Well, to be .500 at least.
The Minnesota Twins entered the season with very little optimism. Much like they did towards the end of the season last year, it appeared that the Twins would be starting the season with what would equate to the Kansas City Royals’ double-A starting lineup. Sure, they have Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, and even Josh Willingham, who hit a whopping 35 long balls and knocked in 110 RBI last year. But the Twins have made some questionable trades this past offseason, including giving away top outfielders Ben Revere and Denard Span for a handful of prospects. Last year, the Twins pitching staff posted 4.47 team ERA, and the pitching acquisitions during the offseason didn’t seem to be too promising. In fact, it looked as though last year’s 66 win team had gotten worse.
But the unfortunate Twins are actually looking pretty good this year.
Surprisingly enough, the pitching has been solid, and hitting has been consistent. Mr. Consistency, Joe Mauer, has been on a tear this year from the second spot in the lineup, including back-to-back 4-4 games against the Angels only a couple weeks ago. Veterans Morneau, Willingham, Trevor Plouffe and Ryan Doumit have all been doing very well offensively while setting the scene for youngsters like Brian Dozier, Pedro Florimon, Eduardo Escobar and Chris Parmelee to emerge. The majority of these guys haven’t hit all that well for average but have provided extra base hits, plenty of walks and protection for the front of the lineup. Dozier, having recently moved to the leadoff spot in the past week, has seen his offensive production increase while showing a great glove in the field.
The key for the Twins, however, has been and will continue to be their pitching.
The best addition so far appears to have been Kevin Correia, who is posting a 2.23 ERA while logging 36.1 innings pitched to this point. He has been eating innings, battling the league’s top hitters, and looking like an ace that the Twins have so desperately needed for so long.
The bullpen has been stellar with Glen Perkins taking up closing duties once again. The true gem there has been Anthony Swarzak, who has eaten up some innings and taken pressure off the remainder of the bullpen in some games.
By no means is this a statement saying the Twins will make it to the playoffs. The American League Central is a weak yet developing division that has offensive powerhouses in the Tigers and Royals.
The Twins, however, have a legitimate shot to be .500 because of their big three in the middle of the lineup as well as young hitting and role players that look very promising. The pitching staff will need to shoulder much of the burden but has proved they can handle it up to this point.
They may not be playoff bound yet, but the hometown Twins have a real chance to be a Cinderella this year.