The Minnesota Twins Are 2019 AL Central Champs
Image courtesy of David Berding, USA TodayOn October 6th, 2010, a 29-year-old Rocco Baldelli went 0-for-3 against Texas as DH for the Rays in Game 1 of the ALDS. This is noteworthy both because they were the final at-bats of Baldelli's major-league career, and also because – about 1,000 miles north of Tampa on that same day – the Twins were opening a series against the Yankees.
Of course, Minnesota was swept by New York (again). And they haven't won the AL Central or returned to the ALDS since. That is to say, they hadn't. Until now.
Nine years later, Baldelli is rookie manager for the upstart club that ended Cleveland's division dynasty and shocked the baseball world. His team's 52nd road win of the year in Detroit (!), combined with a Cleveland loss to the White Sox, shaved the Magic Number down to zero.
Not so long ago, Minnesota was a league-wide punchline when it came to power hitting and power pitching. But here in the instantly legendary year of 2019, they have broken the franchise record for strikeouts and the major-league record for home runs. And in the process they've restored their long-forfeited status among MLB's premier class.
Baldelli coming in as a 37-year-old with zero managerial experience, and overseeing one of the best finishes in Twins history (with a division clinch on his BIRTHDAY, no less) is an amazing story easily lost in the shuffle of a season absolutely brimming with them.
And it's not over. With 98 wins in the books, this is already the second-winningest team in Twins history and they have four games left to match the record of 102 from 1965. Then, it's time to bring one of the most powerful and imposing lineups in MLB history into New York, as clear yet capable underdogs. Their first-round foes will be all too familiar, but this Minnesota squad is not. With power throughout the lineup and a deep, daunting bullpen, the Twins are not to be discounted.
You know we'll be covering it all exhaustively from every angle at Twins Daily. For the first time in this site's history, the Minnesota Twins are preparing for a postseason series. We can't wait to share the journey with all of you.
But for now, soak it in. Pour a glass of champagne. After nearly a decade in the dumps, the Twins have retaken the American League Central.
- Parker Hageman, Steve Lein, drbob524 and 14 others like this