Tom Greene | August 29th, 2019
Two days after the Atlanta Braves joined the 80-win club, the Minnesota Twins join the party. In Atlanta, there seems to be some doubt as far as the pitching goes. In Minnesota, fans and broadcasters (like Jenny Taft, Jamie Hersch, Marney Gellner, Dawn Mitchell, Jamie Erdahl, and Kevin Gorg,) are simply excited that this season has exceeded expectations. Of course, this is said on one condition. Our @jball0202 expects championships in Minnesota, and nothing else (maybe championship-style writing from me? I do my best.)
Coming in, Rocco Baldelli was doing something he never did before, manage a baseball club. However, with his MLB playing and coaching experience, the Twins believed in him, and so far, he and the team have delivered. At 80-51, they hope to challenge the Yankees and Astros for a top seed in the Playoff hunt… while also fending off the Indians for the American League Central Division.
While Baldelli can’t bring back Jack Morris, he can certainly help bring back the magic the Twins had in the 80s, and now we’ll break down how that magic came to be this season in this installment of “Backtrax MLB!” We start, as always, with…
These bats, like the Braves’ bats, are unique. Only Luis Arraez is batting over .300. But, five players (Jorge Polanco, Eddie Rosario, Max Kepler, Nelson Cruz, and Marwin Gonzalez) have over 100 hits. C.J. Cron will be joining that parade with one more hit. Polanco has been the driving force that’s kept the machine running. He’s played the most games (125), has the most hits (153) and has the most doubles (33) on the team. He may not have the most Homers or RBIs, but he’s “Just what the Twins needed” as the engine of “The Cars” that is the offense. Of course, we can’t forget about the power that Miguel Sano brings, can’t we?
“My Best Friend’s Girl” in the offense (No, not Audra Martin, she wasn’t mine, either) is Kepler. With 35 homers and 86 RBI’s, Germany and Minneapolis are proud of this blossoming superstar. He used to belong to Germany, now he belongs to Minnesota. Of course, I can’t let that Cars reference go without referring to Willians Astudillo. He may be on the IL now, but guys, watch out. He could become as famous as Bartolo Colon. You should like him. I do.
To “Shake it up” in the lineup, the Twins brought in Gonzalez from Houston. While he hasn’t been the leader in the lineup, he’s helped lead the team with his championship experience from the Astros. Of course, his 105 hits help for sure. The Bomba Squad has certainly shaken up the MLB, with 255 home runs to date, this could bode well for the postseason. Now, let’s break down…
With a starting ERA of 4.05, the rotation hasn’t been “Magic” all season, but it’s getting there. Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi have been competing all season to see which one should start in Game 1 of the postseason, and both are competing well. Berrios’ ERA is the lowest (3.53), but he’s given up the most hits (158). Odorizzi’s ERA is similar (3.57), but he’s given up the least hits (116). While that battle ensues, Kyle Gibson, Martin Perez, and Michael Pineda have been placeholders that have been efficient. Because those three have kept the Twins balanced in the standings, the “Good Times Roll” on!
‘”You Might Think” The Bullpen is still being questioned by fans. But, the stats say the Pen seems to “Drive” the team home. With an average ERA of 3.36, the bullpen certainly has fewer questions than that of the Braves or Cubs. The acquisition of Sergio Romo from Miami, like Gonzalez from the Astros, brings championship experience to a club that lacked it for many years. Trevor May, a former starter, has had success in the transition to the pen, similar to Shane Greene in Detroit. Taylor Rogers has also had many reps towards the end of a game. The pen may seem shaky when you watch it, and this can make fans uneasy. However, if the pen straightens up at the right time, the Twins could be primed for a long postseason run.
We are now five teams down in the 80s series. These Twins may have fewer questions to answer than the Braves, but as more teams enter the club, more questions will be asked regarding their postseason status. As for the Twins, the thought is, “Let’s Go! I’ve got the Night Life, Baby!” (OK, that’ll be the last Cars Reference, I promise).
As for this series, it will be cool to see which teams reach the 80s before others do. Will the next five teams that enter the 80s be playoff-bound? We shall see.
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images