Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Everything Breaking Right For Twins

Coming off a 103 loss campaign a season ago, there was plenty of room for tempered expectations in 2017. While many feared another lackluster season, the expectation always should have been a generous step forward. Given the uncertainty of youth, a three year span with a boom, buster, and normalization felt appropriate to surmise. As we go down the stretch in 2017 however, the Twins have become much more.

Going into 2017, I felt pretty confident that something in the upper 70's seemed like a realistic win total for Minnesota. A .500 record seemed doable, if not a best case scenario, but a certainty to bank on was the floor not once again dropping out. Fast forward to late August and the hometown nine is within striking distance of the division, and pacing a tight knit group for the second Wild Card spot. The results have no doubt been a culmination of 120 plus games of solid baseball, but right now, something different is taking place.

Looking ahead, the 2018 Twins appear to be a team that should target the Postseason or bust. With the maturation of the youth, integration of the veterans, and the landscape of their division, it's a perfect storm. That all held relatively true regardless of what took place this season. Over the past few weeks however, it's been a tying of the old guard, and the new, that has really positioned Minnesota to crack a smile.

As of this writing, Brian Dozier, Joe Mauer, Jorge Polanco, Byron Buxton, and Eddie Rosario are all pacing Minnesota at the same time. Hot streaks tend to come and go, but each of the aforementioned names have seen a consistent and sustained level of success over a period of weeks. While it's great on an individual basis, it's also explained why the Twins have been so able to fight off regression. It's fair to wonder whether one may cool off, but with the chips stacked as five players go off at the same time, there's definitely some room for error.

Each player could have an entire post dedicated to their surge, but from a snapshot view, here's what we're looking at from the names above since the month of August kicked off:

  • Brian Dozier .333/.429/.702 12 XBH 9 HR
  • Joe Mauer .303/.379/.395 5 XBH 1 HR
  • Jorge Polanco .382/.417/.647 10 XBH 3 HR
  • Byron Buxton .316/.349/.566 9 XBH 4 HR
  • Eddie Rosario .346/.375/.679 13 XBH 7 HR
That group above accounts for over half of the Twins nightly lineup. Given the fact that their combined average is well north of .300, and they have produced a glut of extra base hits, it's no wonder why the Minnesota offense is clicking. There's some like Rosario and Buxton that have sustained it longer than others, but the goal is to try and continue to increase the sample size for each of the parties involved.

Quite possibly the best news about the group currently putting the Twins ahead on a nightly basis, are the names it doesn't include. Miguel Sano has been scuffling since the All Star Break (and is currently on the DL), while Max Kepler has yet to really find a groove in 2017. In it's entirety, that full contingent of seven players remain with Minnesota not only for this year, but at least the one that lies ahead as well.

It'd be foolish to suggest that Minnesota is a World Series contender in its current state. As we've seen as 2017 has drawn on though, this team is ready to make some waves. The offseason ahead provides some real opportunity to supplement a strong nucleus, and continuing to get production from a blend of player types will have a Derek Falvey and Thad Levine squad as must watch entertainment.

At some point in the not so distant future, it's a good bet there will be some cooling off. The hope would be that opponents fall victim to the same situation. Given the lay of the land however, the Twins have the deck stacked in their favor right now, and that's not a bad situation to be in at all.

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