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Joe Mauer did not hit for power coming off an AL MVP season.
2010 record: 94-68.
2011 record: 63-99.
The two-time defending AL Central champions re-signed veterans Carl Pavano and Jim Thome after both experienced tremendous success in 2010. The Minnesota Twins also acquired 26-year-old infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka following his breakout season in Japan.
Slugger Justin Morneau was considered a question mark because he had missed months with post-concussion syndrome. When healthy, however, he ranked among baseball's most productive players. And, of course, Joe Mauer seemed bound for all-around greatness in the first year of his $184 million contract extension.
But Nick Nelson of the Star Tribune didn't sugarcoat reality:
Pressed to predict where the Twins will finish in the AL Central, I'd have to answer second or third. They're a talented bunch, but depth is lacking on this roster and with the myriad health concerns being faced by key players, I foresee some disappointment as the summer moves along.
Bleacher Report's own Joe Blair, after writing his outlook with a similar tone, gave them "a great shot at an American League Wild Card spot."
Let's begin with Nishioka. He single-handedly took away legitimacy from Nippon Professional Baseball by struggling in every facet of the game. It might be impossible amass more errors than runs scored as an everyday player, but the rookie nearly pulled it off (12 E, 14 R in 68 G).
Morneau wasn't close to being himself, batting .227/.285/.333 with 4 HR.
Pathetic as that may be, Twins catchers were more useless. Drew Butera, Joe Mauer and Rene Rivera combined for a .185/.250/.259 triple-slash line in their 585 plate appearances behind the plate.
In his return from Tommy John surgery, Joe Nathan performed like a shell of the borderline Hall of Famer the fanbase had always loved. Also out of the bullpen, lefty specialist Jose Mijares battled control issues.
Depressing Team Stats
Outscored by 185, the Twins had the worst run differential in the sport. Yes, even inferior to the 106-loss Houston Astros (minus-181).