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Front Page: 6 Reasons Why the Twins Will Win the AL Central

minnesota twins nelson cruz marwin gonzalez rocco baldelli
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#1 Ted Schwerzler

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Posted 20 August 2019 - 08:00 PM

We’ve got less than six full weeks left in the 2019 Major League Baseball regular season. The Minnesota Twins are looking for their first AL Central Division title since 2010, and despite having an 11.5 game lead midway through the year, they’re facing an intense race to the finish. Have no fear though, this club is going to win the division, and there’re more than a few key reasons why.1. It's Building Not Chasing

Let’s start with the basics. Minnesota isn’t coming back from anything. Sure, the lead was once 11.5 games, but the current lead doesn’t have “games back” tied to it. Rocco Baldelli’s club owns a two-game (three now, after Tuesday's action) lead over the Cleveland Indians, and that cushion still provides significant value. Minnesota and Cleveland meet six more times in September, and those matchups will obviously have the greatest direct impact on the standings.

2. Sota Pop is Alive and Well

The Twins still own one of the best offenses in baseball, and the direct competition isn’t particularly close. It was great that Carlos Santana launched a grand slam for the Indians, and Puig has hit well since coming over from Cincinnati, but the Twins have a lineup that just keeps coming. Still fourth in the majors in terms of fWAR, and pacing the field with the long ball, Minnesota’s lineup is relentless, 1-through-9. Miguel Sano has been arguably the clubs best hitter for a few weeks, Nelson Cruz is a man possessed, and hot streaks by players like Marwin Gonzalez and Jake Cave continue to supplement things nicely.

3. The Bump is Bruised Not Broken

Pitching isn’t the black hole it’s viewed as. Jose Berrios is certainly not right, and Martin Perez hasn’t been the same guy he was early in the year. Looking across the sport as a whole however, there’re warts on every team. Minnesota is still a top five staff in baseball (one off the Indians) and the 4.15 team ERA checks in eighth. The bullpen has gotten better with additions of Sam Dyson and Sergio Romo, while the emergence of Zack Littell, Lewis Thorpe, and Devin Smeltzer has been invaluable.

4. Next Man Up Still Works

Reinforcements are coming from within. Roster expansion comes in 12 days and the Twins have a handful of intriguing options. This is the last year that the active roster expands to 40 and the big-league club could take full advantage of it. The 40-man roster has just one opening, likely for Brusdar Graterol, but there’re a few current 40- man options that make sense. Nick Gordon could be sprinkled in as he’ll compete for a job in 2020, and Willians Astudillo will return. LaMonte Wade could get the run he’s missed out on, and the whole taxi squad of arms could be rewarded for their service. None of these guys should be expected to shoulder a huge load, but they can provide rest for starters down the stretch and play in some of the most meaningful games of their careers.

5. Rainbows and Butterflies on the Calendar

The schedule is cake and Minnesota gobbles that up. The rest of the way Minnesota’s opponents have a combined .457 winning percentage. Houston’s is the next closest at .476 and the Indians are third at .481. Baldelli has seen his squad do a good job against tough competition this season, but no one has played better baseball against bad opponents than the Twins. At 50-17 against sub-.500 teams the team has ripped off wins nearly 75% of the time. The next 12 games all come against the White Sox and the Tigers, while the final 13 come against the three worst teams in the division. You can’t dictate who you play, but Minnesota is set up nicely to be the favorite much of the time they take the field the rest of the way.

6. Veteran Presence Carries Weight

Despite a core of homegrown talent Minnesota has the veteran presence needed to keep the clubhouse focused. Nelson Cruz and Marwin Gonzalez have obviously had an impact on their teammates all year. The two of them combined have played over 70 postseason games with three World Series appearances and a ring. They know what it takes to win on the biggest stage, and they aren’t just here for motivational support. Minnesota signed both players to be contributors and they have certainly led by example. These two will be integral in finishing the job during the final month and using that momentum to make a mark in October.

