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MLB Minnesota Twins

Minnesota Twins: 5 Biggest Surprises Through First Half of Season

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Minnesota Twins: 5 Biggest Surprises Through First Half of Season

Sam Fuld Minnesota Twins
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

While there have been extended periods of time when the Minnesota Twins have appeared to be a threat to steal a Wild Card playoff spot this season, 2014 has still largely been a disappointment so far. However, there appears to be no loss of player hope just yet, as Twins players continue to run through walls to avoid mediocrity.

Players and upper-management refusing to be irrelevant again has led to multiple surprises this season in Minnesota.

5. Danny Santana’s Rookie Success

Danny Santana Minnesota Twins
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

5. Danny Santana’s Rookie Success

Danny Santana Minnesota Twins
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

After injuries sent Mike Pelfrey and Aaron Hicks to the disabled list and Pedro Florimon continued to prove irrelevant in the batter's box, the Twins elected to call up seven-year minor leaguer Danny Santana. Santana came up and immediately impacted the major league club, posting a .328 batting average through his first 134 at bats. Unfortunately, Santana currently is on the disabled list now too.

4. Phil Hughes and Kyle Gibson’s Effectiveness

Phil Hughes Minnesota Twins
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

4. Phil Hughes and Kyle Gibson’s Effectiveness

Phil Hughes Minnesota Twins
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Former New York Yankee Phil Hughes and rookie Kyle Gibson have been a pleasant surprise for Twins pitching coaches. The two have combined for 19 quality starts and 15 wins so far this season, leading a pitching rotation that has improved quite a bit with the exception of Ricky Nolasco’s struggles.

3. Mid-Season Signing of Kendrys Morales

Kendrys Morales Minnesota Twins
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

3. Mid-Season Signing of Kendrys Morales

Kendrys Morales Minnesota Twins
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

On June 8, the Minnesota Twins were three games under .500 and only 3.5 games back of a Wild Card spot. As a result, the Twins signed Kendrys Morales to bolster a young and improving batting order. The signing shocked the baseball world, as it essentially was an announcement by the Twins that the team believed it could contend for a playoff spot. To date, this signing has not worked out, but Morales could still prove to be solid trade bait.

2. All-Star Catcher Not Named Joe Mauer

Kurt Suzuki Minnesota Twins
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

2. All-Star Catcher Not Named Joe Mauer

Kurt Suzuki Minnesota Twins
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Twins signed free agent catcher Kurt Suzuki to be a defensive cornerstone, help improve a dismal pitching staff and of course replace Mauer. To the surprise of many, Suzuki not only has been great defensively but has also put together a career year, resulting in a roster spot on the AL All-Star team. His .305 batting average currently ranks ninth in MLB, ahead of players such as Mike Trout and Ian Kinsler heading into the All-Star break.

1. Joe Mauer’s Decline

Joe Mauer Minnesota Twins
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

1. Joe Mauer’s Decline

Joe Mauer Minnesota Twins
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Not all the surprises in Minnesota this season have yielded optimism. Mauer, the 2014 All-Star game ambassador, was batting .271 with just two home runs and 28 RBIs before being placed on the DL just over a week ago. Many expected Mauer to produce stronger offensive numbers after moving to first base, but his statistics have been atrocious. Mauer has struck out 64 times in 2014, 15 fewer times than he did all of last season.

Robert Reidell is a Minnesota Sports Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google+