With the lockout dragging on, the Minnesota Twins season seems further away then it should feel in mid-February. Despite this, Rob Manfred says games will not be delayedand despite his penchant for not being 100% truthful with fans, we’m still going to believe that regular season baseball will arrive as close to the original Opening Day as possible.
With that belief, we look forward to a Minnesota Twins season that is just one big question mark that the lockout has prevented the front office from answering. While the team has several pieces in place, there’s a variety of players who enter 2022 with a lot to prove if they want to be a big piece of the team going forward.
We started off with Brent Rookerwho has a lot to prove this year, but we continue with Alex Kirilloffwho has a lot to prove, but in a very different way than Rooker does, especially considering his status as a former Top 10 prospect.
Kirilloff enters 2022 with his spot within the organization set. He’s unlikely to be traded in 2022, and it would be a stunning move if he was dealt in 2023 either.
With that being said, 2021 definitely was not the year that the Twins, Kirilloff, or their fans had hoped for. The Twins disappointed and Kirilloff had a solid, but unspectacular first 59 games in the majors.
There were some positives for sure. Kirilloff was extremely unlucky, with Baseball Savant putting his expected batting average at .291 and his expected slugging at .541. This suggests positive regression is definitely on the way for the outfielder.
On top of this, Kirilloff struggled to start the season and had a rough July while playing through injury. If you focus on the time in between, his numbers look pretty impressive for a rookie:
- 35 G, .280 / .324 / .447, 13 XBH (4 HR), 22 RBI
If you stretch that out to 162 games, he hits 19 homers and boasts 101 RBIs. Obviously, his full season probably would not have gone exactly that way, but to see that is how his averages look is exciting for his 2022 season.
Throughout his time in the minors, Kirilloff saw his average dip below .300 just once and never saw his on-base percentage drop below .340. In the majors, it’s pretty reasonable to expect that he puts up numbers near that range given his elite pedigree, beautiful swing and stellar work ethic.
While all that is nice, there are real concerns about his injury history. Since he was drafted in 2016, Kirilloff has played just 340 games in the minors and majors combined due to injuries and the cancellation of the 2020 season. He needs this year to help establish himself. Then there’s his defense as well.
He was drafted as an outfielder, and the Minnesota Twins have kept him there and at first base throughout his career. His bat profiles REALLY well at either of those spots, but his defense really needs to improve too.
He’ll still just be 24 for the entire 2021 season (his birthday is November 9th), so he has some time to prove that he can be the superstar guy. If he can provide a full season of the numbers he had for most of 2021, we’re looking at a guy who will be a cornerstone in the team’s lineup for years to come. 2022 would be a good year for him to show it.