The Minnesota Twins look destined to pull off one of the biggest rebounds in recent MLB history and make the playoffs.
Losing 103 games in 2016, the Minnesota twins were the worst team in Major League Baseball. They lost nine more games than the Cincinnati Reds. It was a shocking fall for a team that had surprised in 2015 by winning 83 games in Paul Molitor’s first season at the helm. The Twins cleaned house in their front office following the abysmal season and were expected to struggle to get out of the AL Central basemen this year.
No one expected to be writing about the Twins as a possible playoff contender entering the final two weeks of the season, but here we are. They got off to a hot start in April and have managed to weather several storms throughout the year. At the trade deadline, their playoff chances looked slim and Jaime Garcia and closer Brandon Kintzler were dealt away. The Twins responded by going 20-10 in the month of August, buoyed by the explosion of center fielder Byron Buxton and the resurgence of first baseman Joe Mauer.
As improbable as it seems that the Twins hold a three-game lead for the final American League playoff spot with 15 games to go, the team that was ranked 29th in FanSided’s preseason MLB Power Rankings (whoops) holds the inside track to the one-game playoff. Here are five big reasons they will hold on and make it back to October for the first time since 2010.
5. The offense keeps the line moving
The Twins are far from a star-studded team, but every player in the lineup knows what his role is and has executed it to near perfection in their run dating back to the beginning of August. Minnesota has been among the best offenses in the league in the second half, slashing .269/.346/.470. They limit their strikeouts and are more than willing to take a walk.
Without hitting for a great deal of power (and being without Miguel Sano since Aug. 19 due to a stress reaction), the Twins have managed to post a top-five OPS in the American League. In many ways, their lineup and offensive approach are reminiscent of the 2015-16 Kansas City Royals who were incredibly difficult to strike out. Because they do not strike out often, the Twins are able to avoid the types of September slumps that can lead to collapses down the stretch.