Minnesota fans are used to disappointment.
The role of the lovable loser is tiring, so it’s time for a Minnesota team to shock us and to bring us a title.
For a fan base that has not seen a World Series appearance in nearly 30 years, the magical first half of the 2019 campaign has brought about a sudden surge in interest of the local club. It’s brought about hope.
Two years ago the Twins put together a nice season, earning a spot in the postseason where they would fall to the Yankees (of course) in a one-game play-in.
Last year came with high hopes, but in traditional Minnesota fashion, the team broke down and was out of contention fairly early.
The Cleveland Indians rolled to the division title. This off-season, veteran Joe Mauer retired, Manager Paul Molitor was fired and a number of new players were brought in with expectations seemingly tempered in an American League field that looked to once again be dominated by the likes of the Yankees, Red Sox and Astros.
Remarkably, the Twins unexpectedly turned in one of the most memorable first-half performances in the history of the franchise. Despite just a .500 record since June 15, the Twins finished the pre-All Star game schedule with a record of 56-33, joining the ’69 team (59-37) as the top two in Twins history. The Twins are on pace to win more than 100 games for just the second time in franchise history.
The only other time was in 1965 (the year the Twins fell in seven games to the Dodgers in the World Series).
Most notably the Twins power display has been what has caught the attention of the baseball world and longtime fans. Through 89 games the Twins have belted a league record 166 home runs (already matching last year’s total) and are on pace to shatter the league record set by the Yankees a season ago.
They also have a collective .497 slugging percentage. If that number stands up the Twins will statistically be the greatest power hitting team in the history of the league. The Twins have nine players with double-digit home runs (Byron Buxton has nine) led by Max Kepler with 21, Eddie Rosario with 20, CJ Cron with 17, Nelson Cruz with 16, Jonathan Schoop with 14, Miguel Sano, Jorge Palonco and Mitch Garver all with 13 and Jason Castro and Marwin Gonzalez both with 10.
Palonco’s numbers earned him a starting berth in the All-Star game for the American League, as he has batted a solid .312 with 111 hits, 23 doubles, 13 home runs and 42 RBI.
The Twins pitching has also been steady with Jake Odorizzi going 10-4 with a 3.15 ERA and 96 Ks; Kyle Gibson going 8-4 with 94 Ks; Martin Perez going 8-3 with 85 Ks and Jose Berrios going 8-5 with a 3.0 ERA, 104 Ks and just 23 walks. Odorizzi and Berrios both earned All-Star berths. The eye-opening first half has helped the Twins position themselves for a second-half battle with a surging Cleveland squad.
My hopes are the Twins front office will be aggressive prior to the trade deadline and look for more pitching. These kinds of teams do not come along very often, and the fan base deserves to not only enjoy this run but to see the front office do everything in its power to give the team a chance for post-season success.
For me, my simple request of the Twins was to get me to football season. This season, they’ve not only got my attention but have me thinking that maybe, just maybe, we’ve got a team that could end the Minnesota curse.