Minnesota Twins: A Discussion of Contenders vs. Pretenders
The Minnesota Twins have started the season off on a solid foot. Can they sustain their early success or are fans being set up for disappointment?
To say the Twins’ 17-14 start has been a surprise would be an understatement. The 2016 campaign saw the team setting records in the worst ways. Nobody expected the Twins to be tied for first in the division 30 games into the 2017 season.
It hasn’t been a smooth ride, however. After starting the season 5-0 with a 0.66 ERA, Ervin Santana was rocked on Sunday against the Boston Red Sox, giving up six earned runs on five hits and watched his ERA balloon to 1.72. The entire staff had a rough day, ultimately giving up 17 runs with ten of them coming in the 9th inning, off of three Twins relievers.
A bright spot on the staff has definitely been Brandon Kintzler stepping into the closer role. Kintzler has been solid in the 9th with just over 13 innings pitched and a 2.70 ERA. With Glen Perkins on the disabled list for an undetermined amount of time, Kinztler has been a nice surprise at the position.
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Offense was the Achilles heel for the 2016 Twins. Have they turned it around in 2017?
Offense has been another source of concern for the Twins coming off of a season where it seemed the team could not buy a run. However, early in the season there have been some bright spots for the Twins. Namely, Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario, who both have batting averages hovering at or near .300 on the young season.
Sano also leads the team in home runs and RBIs, and while Rosario isn’t a traditional power hitter, his ability to find the base paths has translated into runs for the Twins.
Meanwhile, Brian Dozier has not continued his hot pace from 2016 and was out several games with a sprained ankle. Despite not being on track for another 42 home runs, he brings a consistent, veteran presence to the lineup. Joe Mauer had a slow start to April but has rebounded nicely in May and has wowed with some stellar defensive plays at first base.
From a season of absolutely nothing to brag about to first in the division, the Twins have proven that their hot start was not a fluke. The wild card is going to be, as always, the health of the team. With only three every day position players over 30, the team looks much younger than it has in recent years. The pitching staff is another matter where the age range is 26-37 years old. If the club can manage everyone’s innings effectively, age shouldn’t be a factor.
Next: Twins series versus Indians could be telling.
So, are the 2017 Twins for real? Or are we setting ourselves up for our yearly let down? So far, so good, despite a few rough patches, but we are only 30 games in. So what do you say, Twins Territory? Are they pretenders? Or are they contenders?