by MIKE MAREK
I spent last weekend refamiliarizing myself with a set of old friends, the Minnesota Twins. As I watched them systematically dismantle the Seattle Mariners over the course of four games, a thought struck me. I had never seen the Twins play this well before in my entire life.
They were slamming the ball out of the park, they played terrific defense, and their pitching looked top-end. At no point in my 34 years had I ever seen the Twins put together a team quite like this before. They have had World Series teams in 1987 and 1991 that ended up getting the job done, but neither championship team was truly dominant in the regular season. This year’s rendition of the Twins has the tools to dominate during the regular and postseason.
What I witnessed last weekend was what modern championship baseball looks like. This type of baseball the Twins are playing is built on metrics, speed, and power. The Twins employed defensive shifts to increase their opportunities to record outs while forcing hitters to do something with which they are not comfortable. They backed this up with blazing speed in the outfield to steal more than one ball that easily could have ended in a hit. The Twins have also been on a power surge that appears may stretch for the whole season.
Through 46 games they are on pace to hit 306 homeruns this year. This would be a Twins team record and a Major League Baseball record for most homeruns in a season. They are almost averaging two homeruns per game. To put this in perspective, the Twins have already hit more homeruns in 2019 (87) than they did in the entire 1976 and 1978 seasons.
Homeruns by themselves don’t guarantee success. Many a Major League Baseball team has hit a lot of homeruns in a year and amounted to nothing in the final standings. What makes this Twins team special is its combination of speed, pitching, power, and defense. With all of these facets combined, the Twins have set themselves to not only win the AL Central, but to make a serious run at the best record in baseball and take a deep run into the postseason.
Gone are the days of hoping and praying for a timely hit so the Twins could eek out a one-run victory. The Twins have evolved from Gardy’s Piranhas to become Rocco’s Great White Sharks. They are a team that no one wants to see looming on their schedule, and best of all they are a likeable bunch.
This team seems to have the chemistry that it takes to meld together over a 162-game season. They genuinely get along with one another as players, and they have proven to be a group of fan favorites, as well. This very well could become the summer of the Twins, and in the Minnesota sports world, they are making Vikings fans move over for a bit and forget about football season for a while as they watch the Twins make their run for greatness.