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
Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Nelson Cruz celebrates after hitting a home run during the fourth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. (Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports /

Heavyweight Contenders for Minnesota Twins Fans to Cheer for

This final category has just three teams, but these are the best three teams in baseball. Each one as at least one former Minnesota Twins player on their roster, so you can find a reason to support even the big guns.

Tampa Bay Rays (90-56, First in the AL East)

The only American League team with a shot at 100 wins, the small-market Rays should be easy for Minnesota Twins fans to root for. For starters, Crosby native and former Twins prospect Nick Anderson is joined by former Twins J.T. Chargois and Matt Wisler in the bullpen. None of them compare however to cheering for Nelson Cruz as he tries to earn his first ring.

The Rays have a stellar bullpen, and despite a so-so rotation that’s been swallowed by injuries, they keep chugging along. It’s very questionable how they will perform in the playoffs, but I trust Kevin Cash (for the most part).

The lineup is very good, with Wander Franco, Mike Zunino, Brandon Lowe and company showing that OPS matters more than a good batting average. Add in a very talented bench, and this is a group that you can’t count out (despite a lack of star power).

San Francisco Giants (95-51, First in the NL West)

Absolutely no one saw the Giants winning 100 games this season, yet here they are, right on the cusp with 16 games to go. Another team with Minnesota Twins ties, Zack Littell, LaMonte Wade Jr, and Taylor Rogers’ brother Tyler play huge roles on baseball’s second-deepest team.

The rotation is led by the fantastic trio of ace Kevin Gausman, breakout starter Logan Webb, and bargain bin steal Anthony DeSclafini with good bounce-back seasons from Alex Wood and Johnny Cueto bringing up the back of the rotation. The bullpen rivals the Brewers’ group, and this pitching group will be a major problem for opponents in the playoffs.

The lineup, which was bolstered by the trade-deadline addition of Kris Bryant, already offers Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, and Brandon Crawford, all of whom are making it feel like it’s the Giants heyday (2010-2014 was a way better time) all over again. Throw in Evan Longoria, Donavan Solano and Darin Ruf, and this veteran team can make some noise.

Los Angeles Dodgers (94-53, 1.5 GB in the NL West, First NL Wild Card)

Baseball’s second best team may seem like an exciting feat to most teams (Minnesota Twins fans would kill for that to be our team), but to the Dodgers it’s a massive disappointment. No team in baseball has more star power, and with former Minnesota Twins pitcher Brusdar Graterol, there’s even a Minnesota connection to root for.

No rotation in baseball is deeper than the Dodgers. Even with reigning Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer out, the Dodgers still have Max Scherzer, Walker Buehler, Julio Urias, Clayton Kershaw, and Tony Gonsolin. Imagine being good enough to have David Price be a reliever for your team and Clayton Kershaw or 18-game winner Julio Urias not even make your playoff rotation. Wow.

It doesn’t stop there. Their bullpen is littered with so many elite arms that some had to be sent down because there were just too many. Their lineup features Will Smith, Mookie Betts, Max Muncy, Justin Turner, Corey Seager, and Max Muncy. Their bench is very good, led by a future Hall of Famer chasing one final ring.

It may be hard for Minnesota Twins fans to jump on a bandwagon and root for the *new* New York Yankees, but this team is very fun to watch and will be the toughest out come October. Who will you be rooting for this postseason?

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