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MLB OctoberFest: The Minnesota Twins

The Minnesota Twins are hungry for their first AL Pennant since they won the World Series in 1991. Is 2020 their playoff year?

Byron Buxton by Andy Witchger is licensed under CC 2.0

MLB OctoberFest: The Minnesota Twins


Estimated Reading Time: 3 Minutes

Well, the 2020 MLB Playoffs are upon us.  As baseball finally moves into it’s Bubble phase, 16 teams are squaring off to determine this year’s World Series champion.  While it’s hard to think that there won’t be an asterisk next to the 2020 title, a champion will be crowned.

The MLB is a fickle beast.  Star-driven and tank-friendly, teams in the dumpster one year can be the king of the mountain the next.  With that, stakes are high for almost every team as they make their playoff run, with sought-after stars often heading for greener pastures if they feel their squad can’t get over the hump. 

We’re looking at each of the MLB playoff contenders and diving into what’s at stake for each team, the odds of making a deep run, and key storylines to watch. 

Let’s hit the Minnesota Twins, and their chances at securing a ring in 2020.


The Minnesota Twins


Expectations:

The Twins currently have the fifth best odds in the AL to win the World Series, so a fair expectation is for them to win their first series (unless they play the team we’ll mention later) and that’s it.

What’s Working for Them:

The Twins have something going for them in almost all facets of the game.

They have a deep lineup with six players having a .750+ OPS and are one of the top teams in the AL in home runs, led by this icon:

They have four solid starters and are also a top AL team in runs allowed and strikeouts, and one of the bottom teams in the league in terms of walks issued.

The Twins are also one of the most disciplined teams in the field as they have committed the second fewest errors in the league.

Lastly, Rocco Baldelli is the defending manager of the year and has guided the team to back-to-back seasons with a winning percentage over .600.

What Might Hold Them Back:

The New York Yankees.

Sure, there are other things that could go wrong. But if the Twins get matched up with the Yankees at any point, history tells us it won’t be good for the Minnesota Nine.

Since 2003, the Twins and Yankees have met five times in the Division Series.

The Twins have lost all five matchups and have a record of 2-15 in those series. The Yankees also beat the Twins in the Wild Card Game in 2017.

It’s just not a good history here.

Also, they don’t steal bases, which could come into play in the late innings of a close game. And on the other side of that coin, their closer Taylor Rogers has the worst WHIP (1.55) out of the 21 pitchers who have more than 5 saves this season.

Storyline to Watch

Is Byron Buxton good?

From 2014 to 2016, Buxton was arguably the #1 or #2 prospect in baseball. He looked like he was sure to be a five-tool superstar and one of the top players in the league.

The results of his first 400 career games did not align with these lofty expectations though. He had a 5 WAR season in 2017 with 16 HR and 29 SB, but his ’18 and ’19 season were marred by injuries and poor performance.

Buxton just might be turning the corner at the best time for the Twins. He’s in the midst of his best month ever with 8 HR and an OPS over 1.000 (albeit while only walking one time).

If this is the start of Buxton finally realizing his potential, then he represents the kind of X-Factor that can be the catalyst to a championship run for Minnesota.

Terry is from Massachusetts and is a passionate fan of the Patriots, Celtics, Red Sox and Bruins. He also will admit he only pays attention to Syracuse basketball when they're good. If there's a Twitter trade rumor even remotely associated with one of his teams, he's likely fallen for it. Finally, he believes 100% that if the Celtics had beaten the Heat in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals they would have swept the Thunder in the Finals.

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