With only 157 games to go, the Minnesota Twins are atop of the AL Central Division with a 4-1 record. At that rate, Minnesota is on pace to go 129-33, which would only be 13 more wins than the best record in MLB history… Okay I guess we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves just yet.
Considering the small sample size, the Twins have actually shown some signs of life that would indicate this could be a much better season than last year.
Already the Twins have shown that they can win games in multiple fashions. They started the season with 2-0 win over Cleveland that showcased quality pitching from ace Jose Berrios. Berrios pitched 7.2 scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts against last year’s AL Central champs.
After losing 2-1 in another pitcher’s duel, the Twins bats have since woken up to win three straight games. Minnesota dominated Cleveland 9-3, beat Kansas City 5-4 in extra innings and had an impressive come-from-behind win again over the Royals 7-6.
Last year, most of the free agents the Twins signed simply did not pan out. Obviously it is still incredibly early to decide whether this class of free agents will perform better, but so far the signs have been encouraging.
Designated hitter Nelson Cruz has been exactly what Minnesota needs for the middle of the lineup, batting .333 with a home run and six RBI’s. Cruz even had the game winning hit in the 10th inning of Tuesday night’s affair.
Since 2014 when he led the league with 40 home runs, he has tallied totals of 44, 43, 39 and 37. His lowest RBI total in that stretch was 93 while also notching a league leading 119 just two years ago. It seems like the veteran power hitting DH might be exactly the threat the Twins need to solidify the 4th spot in the order.
Apart from experiencing a rib injury, even Byron Buxton has been good so far in 2019. Batting .308 and playing elite defense, it is hard to complain about what he has been doing. Taking a rest day for his ribs, Buxton played a huge part as a pinch-runner in the 7-6 comeback win over the Royals on Wednesday. He stole his 30th consecutive base that would eventually be the game winning run for the Twins.
Courtesy of Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman on Twitter), no player in MLB history has a stolen base success rate above 90% with at least 50 attempts… except Byron Buxton. I just really hope Buxton can stay healthy.
Lastly, the Twins might have accidentally stumbled into a replacement for Miguel Sano at third base. Willians Astudillo is 6-9 on the season with five runs scored, three doubles and three RBI’s. Obviously the Twins need a healthy Sano in the lineup if they want to be the best that they can be, but “La Tortuga” as Astudillo is affectionately known has been really fun to watch.
Plus, if you take a look at the highest average in MLB history with a minimum of 100 plate appearances (data courtesy Aaron Gleeman), the proof is really in the data. Ty Cobb: .366 avg. Willians Astudillo: .382 avg. Clearly we have an all-timer on our hands folks.
All kidding aside, the Twins look like they might be in for a competitive, entertaining and simply fun summer, and that is all anyone can ask for.