The Minnesota Twins should be known as the team that keeps on giving. When players either leave or are traded from the organization, they’ve created a habit of turning into superstars on their new teams.
That’s why it’s not shocking that a trio of former Twins played a part in helping the Atlanta Braves win the World Series. With Eddie Rosario, Ehire Adrianza, and Huascar Ynoa all playing a role, the Braves went from underdog to World Series champion. But it was a process that played out long before the season had started.
The first ex-Twin to land in Atlanta was Ynoa in 2017. With the Twins looking to make a push toward a playoff spot, they traded Ynoa before the deadline in exchange for Jaime Garcia.
Garcia made only one start in a Twins uniform, and Ynoa was the type of long-term prospect the Twins could have used in their rotation this season. He spent 2018 and ’19 in the minor leagues and posted a 5.09 ERA before getting a callup at the end of the 2019 season.
Ynoa allowed six runs over three innings during his 2019 call-up. But he got a second chance last year and was part of the Braves rotation in the pandemic-shortened season. After posting a 5.82 ERA in nine appearances, Ynoa started this season in the minor leagues. However, he worked his way up to the majors. And for the first time since he arrived in Atlanta, Ynoa looked the part of a major league pitcher.
In 91 innings, Ynoa posted a 4.05 ERA and struck out 100 batters in 91 innings. While he pitched only one inning during the Braves’ playoff run, he’s only 23 years old and has a season to build off of.
Adrianza was a part of that 2017 Twins team. He hung around despite compiling a .694 OPS over four seasons in Minnesota. After a couple of modest years, Adrianza hit a new low in 2020, hitting .191/.287/.270 with no homers in 44 games. With his value in the tank, Adrianza settled for a minor league deal with the Braves. He made the roster in spring training, and his versatility became a positive for Atlanta. This year they shifted him around the infield to help rest their star players.
Adrianza was solid in a utility role, hitting .247/.327/.401 with five homers and 28 RBI over 109 games. The Braves weren’t signing Adrianza for his offense, though, and he provided just enough to not be a drain on the field.
But none of that compared to the lightning in a bottle that was Rosario’s stay in Atlanta.
It’s not crazy to think that Rosario could have been the catalyst on a championship team. The biggest regret is that it didn’t happen in Minnesota. When Rosario was acquired by the Braves, it was a footnote as part of a trade deadline that saw much bigger names get dealt.
The Braves desperately rebuilt their outfield on the fly, and Rosario stepped in and started swinging at everything he could get his bat on. Sometimes, that results in a slump. But in Atlanta, it turned into pure gold.
Rosario was in the middle of a rough season, posting a .685 OPS over 78 games with Cleveland. That slump was extended when he suffered an abdominal strain in July. The Braves traded for him even though he was on the injured list.
But the second he set foot in Atlanta, he channeled his Bomba Squad form. In 33 regular-season games, Rosario hit as many home runs (seven) as he did for Cleveland and posted a .903 OPS. For a team reeling from Ronald Acuña Jr.’s torn ACL, Rosario already was building a cult following before the postseason hit.
Rosario didn’t just play well in the postseason. He put up numbers that belong on MLB: The Show. Rosario posted a 1.073 OPS in 20 games. But his best work came in the NLCS, where he hit a maddening .560 with 14 hits, three homers and a 1.647 OPS. This performance helped him earn MVP honors for the series and helped the Braves win their first title since 1995.
All of this has to drive Twins fans insane. As we all know, they’ve lost 18 straight postseason games. But as the Twins have shown, those who leave Minnesota are due to reap the benefits.