Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Twins outfielders celebrate another win

Twins outfielders celebrate another win

“Another double for Buxton!”. “That’s gone!”. “Jorge Polanco with another four hit night!” “Odorizzi pitches another gem behind Jose Berrios”.

Dick Bremer and Danny Gladden, that is music to my ears and the ears of many other patient fans in Twins territory. It may only be mid-May, but it’s hard not to get excited about this Twins club right now. We haven’t seen a team like this since the days of the M&M brothers, while Denard Span, Delmon Young, Jason Kubel, and Michael Cuddyer were roaming the outfield, backing up Francisco Liriano on the bump with good ole Guardy in the dugout, or in the clubhouse after an ejection. This team was of course swept in a quick five game series by the Yankees in the playoffs. Since then, things have gone downhill, and downhill in a hurry. Sure the Twins managed to make it into a wildcard play-in game two seasons ago before being eliminated by, yep you guessed it, the New York Yankees. But since the Twins last playoff series back in 2010, the they have had two winning seasons. Two. Two seasons in which they won more than they lost. Here is a quick list of their record and where they ranked in the AL central.

2011: 5th 63-99

2012: 5th 66-96

2013: 4th 66-96

2014: 5th 70-92

2015: 2nd 83-79

2016: 5th 59-103

2017: 2nd 85-77

2018: 2nd 78-84

You may be thinking, “the Twins have ranked 2nd place three of the past four seasons we must be on the rise”. Yes and no. I believe this team is on the rise, but the past four seasons are not a way to show their improvement. In 2015 the twins finished with a winning record, but still 12 games out of first place in the AL central, although they were just three games out of a wildcard spot. So, how do you follow up a close 3rd place in the wild card race, you lose the most games in the MLB with the closest team having nine more wins. Pathetic. But hey they bounced right back as a shot in the dark finishing 2nd in the AL central with a record of 85-77, and making it to the aforementioned wild card play-in game. Paul Molitor won the AL manager of the year and the Twins young stars showed some promise and potential. The Twins followed up that hope bearing season in a way that only the Twins would, a losing season sitting 13 games back from the playoffs. Soon after this season, Paul Molitor was shown the door, and Minnesota legend, Joe Mauer tipped his cap to his hometown faithful one final time. The Molitor firing was a questionable move just one season after he won manager of the year, but the front office felt that they needed to make change before they were walking out like Paul.

So that they did, change. The Twins went out and found their new skipper. 37 year old, first time manager Rocco Baldelli was hired and Twins fans were left scratching any hair they had left on their heads after the most recent frustrating season. The front office then went out and made some moves that Twins fans can stand by. They locked up their franchise shortstop, Jorge Polanco, and right fielder, Max Kepler, for four more years. Then they decided the Twins need some pop in our lineup, so they went out and got veteran slugger Nelson Cruz, and 29 year-old C.J. Cron. Ehire Adrianza played the roll of utility man for the Twins last season, but they wanted to upgrade, so they went out and got World Series champion Marwin González from the Houston Astros. With fan favorite second baseman Brian Dozier gone the Twins had to fill another hole. They went out and got a Mr. Reliable in 7 year player Jonathan Schoop. The Twins also added another key starting pitcher in Martin Perez who has resurrected his career here in the Twin Cities.

Who knows what would have happened if the Twins would have kept Paul Molitor, or wouldn’t have added all the guys they did, but I can guarantee one thing, no Twins fan is complaining right now. The Twins are sitting with the second best record in all of baseball at 30-16. They are comfortably in control in the AL central division with a 4.5 game lead ahead of the Indians. The thing that is very reassuring about the Twins success, is that they aren’t just sneaking by and getting lucky with these wins. Here are some stats to prove that the 2019 Twins are the real deal.

(These rankings are among the entire MLB)

  • Runs scored: 262 1st
  • Total hits: 423 3rd
  • Total doubles: 95 2nd (Byron Buxton leads league with 18 of his own)
  • Total home runs: 87 2nd
  • Total bases: 795 2nd
  • RBIs: 250 3rd
  • Team batting average: .269 2nd
  • Slugging: .505 2nd (first place is .506)
  • OPS: .841 2nd
  • ERA: 3.90 9th
  • Total wins by pitchers: 30 3rd
  • Shutouts: 5 2nd

In all categories ranging from pitching to batting to fielding, the Twins rank in the top half of the league in all accept for a handful. This Twins team is lighting up the statistics across the board. Not to mention they have a Cy Young award frontrunner in Jose Berrios. One more thing that I love about this team is that they are so incredibly well-rounded. Byron Buxton is batting in the nine hole, and he is arguably our hottest hitter right now. Across this lineup any player can strike fear into opponents. It is difficult to prove a teams well-roundedness in statistics sometimes, but here is one that helps prove it. Byron Buxton leads the league in doubles. He is the only Twins player to lead the league in any category. This means that the Twins don’t have one player doing all the damage and carrying the load: it shows that everyone is doing their part.

Now you are feeling one of two ways. Either you are bored to death from all the statistics that were just thrown at you in which case I’m not sure how you made it this far in the article, or you are amazed and had no idea how well the Twins are playing. Either way I’m going to throw a couple final points at you to prove that the Twins are among the league’s best. I listed nine batting statistics above in which the Twins were ranked in the top three in the league, and ranked first in one. In six of those categories that the Twins were not ranked first, one of (if not the only team) ahead of them was the Houston Astros. The Houston Astros just finished a 10 game win streak to storm into the top of the MLB with the best record (right in front of the Twins). Before yesterday, the Astros hadn’t lost a game since May 2nd. Want to know who beat them? It was the Twins. In fact, before going on this winning tear, the Astros lost three of the games in a four game series to the Twins. The Twins record versus the Astros this season is 4-3, and they don’t play them again. The Twins officially won the season series against the best team in baseball when the Astros were playing at their best.

Of course I have to give you one little bit to be cautious about. The Twins have a winning record against every team they have faced this year except for one team… the New York Yankees. Why should we be nervous about this? Well because the Yankees are the Twins Kryptonite. Five out of the last six times the Twins have made it to the playoffs they have been knocked out by the Yankees in the first round. Taking out the one game wildcard play-in, the Twins have lost four five game series to the Yankees, and they have never won two games. It hasn’t even been close. However, the 2019 Twins team has shown so far this year that they don’t care about their rough recent history, so Twins fans across the Twin Cities are hoping that these losing ways with the dang Bronx Bombers are behind them as well.

So Twins fans, I know it’s only May and we can’t get ahead of ourselves, but just keep an eye on this team. They have the potential to do some damage throughout the rest of the season. There are a lot of games left to be played, and you never know what is going to happen, but it’s safe to get a little bit excited by now because we have become accustomed to some very poor baseball here in the recent years. Go get some cheap tickets, buy a hot dog and some crackerjacks, take your family out to the ballgame, and root root root for the home team!