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The 2019 Twins and Why Being In The Middle Isn't A Bad Thing

Posted by Tyler Austin's Biceps , 03 January 2019 · 691 views

A profound philosopher once proclaimed that “it just takes some time” and that while you might be “in the middle of the ride”, “everything, everything will be just fine.” “Jimmy Eat World lyrics? That isn’t philosophical.” Well, when I’ve been drinking a little on Friday nights, it starts to sound like Socrates to me so lay off of it. The name of that song is “The Middle”, a little diddy you may have heard of, and it was the inspiration for this article about where the Twins happen to find themselves in MLB’s landscape.

The Twins are of course quite a bit better than the trifecta of teams underneath them who have no interest in winning games but are still a fair bit worse than the Indians even if you squint really hard. The Indians also apparently are not very interested in winning more games considering the moves they have made this off-season and the fact that Jordan Luplow is currently one of their starting outfielders. Did I make that name up? Honestly, I checked Fangraphs and I’m still not convinced he’s a real player. But until there is a trade of either Trevor Bauer or Corey Kluber, the Indians will remain favorites for winning the AL Central again which leaves the Twins in the middle.

The Wild Card remains an opportunity but considering the Balrog that is the AL East along with a few strong contenders in the West like the Angels and the Athletics, that path may actually be harder than winning the division for Minnesota in 2019. Regression is prime for both the Athletics and the Rays, the former potentially following in the footsteps of Minnesota as the “performed better than everyone thought only to get moped up by the Yankees in a Wild Card game and then fall off the next year” team. But many things will have to go right for Minnesota to see the playoffs again. Is this a bad place to be in? I don’t think so.

Every year it seems that the MLB season is as much of a battle of quality players as it is a war of attrition, it comes as no surprise that the teams which make the playoffs are usually teams that avoided major injuries and were able to get consistent production from their major players. While betting on specific injuries and regression is not a good idea, betting on general injuries and regression among the contending teams is not necessarily a bad play. Just look at the 2018 Twins, who would have thought that Brian Dozier would forget how to hit a fastball, Jorge Polanco would get caught with too much O.J., Ervin Santana would lose a finger in the war, Jason Castro would bump knees with Teddy Bridgewater, Byron Buxton would be kidnapped at sporadic parts of the season, Miguel Sano having a metal rod shoved into his leg would be the 4th worst thing to happen to him that year, Logan Morrison would turn into a baked potato, and Lance Lynn would try to eat that potato.

The point is, there sits a bevy of teams who are perfect candidates for smiting by the baseball gods and if the Twins just outlast those teams in 2019, they could make the playoffs in a similar fashion to the 2017 team that was able to coast to a surprise Wild Card spot. The 2018 Oakland team saw this happen also when the Mariners fell off as they always do and when the Angels partnered with the local sports hospitals of the greater Anaheim area like they also always do. Once they were out of the way, the only other competition was a Rays team which was the sports equivalent of a Monty Python sketch.

After the addition of a boomstick, the 2019 Twins project by Fangraphs to be the 13th best team in baseball by fWAR at 36, .9 ahead of the 15th team (the A’s ironically) who are at 35.1, 2018 Josh Bell is the difference between them. The current free agents left are fairly uninspiring and will probably not make up enough of a difference to launch them into the upper echelon of teams. The farm system, while very very tasty, is probably a year away from having the major prospects grace the major league team. So the plan should be to put together a solid squad in 2018 which includes a reliever addition or two and then hope that things happen to fall in place to allow the 2019 team reach the playoffs while the prospects continue to develop and then hopefully cultivate in a 2020 team ready to take down the champ.

  • nicksaviking and nclahammer like this



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theBOMisthebomb
Jan 04 2019 09:02 AM
Being a fan of Minnesota men's professional sports teams is the worst - our teams are seemingly always stuck in the middle (or worse). Yeah, the Vikings might pop up and then disappoint in crunch time. The Wild and Timberwolves are constant disappointments. Our Twins haven't been relevant since before I had internet in my home. Anyway, being stuck in the middle is the worst - I present the Gardy years to you as evidence. No legitimate chance to actually win the World Series yet competitive enough to give the hometown fans a glimmer of hope only to be crushed with disappointment. The 2019 Twins have POTENTIAL yet nobody really truly believes they can make a deep playoff run. Let the 10 year rebuilding effort continue.
    • Danchat and mikelink45 like this

The middle is the place for the proverbial half full/half empty decision.Personally I think it stinks.In our division wild card is not an option at this stage.Since 2010 we have finished 5/5/4/5/2/5/2/2 - how is that for middle?Games behind - in our division: 32/22/27/20/12/35/17/13 - no wild card hopes there.  

 

The dreary sense of being in suspended animation is in the middle.Unless you are on your way up and this is a temporary step towards the future greatness it means lower draft numbers, selling off your assets, dreaming of the big FA, projecting your prospects to be superstars.

 

The end of the 1990s we had 8 years of 4/5 finishes.This team has had bursts of success and in fact are much better than all but the Lynx among our professional teams.The Twins and the Lynx are the only ones to win championships unless we go back to the original dynasty - the Minneapolis Lakers.

 

I can handle a couple years in the middle, but to see that as a positive is not in me.

Great contribution, and excellent user name.

 

I think I've embraced the "middle" this year, with the caveat that I see it as a very much 'half-full' middle that promises plenty of upside coupled with much lower expectations than I had last year--expectations that were so cruelly dashed.

 

I envision a low-stress season full of pleasant surprises.

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Tom Froemming
Jan 04 2019 01:25 PM

I put a bit more air between your paragraphs to make this a little easier on the eyes, hope you don't mind.

 

My enthusiasm for 2019 keeps teetering between "I wish they would go for it, the division is there for the taking" and "my God there are some terrible AL teams, at least the Twins have some hope." It could be better, but it could be a LOT worse.

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Tyler Austin's Biceps
Jan 04 2019 01:31 PM

 

I put a bit more air between your paragraphs to make this a little easier on the eyes, hope you don't mind.

 

My enthusiasm for 2019 keeps teetering between "I wish they would go for it, the division is there for the taking" and "my God there are some terrible AL teams, at least the Twins have some hope." It could be better, but it could be a LOT worse.

Thanks for the help Tom! Yeah, I'm with you as far as the opportunity with awful teams in the AL, but I still think it's just a little too early to take the plunge and go all in. I think that will happen next off-season or possibly this trade deadline if the season goes well enough. 

    • LA VIkes Fan likes this

 

Thanks for the help Tom! Yeah, I'm with you as far as the opportunity with awful teams in the AL, but I still think it's just a little too early to take the plunge and go all in. I think that will happen next off-season or possibly this trade deadline if the season goes well enough. 

It is never too early.Do not wait for the Indians to retool, go now.

 

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tarheeltwinsfan
Jan 05 2019 06:18 AM

Just about a year ago, I set out on the road, seekin' my fame and fortune, lookin' for a pot of gold. Things got bad and things got worse. I guess you know the tune. Oh Lord, I'm stuck in Lodi again.

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tarheeltwinsfan
Jan 05 2019 06:25 AM

I really prefer the following tune: "We are the champions my friend. We'll keep on fighting till the end. No time for losers. Cause we are the champions".