The Minnesota Twins have the worst record of any Major League Baseball division leader at 69-65. They obviously benefit from playing in the American League Central, as four AL Wild Card contenders have a better record.
We so often hear about Minnesota’s amazing record of 18 consecutive playoff losses. The Twins also just lost two straight games to the second-place Cleveland Guardians.
However, there are indeed reasons to be optimistic about how this year’s Twins can sew up their first American League Central title in three years and actually win a postseason game or two as the franchise looks to an even brighter future.
Why You Can Feel Good About Minnesota Twins Baseball: 15 Items To Stir Hope
- The Minnesota offense surged in August. The Twins’ .800 OPS and .461 SLG in 19 games was their best month-long marks of the season and showed that the lineup is hitting its stride at the most important time of the year.
- Entering play on Aug. 30, Minnesota’s 72 home runs since the All-Star break were the second-most among all Major League teams. Their 187 total home runs rank fourth in the American League and sixth in MLB.
- Overall, the Twins have spent 144 days in first place in the American League Central. They have only spent 10 days in second place and none below that, so the division clearly belongs to them.
- The starting pitching has gone from worst in the American League in Quality Starts (35) last season to leading the Majors with 66 in 2023. The starting staff also went from 20th to first in MLB in Average Game Score for starting pitchers, from 51 to 55.
- From June 21 to Aug. 30, the Twins won 19 of their 29 home games. They have nine home games remaining against the New York Mets, Los Angeles Angels, and Oakland Athletics. New York and Oakland are last-place teams (the A’s have the worst record in baseball), and Los Angeles is next to last in the NL West so that part of the schedule will help the Twins wrap up their division as they seek momentum heading into the postseason. (Bet on baseball daily with our MLB odds.)
- Sonny Gray has been an underrated standout and the true ace of the Minnesota starting pitching staff. His 2.92 ERA ranks third in the Majors, and his six home runs allowed are easily the least surrendered by any starter with a minimum of 150 innings pitched. Gray’s .321 opposing SLG allowed through his first 26 starts ranked third among MLB starters.
- Pablo Lopez ranks third in the Majors with 196 strikeouts and eighth in the AL with a 1.16 WHIP. Prior to his last start on Aug. 23, Kenta Maeda had allowed three or fewer runs in 10 consecutive starts, the second-longest active streak in the AL.
- In the 31 games leading up to Aug. 30, Royce Lewis hit .354 with a .987 OPS and 22 RBI, and he had homered in three straight games up to that date with nine RBI. Now healthy — which has been an issue for the 24-year-old over the past two seasons — Lewis is seemingly starting to live up to his status as a former No. 1 overall draft pick just in time for the postseason push.
- Michael A. Taylor is a 10th-year man who was acquired for outfield depth in the offseason. He has exceeded expectations, hitting a career-high 20 home runs, with eight in August, his best-ever in a month. Known for consistent quality defense, Taylor has made a case to stay in the lineup regularly and is an important player for the rest of the regular season and playoffs.
- Donovan Solano has been another projected depth guy who has stepped up admirably due to injuries and is the type of “glue” player, along with Taylor, who has performed better than projected. Such “role” performers can boost a team’s fortunes as timely contributors. Another 10th-year veteran, Solano hit .368 with a .407 OBP in August, mainly as a fill-in at first base for the injured Alex Kirilloff (shoulder).
- Max Kepler was coming off another disappointing season and was hitting .214 with a .701 OPS as of July 17. In his next 37 games, Kepler hit .331 with nine home runs, 20 RBI, and a 1.039 OPS. The 30-year-old has recaptured some of his better form lately to raise his batting average 38 points and the season OPS to .807.
- The bullpen has been a source of concern. Still, it is the fourth-hardest throwing group of relievers in the American League, and it had allowed the fewest hits of any MLB pen (385) entering play on Aug. 30. Hopefully, such indicators can lead to more consistency very soon.
- Overall, Carlos Correa has been a disappointment after returning to the Twins amid offseason transaction controversy, but he may be able to deliver better results in September and October, as he is a .282 career hitter with a .805 OPS and .463 SLG in those months.
- Ryan Jeffers has emerged as the No. 1 option at catcher. From June 15 to Aug. 30, Jeffers hit .312 with seven home runs, 21 RBI, and a .926 OPS in 38 games.
- Oft-injured but essential performers Byron Buxton (hamstring) and Kirilloff are on the verge of returning from injuries at a crucial point of the year. Joe Ryan also looked good in his return from a groin injury on Aug. 26, allowing one run with seven strikeouts in five innings pitched.