Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Twins, Then And Now

The Twins are in the midst of a heated race for the final AL Wild Card spot, and while they are running out of games, getting to this point has been a heck of a journey. Having suffered through four straight 90 loss campaigns, being back on the positive side of things is a nice change. Winning isn't new to this franchise however, and the most interesting aspect may be just how the winning takes place.

2010 saw the Twins compile a 94-68 record under Ron Gardenhire, good enough for first in the AL Central. Fueled by an incredible 48-26 in the second half, that club rolled into the playoffs with momentum on their side. The record wasn't the only difference though, as Gardenhire's 25 was of a different breed as well.

Valued in order by fWAR, the 2010 Twins were led by Joe Mauer (5.0), Justin Morneau (4.9), Jim Thome (3.0), Orlando Hudson (3.0), and Denard Span (2.6). In total, 11 offensive players have fWAR seasons above 1.0. The rotation was filled out by five double-digit game winners in Carl Pavano, Francisco Liriano, Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn, and Kevin Slowey, and Gardenhire had a capable pen.

Looking at the construction of the roster as a whole, that team was filled by a handful of veterans performing in or after their prime. Thome brought spark to the Twins while Mauer and Morneau carried the club. Span and Hudson remained assets, and the playoffs were made as an execution of the expectations laid out prior to the season.

Fast forward to where we are now. This Twins club currently has 82 wins, with just four games left. By fWAR, the club's top performers are Brian Dozier (3.6), Trevor Plouffe (2.4), Eddie Rosario (2.3), Miguel Sano (2.2), and Aaron Hicks (1.5). On the season, the 2015 Twins have just seven players with fWAR totals over 1.0 (which would add just Eduardo Escobar and Eduardo Nunez to the fold). Among the final rotation, only two pitchers (Kyle Gibson and Phil Hughes) have double digit win totals.

There's little room for argument that the current Twins squad holds a candle to the one that last made the playoffs. Forget the fact that the playoffs aren't yet a reality, and 90 wins certainly won't be. The talent discrepancy between the two squads is apparent on paper alone. What is also very simple to see however, is what was and is next for both teams.

Four years of turmoil came out of the last playoff squad, with the most likely outcome this time around being at least four years of playoff runs. A younger organization filled with high profile prospects trending in the right direction is generally a recipe for good things to come. Comparing directly doesn't do wonders for this team, but there's no doubt it owns the edge in the future trends category.

It's easy to see the Twins current team and the one from the last playoff run aren't in the same boat, but there's little doubt this one is going places soon. Knowing how much fun this run has been, and that it's just the tip of the iceberg, it's best to enjoy what was, and be excited about what will be.

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