Reflection Provides Solace for 2019 Minnesota Twins
Image courtesy of © Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY SportsRocco Baldelli took over a Twins team that had little direction, and even less certainty. Moving on from Paul Molitor and creating an infrastructure geared towards sustainable progression the Minnesota front office had set forth to blaze a new trail. Not only were we treated to a record-breaking performance, but it was done with a core that remains intact and reinforcements soon to follow.
For much of the last offseason we heard about a timid approach reliant on the emergence of Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton. Both had strong 2019 campaigns (for Buxton, while he was on the field), but it was the unexpected development of players like Luis Arraez and Zack Littell that defined the growth we saw on the field. Process and practice have fostered a team that will allow the expected to rise, but the unexpected to also seize opportunity.
2019 was significantly more than a record -etting home run total, a win total mirroring that of the mid-1960’s, or even an American League Central Division title. It was a season that provides a launching point into the future and gives us a glimpse of what is not only possible, but what is yet to come. Although the bar has been raised across much of the record book, the result is now a future more hopeful than it has been since Torii Hunter was chasing down baseballs at the Metrodome.
I’m not here to tell you that losing in the postseason isn’t a bummer, or that dropping a series to the New York Yankees doesn’t stink. Reality hits us in clarifying that only one team ends their season with a victory however, and that being in the final pool for that annual opportunity is a must. Terry Ryan was not able to position the Pohlad’s team for that scenario at the end of his tenure in Twins Territory. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have hit nearly as many bombas as their on-field product, and now should begin a stretch of yearly October baseball.
There will be time to discuss the size of a blank check Gerrit Cole may eventually turn down, and whether Nelson Cruz repeats his 2019 performance as a 40-year-old. There can be a moment of frustration hurled at the Yankees, and unfortunate history can even receive its run. Looking back, and beyond the final three games, it’s hard to be anything but excitedly hopeful for what is yet to come.
The Minnesota Twins didn’t provide us with a “there’s always next year” type of theme in their exit. Instead we are faced with a “look out” and “we’ll be back.” It won’t be uncommon to see the team that calls Target Field home assumed as the division favorite next March, and they’ll get another shot at rolling the dice in October.
A sport that celebrates failure occurring only 70% of the time is quite a difficult beast, and humility can often be dished out in small sample sizes., but this was a season of excitement for what is yet to come. To Derek, Thad, Rocco, and the 50 guys that put that Twins script across their chest this season, thank you for months of enjoyment. Soak up the well-deserved rest, and we’ll all still be waiting for the next October opportunity to get unhinged in downtown Minneapolis. We all know it won’t be long.
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