Minnesota Twins: A Twins Fan’s Guide on who to root for to end 2021

Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Nelson Cruz reacts after hitting a solo home run against the Boston Red Sox in the fifth inning at Fenway Park. (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)
Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Nelson Cruz reacts after hitting a solo home run against the Boston Red Sox in the fifth inning at Fenway Park. (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Minnesota Twins
Jose Berrios of the Toronto Blue Jays in action against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on September 09, 2021 in New York City. The Blue Jays defeated the Yankees 6-4. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

Wild Card Contenders for Minnesota Twins Fans to Root For

San Diego Padres (75-70, 19.5 GB in the NL West, 1 GB in Wild Card)

Nearly 20 games behind the division-leading Giants, the Padres are fighting to sneak into the playoffs. Despite the ridiculous talent on the roster, the Padres are still one game out of a playoff spot (Twins fans can definitely relate to this one).

The team doesn’t have any Minnesota connections, but Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado are one of the most fun duos in baseball and their pitching is excellent. If they can make it into the playoffs, this will be a team to watch, as Joe Musgrove would be tough to beat in the Wild Card game. First they have to make it in.

St. Louis Cardinals (76-69, 12.5 GB in the NL Central, Second NL Wild Card)

The Cardinals are built to be a playoff team, with three solid starters, a great bullpen and a deep lineup. They are 9-6 in September and with two former Twins on the roster (they took J.A. Happ off our hands!), Twins fans can easily find a way to root for this team.

Their biggest obstacle is their remaining schedule. St. Louis has three games against the Padres, seven against the Brewers, and seven against the Cubs (who want to spoil the Cardinals’ fun) the rest of the way. If they win at least two of three against the Padres, this team has a shot.

Cincinnati Reds (75-71, 14.0 GB in NL Central, 1.5 GB in Wild Card)

The Reds are in the same situation as the Cardinals and Padres, only with less talent. All three teams won’t win a title, but they’re all within two games of each other for the Wild Card. With no former Twins, a terrible bullpen, and an uphill climb to the playoffs, they may not be a Twins fan’s favorite team, but there is a lot to like here.

Nick Castellanos, the walking meme, will receive MVP votes. Castellanos, Tyler Naquin, Jesse Winker, Eugenio Suarez, Jonathan India, and Joey Votto all will hit at least 20 homers. They have a stellar rotation. This is a fun team, and they’ll fun to watch as they fight to make it back to the playoffs for the second year in a row.

Boston Red Sox (83-65, 8.0 GB in AL East, Tied for AL Wild Card)

While a lot of people don’t like big-spending teams like the Red Sox, Twins fans are very familiar with this team. Former Twins Danny Santana, Martin Perez, and Hansel Robles all play key roles for the Sox, and with a good lineup and solid rotation, all three could see the playoffs this year.

Led by Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, J.D. Martinez, Alex Verdugo, and Hunter Renfroe, this team can put up runs by the bunches, while a possible playoff rotation of Chris Sale, Nathan Eovaldi, and Tanner Houck would do some damage. This team has to hold of Oakland and win the tiebreakers over Toronto and New York, but if they do, watch out.

Toronto Blue Jays (82-64, 8.0 GB in AL East, Tied for AL Wild Card)

Speaking of Toronto, the Blue Jays are an extremely easy team for Twins fans to root for. They’re young, led by potential Triple Crown winner Vladimir Guerrero Jr, and featuring former Minnesota Twins All-Star Jose Berrios. That’s a whole lot to like.

Guerrero Jr. (who will finish as runner-up in the AL MVP race) is joined by 20/20 man Bo Bichette, 40-Homer slugger Marcus Semien, and a fantastic outfield/DH group of George Springer, Teoscar Hernandez, Randal Grichuk, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Those last four have combined for 85 homers and 301 RBI, and none of this even mentions their excellent bench starring Cavan Biggio and Corey Dickerson.

The lineup is currently sitting at first in homers, slugging percentage, and OPS while landing second in batting average and runs. They’re also third in OBP. Their rotation, starring Berrios, Robbie Ray, and rookie Alek Manoah, is excellent as well. If their bullpen continues to hold up and they fend off the others on this list, this team could make a run.