Tuesday, July 12, 2011

5 Reasons the Twins Will Be In It

As MLB heads into the All Star break (did the first part of the season fly by or what?), it seems appropriate to check in and review the state of our beloved Minnesota Twins.  And what surprises await!   
The largest, and most shocking, is that the Twins, down 16.5 games on June 1 (no, that is not a typo - sixteen and half games) have narrowed that gap down to 6.5.  While they got some help as Cleveland came back to the pack, they still went and played .686 baseball over the past 35 games, and clawed their way back into it.  Now, they're not out of the woods as they're still 7 games below .500, but still, to be back in it after being left for dead at the end of May is a remarkable thing.   
They were able to get into this position based on some of the kids finally contributing (Revere is a bone fide lead off, and Valencia has had some timely hitting), the pitching coming around, and Michael Cuddyer absolutely carrying the team on his shoulders. 
Note that there is a lot of reason for optimism for the rest of the season.  Consider the following: 
  1. They're about to get some starters back.  Delmon Young is set to return to the big club, and most importantly, Denard Span is starting to recover from his concussion.  Once Span returns, the lineup gets much, much better, and would look something like Revere CF, Span LF, Mauer C, Cuddyer 1B, Thome DH, Young RF, Valencia 3B, Casilla 2B, Nishioka SS.  That is a lineup that can score some serious runs.
  2. They'll also be adding additional bat power down the stretch.  Both Kubel and Morneau are expected to join the team in August.  They'll be able to reenter the lineup slowly, and will hopefully be hitting their stride come September.  
  3. Speaking of September, when the call-ups happen on 9/1, the Twins will have the luxury of tapping into a talent pool that's had a lot of major league experience.  Guys like Tosoni, Repko, Hughes, and Plouffe all got a decent amount of big league at bats this year, and hopefully won't be too intimidated come late season.  
  4. It is only a matter of time for Joe Mauer to hit.  While he's currently hitting an anemic .243, we know that's not where he is going to end the season.  He'll eventually find his way near .300, so that means he will heat up and will have a number of weeks where he'll hit .400 and will be able to carry things.  This will occur.  
  5. However, the biggest reason for optimism for the Twins is their schedule.  They have 12 games left against the Tigers, 13 games against the Indians, and 9 games against the White Sox.  By winning those series, the Twins can control their own destiny.  Also, they have 41 of their remaining 71 games at home, and start after the break with 12 straight games at home, all against divisional teams.  A hot start after the break will make things very interesting for the rest of the season.  
I'll admit - I had this team written off for dead.  But as one can see above, they're far from deceased, and are in control as to how the rest of the season will play out.  

What a great come back.   

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