How Do the Twins Fare in a 60 Game Season?
Image courtesy of © Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY SportsEver since Major League Baseball was halted on March 12, we could have surmised that whatever season took place in 2020 would be drastically different. Despite their being an initial desire to still get all 162 games in, that never seemed like a logical ask. Now that we are months separated from the original start date, it’s about fitting in as much as realistically possible.
Continuing to claim vast financial losses, owners are looking for ways to shed financial commitments. By playing a shorter season, and one of substantial measures, prorated salaries are significantly diminished. Initially suggested to be at the 50-game mark, which is permissible under rule of the Commissioner, reality would lean towards a schedule closer to 60 or 70 games. Being at 82 games when discussions began, that would seem like a total that owners would come in shy of. So, if the season is just 60 games long, what can we learn from the 2019 Twins that may translate to 2020?
Baseball being the marathon it is during a traditional year; 60 games is going to produce an incredibly small sample size. Luis Arraez owned a .346 batting average through that many contests a year ago, and eventual American League title winner Tim Anderson finished with a .335 mark. Minnesota was 40-20 at the 60-game mark in 2019, and that came with a 9.5 game lead over the Cleveland Indians. The Chicago White Sox had a losing record through their first 60 games, and Cleveland sat exactly at .500.
Knowing this type of schedule would be a sprint, there’s a level of comfort in seeing Minnesota start and end strong last season. Their first 50 games produced a 34-16 record while the final 50 were played to the tune of a 31-19 mark. The toughest part about a condensed schedule is that there’s little time for normalcy to establish itself. The Washington Nationals were 19-31 at one point during 2019 and went on to win the World Series. Rocco Baldelli needs the Twins to jump on the division from the get-go and not look back.
Assuming a reshuffling of the opponents is also a logical bet. With expanded playoffs and a desire to keep travel more regionally focused, the Twins could be in for a four-way split of their AL Central Division foes. Playing the Indians and White Sox well, and then getting a substantial helping of both the Tigers and Royals is nothing short of favorable. Last year Minnesota went a combined 28-10 against Kansas City and Detroit, so padding any overall total with those two should be looked at as a big plus.
There are so many questions that remain in terms of logistics, but there should be some assumed certainties we’re already dealing with. A shortened season does not help a favorite’s chances, but Minnesota having the best roster in the Division is an absolute benefit. There isn’t time for slow starts, and we don’t know what reinforcements (either by promotion or trade) will look like.
Everyone is chomping at the bit for baseball, and when it resumes each club will need to be shot out of the gate like a horse at the Kentucky Derby. It’s going to be a baseball season like none other, and while it will always be difficult to hold in comparison among the rest of the yearly accomplishments, this outlier should be one we remember for quite some time.
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