Baseball is Back? Where Does that Leave the Twins?
Image courtesy of © Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY SportsFor some time, I’ve tried to wrap my head around what the 2020 schedule may look like given its fractured state. If teams aren’t going to go through a temporary division realignment, how will there be a level playing field in regard to common foes. Will games be rescheduled or shuffled around, and how do you traverse the logistical nightmare that would present?
The most straightforward avenue to all of these questions is to simply suggest, play it out. Beginning July 1st, play the schedule through as it stands. Include an extra team or two in the postseason if you wish but keep the opponents and locations exactly as they are. We have a blueprint for that, and that’s where this discussion begins.
On July 1st, the Twins would be slated to take part in Opening Day at Comerica in Detroit. It would be the first of 11 games with the Tigers, and count as one of 46 total games against the AL Central Division. From that day forward there are exactly 76 games scheduled, and a 61% clip against divisional foes would not be an unwelcome reality for Minnesota.
Within the division Minnesota has another 13 games scheduled with both Cleveland and Kansas City, while having to face the White Sox just nine times. Only 10 games are scheduled against teams outside of the Central that made the postseason in 2019, and all five of the games against the Dodgers (2) and Astros (3) would be played at Target Field.
Traditionally a difficult matchup for the Twins, AL East teams are seen only on three separate occasions. Minnesota would not reap the benefit of facing the Orioles, but they also would avoid the Yankees altogether. Seven games would be split between a Mookie-less Boston (4) and Tampa Bay (3) on the road, while the Blue Jays travel to Target Field for a four-game set.
Although it’s not quite a 50/50 split, the Twins are looking at being the road team in 40 of the 76 contests. Last season they owned a strong .568 winning percentage at the home yard, but they generated a ridiculous .679 winning percentage on the road. I think it’s safe to say that given the talent of this team, they’ll likely be in a strong position to compete on a nightly basis.
Now, there are two outliers that I think could factor into any 2020 schedule with these established parameters. One, July 4 makes substantially more sense for Opening Day than July 1st does. Capitalize on the patriotism towards our great country and realize there’s nothing more American than baseball and apple pie. Two, stretch the currently laid out schedule to incorporate at least five more games, creating an 81-effort affair. The former seems incredibly doable, and the latter to a certain extent as well.
Major League Baseball has noted that teams will likely have expanded rosters this season, and the inclusion of doubleheaders will also become somewhat of a regular occurrence. Needing to add just five games, playing two on that few occasions seems simple. Should baseball push for something closer to a 100-game season, they’d need to add doubleheaders (or remove off days) on roughly 30% of the currently scheduled action.
It’s also safe to assume that minor league baseball won’t be what we have traditionally seen. Having guys play in some sort of spring training back-field league makes a good deal of sense. Housing players at the complex, still getting in important development time, and having players ready to be called upon seem like benchmarks worth striving for.
We’re still in the infancy of this all coming to fruition, but things appear to be trending in a positive direction. Following Plouffe’s initial report Jeff Passan noted that MLB is finalizing a proposal for MLBPA to review and agree upon. That would act as one of the last obstacles to overcome and should then lead quickly to the announcement of “Play Ball!”
Initially feeling apprehensive about one of the best Twins teams in history being wasted on a goofy year, the blueprint laid out for what may be ahead is worth salivating about. The sport returns, the schedule remains soft, and close to 100% health for baseball’s beloved Bomba Squad could foster the most talked about World Series title in the history of the sport.
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