Going into the season, there was a great deal of optimism, and rightly so. The team came off a wild-card appearance in 2017 and had some young players coming off pretty good seasons.
Buxton got hurt almost immediately and missed nearly the entire season. Sano was out for most of the year, as well. Jorge Polanco was suspended and Ervin Santana never got back from surgery on his finger. Jason Castro, who was expected to start most of the games behind the plate, was injured very early in the season.
Injuries happen to every team, but the Twins injuries were poorly timed and stopped the team from gaining any momentum this year.
What went right:
Jake Cave came in and did a nice job of filling Buxton's shoes. He was not the dynamic player Buxton can be, but he did all right. Kyle Gibson finally pitched the way the team expected him to. He is not an "ace" but he is a decent middle of the rotation starter. Berrios showed flashes of being an ace. Fernando Romero looked pretty good at times. Stephen Gonsalves looked over-matched at times, but looks like he could step in next season. Mitch Garver needs some work defensively behind the plate, but looked good offensively. The Willians Astudillo era has begun in Minnesota. And, last but not least, Eddie Rosario had his break out season.
Several players that played all year were disappointing, including Max Kepler. I hope to see him break out next year. If he can, the outfield will be fine.
Next year, Buxton should be healthy. Sano should be healthy. The team should not need to look for another catcher with Garver, Astudillo and Juan Graterol being capable of handling the position. If Mauer does retire, Tyler Austin should be able to step in at 1B. If Mauer returns, Austin can split the DH duties with him.
I wonder who will play at 2B next year, but a real possibility is that Nick Gordon will step up and fill that spot.
I am optimistic that the pitching will be OK with Stewart, Gonsalves and Romero joining Berrios and Gibson in the rotation and, hopefully, May closing games.