There’s no denying that the torrid early-season pace has slowed, and the post-All Star break slate was tough. Minnesota persevered though and while their lead shrunk, they’ve built it back up. Expecting the gap to grow and maybe push five or six games by the end of the month is a pretty fair bet. The AL Central remains up for grabs, but there’s plenty of reason to believe the Twins have the pennant well within their grasp.

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#2 highlander

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Posted 20 August 2019 - 10:46 PM

Defense is a sore spot that gives away too many runs.
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#3 Dome Dogg

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Posted 21 August 2019 - 06:34 AM

Winning the pennant would mean winning the American League, not the Central. 

"Kid, don't you think there's a problem when you get that excited over a seeing-eye single?"


#4 Sjoski

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Posted 21 August 2019 - 06:57 AM

The Twins feast on 3-5 starters...so the central is most likely theirs...How the bats fair against premium starters is another question. This team isn't built for a deep playoff run...but let enjoy a great season.

#5 Number3

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Posted 21 August 2019 - 07:38 AM

The 9 September games, 6 against Cleveland and the 3 against the Nationals, will probably decide it. Twins must continue to win series against rest of Central schedule, starting with today against White Sox, and do no worse than 4-5 in those 9 Sep games. If they accomplish that the Central should be theirs. Barring more injuries and if Byron Buxton (productive version) returns, Twins can be competitive against other playoff teams but winning long series against Houston, Yankees, or (remote chance) Dodgers will be very difficult. BTW, those 9 Sep games will be effective playoff games. Cleveland speaks for itself and the Nats are in their own battle for a WC or even NL East.

Step 1...beat Chicago today and pull for the Mets.

Edited by Number3, 21 August 2019 - 07:42 AM.


#6 railmarshalljon

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Posted 21 August 2019 - 08:55 AM

I've got a feeling once September 1 comes around we're gonna have a bullpen as packed as FDR's court. Staring pitcher starts to see a little trouble in the fourth inning? I've got 13 options to throw out there. And 3 were starting in Triple A as of a couple of weeks ago so they're pretty stretched out.

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You can't change the past, but you can still ruin your future.


#7 Channing1964

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Posted 21 August 2019 - 11:58 AM

True That!! it was alarming to see Cleveland play so well for so long but fact is there are some really good players over there too. Like I've said all along, Cleveland doesnt have the heart to sustain that level of play. Winning 2 of every 3 games from here out gives us 100 wins and maybe, just maybe a #2 seed. Keep it up Rocco!!! At what point do we say... we'd rather play the Astros with home field advantage? That time is NOW!.

#8 puckstopper1

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Posted 21 August 2019 - 01:19 PM

sorry, Ted, but I'm not in agreement.Here is why.

 

1) Starting and overall pitching. Yes - the Twins are 8th overall in MLB in ERA. BUT, Cleveland is 3rd. Also, 4 of the 5 Twins regular starters are trending downward (sans Pineada). This combined with the fact that the Indians should get Kluber back soon and also might get Carassco back gives the Indians a significant advantage on the bump IMO.

 

2) Team defense.Cleveland ranks 11th overall in MLB in FPCT, and the Twins rank a putrid 24th.ICK! The Indians are also 6th in DER, while the Twins are 20th.

 

3) After tomorrow the schedules will be more comparable.The Twins may have a slight advantage, but only because they are "stronger" record wise than the Indians - and they play each other 6 times.

 

I would like to be more optimist, but I've been a Minnesota sports fan for WWWAAAAAYYYYYY too long.

That Twins 2nd baseman - #29 - he doesn't run, he "ca-rew-zes" - Earl Weaver


#9 DocBauer

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Posted 21 August 2019 - 07:54 PM

How about, despite a lack of imperfection, that all teams have, they are still one of the best teams in all of MLB?
"Nice catch Hayes...don't ever f*****g do it again."

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