Minnesota Twins Quietly Rise As An AL Power
Riding a Marwin Gonzalez home run last night, the Minnesota Twins stretched out their first place position despite most eyes finding their way to the Yankees vs. Red Sox rivalry or the red hot Houston Astros battle the always dangerous Oakland A’s.
While the Twins already possess an identity that prompts their players to excel without a spotlight that a New York team might draw, the club’s continued success deserves recognition among the headline-writing Yankees and Astros.
After success that rolled over from season to season, the Cleveland Indians appear lost as their former playoff pedigree deteriorates day by day. With Cleveland’s fall from prosperity, the Twins now sit atop the AL Central, leading substantially with a double–digit game distance between themselves and division’s former kings. Lead by the league’s youngest manager, Rocco Baldelli, Minnesota’s first-place lead threatens to only grow larger with the club’s surprisingly effective pitching rotation and productive play at the plate.
Across key offensive statistical categories such as batting average, on base percentage, total hits, home runs and RBIs, at least one Twins player strikes the top five amongst all American League hitters. Most notably, Jorge Polanco continues to set the bar high for hitters as he leads the American League, sporting a .335 batting average. Meanwhile, left fielder Eddie Rosario brings the power at the plate, hitting 17 home runs while also driving in 49 total runs, which place Rosario into second place among American League hitters for both statistical categories. As a team, Minnesota leads the entire league in home runs, batting average, and RBIs even with slugger Nelson Cruz absent from the lineup, displaying their consistent offensive dominance while possessing a convincing reason to expect the onslaught to continue in Cruz’s upcoming return.
The recently assembled Minnesota rotation generally tears through opponents as well, combing for a league sixth-best 3.84 ERA. Although Minnesota’s pitchers fail to display prosperity equal to those swinging the bat, this more so speaks to Minnesota’s offensive excellence, rather than diminish their overall well–oiled pitching staff. Jake Odorizzi fills the undisputed ace role, dealing each time he ascends to the mound with an American League-best 2.16 ERA. Starters Kyle Gibson, Jose Berrios, and Martin Perez follow quickly behind Odorizzi, as the three combine to post a 3.58 ERA. However, todays league leans further and further on bullpen pitching, illuminating an inevitable singular flaw for Minnesota, as their pen ranks toward the league’s bottom half with just a 4.37 ERA.
Although those working from the bullpen require some fine–tuning, this squad’s efficiency across the board illustrates why they find themselves scorching hot, hoisting a belt with the words “Best American League Record” painted across it. Whether or not this bunch will hold onto that belt as the seasons continues to play out expectedly remains unanswered. Nonetheless, while the Twins may not sell jerseys or demand the attention that the Yankees and Astros do, they remain not only a team treading water in a powerful American League, but swimming fast and forward towards an AL Central crown.