd loss of the year, the most in team history since moving to Minnesota in 1961. In that game, they also tied an AL record when their first seven batters of the game struck out against Carlos Rodon of the Chicago White Sox. With two games still to play, the franchise record for losses of 104, set by the 1949 Washington Senators, was also in danger of falling. However, the Twins ended the season on a positive note, defeating the Chicago White Sox, 6-3, in the season finale, to give them a record of 59-103. It was easily the worst in the majors, but they had managed to avoid tying the franchise record for losses.
Awards and Honors
- All-Star: Eduardo Nunez
- Mike Bauman: "Twins look to continue trending upward", mlb.com March 4, 2016. 
- Mike Bauman: "Twins confident they'll rebound from slow start: Molitor says club still searching for identity in young season", mlb.com, April 21, 2016.