2023 Minnesota Twins Preview — The Quest for a Playoff Return

Carlos Correa and Jose Miranda of the 2023 Minnesota Twins smile in the dugout
(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)

2023 Minnesota Twins Preview

In 2022, after leading the AL Central for 90+ days, the Minnesota Twins fell apart due to injuries, timely hitting, and leadership. They made some trades and signings looking to be regain their competitive form and challenge for a playoff spot.

Offense

The Twins offense has a chance to be consistent throughout the 2023 season and are on cloud nine that shortstop Carlos Correa returns for the new season. The offense will have plenty of power in their lineup. They could have at least five players who could hit over 20 home runs apiece, including Correa, center fielder Byron Buxton, and free agent signee Joey Gallo, along with infielders Jose Miranda and Jorge Polanco.

The key for this Twins offense in 2023 is to hit with runners in scoring position. In 2022 they hit .232 — that ranked 20th. They must be better at baserunning and situational hitting. All in all, the offense will be the team’s biggest strength. They also will need to be able to utilize Buxton’s speed on the bases.

Defense

This season the Twins will have four strong defenders playing in the outfield. They include Buxton, Gallo, and Max Kepler. Michael A. Taylor, acquired in January, will be the reserve outfielder and defensive replacement. Only Kepler has not won a Gold Glove; however, he is still considered a top defensive outfielder and has an outstanding throwing arm. In the infield we cannot forget that Correa is a pretty darn good shortstop and has won a Gold Glove as well.

Starting Pitchers

The 2023 Minnesota Twins don’t really have an ace in the starting rotation. They do, however, have the consistency to go deep into games on a regular basis. This group includes Sonny Gray, Pablo Lopez, Tyler Mahle, Kenta Maeda, and Joe Ryan.

Of the starters, Gray was a pleasant surprise last season. He pitched in 119 2/3 innings with a 3.08 ERA and 117 strikeouts. He was their best starter despite limited work because of several trips to the IL in 2022. The Twins need him to be healthy in 2023. Lopez, acquired in a trade in January, will be the number one starter and wasted no time showing his new teammates his fastball and will be the Twins Opening Day starter.

Maeda returns roughly a year and a half removed from the Tommy John surgery he had in September 2021. He could be a question because he has struggled in camp. The hope is that he will regain his “feel” in regard to his old command and control and be an asset.

If they want to contend for a playoff spot, the starters are going to need all their starters to go deep into games on a regular basis and avoid an over-used bullpen.

Bullpen

Twins’ relievers ranked 16th in ERA in 2022 and gave up 78 home runs, eighth in the majors. They also ranked eighth in walks issued. Jhoan Duran, Griffin Jax, Jorge Lopez, Emilio Pagan, and Caleb Thielbar are locks to make the team at this point. This group needs to improve upon last year’s stats for this team to contend.

Manager Rocco Baldelli likes to use closer-by-committee. They had a fairly strong three-member closing committee of Pagan (nine saves), Duran (eight saves), and Lopez, a mid-season acquisition (four saves). It will be interesting to see if Baldelli ends up using Duran as the go-to closer or if he’ll continue using the “committee.”

Surprise Player

A surprise player could be Joey Gallo. He took the harsh comments from the impatient and annoyed New York Yankees fans hard. In Minnesota, he’ll find a friendlier fan setting. Hitting in this Twins lineup, which includes top hitters in Buxton and Correa, could give Gallo the push and confidence he needs to have huge rebound year. If he rediscovers his home run power with Twins in 2023, he could end the season with at 25 to 30 home runs.

Team Additions

Correa exercised his opt-out clause and became a free agent in October. However, in one of the biggest and strangest offseason stories, the Twins came out on top in getting him back. After a chaotic and confusing few months that involved both the San Francisco Giants and New York Mets pulling out of deals because of concerns raised during his physical, Correa re-signed with the Twins. Only time will tell if he’ll remain the huge asset he’s been to this team.

They signed Gallo to a one-year contract hoping the struggling slugger can get his hitting back in 2023. He is expected to be better now that the shift rule goes into effect for 2023.

Another new addition to the team is Christian Vazquez. He signed a three-year deal and joins the Twins in 2023 as their starting catcher. Vazquez has shown he can handle himself well behind the plate and be a good communicator for the pitching staff.

2023 Minnesota Twins Outlook

The 2023 Minnesota Twins have a good outlook at this point. With the trades and signings, they made during the off season, the Twins fans are looking for a division title. If Buxton, who must remain healthy, can play in at least 120 games and can be that five-tool player that everyone has predicted him to be, they have a good chance. Add productive seasons from Correa and Gallo and this offense should be able to carry the team all season and avoid a second-half collapse.

In addition, the entire pitching staff needs to perform better than last year. If they can win at least 45 to 50 home games and better their 32 road wins from last year, this team should be in contention for at least a Wild Card spot. With good play and a few breaks, they could win the AL Central.

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James Marshall

James Marshall

Jim Marshall has lived in Phoenix, AZ for 50 years. He is an avid baseball fan, but enjoys all of Arizona's local sports teams, including Diamondbacks, Suns, Cardinals and Coyotes. In addition to the four major sports, he closely follows the Phoenix Mercury, Arizona Rattlers and Arizona State Sun Devils. Jim's passion for baseball continues beyond the field as he is an avid collector of baseball memorabilia. His favorite athlete of all time is Baseball Hall of Fame member Harmon Killebrew. In addition to watching, reading and talking about sports, he takes time to travel and appreciate the great state of Arizona with his lovely wife, Patti.

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