The season is still very young but the Minnesota Twins have had a roller coaster season so far.
Between starting 1-6 and then going 8-6 in their next 14 games, there has been a difference of night and day when the Twins take the field. There is a good team that is both talented and exciting and another team that gets crushed by a large amount of both mental and physical errors.
With April coming to a close tonight, it’s time for the Twins to make some changes that will allow for the “good” team to take the field more often.
The team entered Spring Training with a number of position battles, including spots for centerfield and backup catcher. Aaron Hicks and Josmil Pinto entered camp as the respective favorites to win the jobs, before each of them wound up beginning the season with the Rochester Red Wings (AAA). The team’s decisions to start the year with both of those players in the minors looked to be the safest possible roster move in each situation, but a team looking to break out of a four-year losing trend can’t rely on the safe move — they need to start taking risks.
So far, Hicks and Pinto have excelled in Triple-A and it all began in the first game of the minor league season. Hicks, batting in the leadoff spot for Rochester, blasted a home run on Opening Day and went 2-for-3, drawing two walks as well. He also made a stellar diving catch in center field which took extra bases and runs batted in away from former Twin Chris Colabello. Pinto also impressed in the Opening Day win by driving in two runs with an RBI double.
Hicks is leading the Red Wings in RBI right now with 12 and Pinto is right behind him in second with nine. Both players have on-base percentages just a shade below .400 on top of their strong run production.
For Hicks, a big part of what he can bring to the Twins is defensive. He has gained 150 games of experience at the Major League level over the past two seasons and has proven to be one of the best defensive outfielders in that short period of time. His speed gives him an elite range in center field and he has made a number of highlight-reel catches over his time in a Twins uniform. Not to mention Jordan Schafer, who has started 14 of the Twins 21 games in center field this year, is batting just .188 with only two runs driven in.
Even Pinto, who isn’t a defensive wizard by any means, can’t possibly hurt the team with his ability behind the plate. Minnesota has failed to throw out a base runner to date this season and the raw power that Pinto has displayed in short spurts at the Major League level just simply can not be ignored.
Not many people expected much out of the Twins in 2015 but through 21 games it’s hard to deny that this team has the ability to at the very least compete for a wild card spot in the American League, even if it is a long shot that they actually attain a playoff spot.
Because the ability is there, players like Hicks and Pinto need to be on the roster making an impact. Both players might have “boom-or-bust” ability but with one or both of them booming in 2015 then the Twins are instantly a much better team.
It’s time for the team to do away with the safe roster moves and start taking risks to once again fight for a playoff spot.