The Minnesota Twins are huge underdogs in the AL Wild Card Game, but anything can happen in the game of baseball.
Last year, the Minnesota Twins lost 103 games. This year, they have become the first team in MLB history to go from topping the century mark in the loss column to the postseason. The Twins claimed the second Wild Card in the American League by winning 85 games and fending off a group of flawed challengers.
Their reward for one of the biggest turnarounds in MLB history — a date with the New York Yankees, one of the hottest teams in the league. The Twins were swept at Yankee Stadium the last time the teams played, and Aaron Judge has found his stroke just in time for the playoffs.
It will not be an easy task for the Twins to get to the ALDS and a chance to knock off the actual hottest team in MLB history. Minnesota can worry about Cleveland later. They must get past their single-elimination game first.
The Twins do not have many household names, but they do have Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano, two of the most exciting young players in the game. Dependable veteran Ervin Santana will start the playoff game on Tuesday in the Bronx. The right-hander led the league in complete games and shutouts this year.
Minnesota has a solid cast of underrated players that came together to buck the odds. Eddie Rosario quietly hit nearly 30 home runs while driving in 78 with an .837 OPS. Joe Mauer also experienced a career revival at the age of 34. Mauer hit over .300 for the first time since 2013.
The Wild Card Games have delivered some of the more memorable moments in recent MLB history, and the Twins finding a way to beat the heavily-favored Yankees would be up there with the best of them. Here are the five biggest reasons the Twins can pull off the upset and shock the world.
5. Paul Molitor is steady at the helm
Few Hall of Fame players have found success as easily managing in an MLB dugout than Paul Molitor. The 103 losses last year were in no way indicative of his talents as a manager. In two of his three years managing the Twins, Molitor has had them exceed expectations by a wide margin.
All-Star players like Molitor was typically have a harder time identifying with and molding young players, but he has done a phenomenal job with the Twins. He is not an in-your-face manager, but still gets the most out of his players. Molitor exudes a quiet confidence in the dugout, and his team never quits on a game.
The key with Molitor is that he will not lose his team the game with a bad decision. That means Bartolo Colon certainly won’t be pitching in extra innings while the closer sits in the bullpen because the score is still tied.