clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Playoff results in the AL Central over the past 25 years: Would you rather...?

New, comments

The Twins have been one of the most successful teams in the AL Central as far as division championships go, but not necessarily in overall playoff success. How much does it matter to you?

Detroit Tigers v Minnesota Twins
Joe Mauer won four AL Central Championships and one MVP award with the Twins, but no World Series titles. Is he just a loser?
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Yesterday on the official Twinkie Town twitter account I tweeted out about how it was 25 years to the day the Twins won the ALCS. My tweet prompted the following response:

Now, as anyone who mildly knows anything about me would expect, I responded that those “awful and mediocre” Twins actually won six division titles between 2000-2010. This prompted a lengthy but polite exchange about what defines “success” for a baseball team. The Twins have won more AL Central Division Championships than any other team in the past 15 years, but every other team in the division has won more playoff serieses than the Twins in that same amount of time. Hence, according to this fan, the Twins have actually been the least successful team in the AL Central.

It turned out this fan is only 24 years old, so he has never been alive during a Twins World Series appearance, let alone a Twins World Series Championship. I found it interesting how his frame of reference colored his attitude about the team, and it made a little bit more sense to me why he felt like he did.

A little.

But looking back at the past 25 years, are the Twins really the least successful team in the AL Central? Let’s take a closer look at some of the numbers.

Cleveland Indians 1991-2016

World Championships: 0 (Tied for 4th)

World Series Appearances: 2 (tied for 1st)

Playoff Series Wins: 7 (1st)

Division Championships: 8 (1st)

Playoff Appearances: 9 (1st)

MVP and Cy Young Awards: 3 (tied for 3rd)

By simply ranking playoff results, the Cleveland Indians look like the most successful team in the AL Central Division over the past 25 years. That is, except for that one big, glaring hole: They haven’t actually won a World Series Championship.

The last time the Indians won it all was in 1948—by far the longest drought among the current AL Central teams. So can we actually call the Indians the most successful team in the AL Central Division?

Detroit Tigers 1991-2016

World Championships: 0 (tied for 4th)

World Series Appearances: 2 (tied for 1st)

Playoff Series Wins: 6 (2nd)

Division Championships: 4 (tied for 3rd)

Playoff Appearances: 5 (3rd)

MVP and Cy Young Awards: 5 (1st)

Because of recent history, it might seem like the Tigers have been really successful in the AL Central. Upon closer look, however, and when spreading the time frame out over 25 years, the Tigers don’t look nearly so great. I mean, anyone remember 2003? Woof.

The Tigers last won the World Series in 1984, so compared to the Indians, it hasn’t been that long. And when the Tigers have made it to the playoffs, they have tended to be successful—just not ultimately successful. So does that mean it’s all for naught?

Chicago White Sox 1991-2016

World Championships: 1 (tied for 1st)

World Series Appearances: 1 (tied for 4th)

Playoff Series Wins: 3 (tied for 4th)

Division Championships: 4 (tied for 3rd)

Playoff Appearances: 4 (4th)

MVP and Cy Young Awards: 3 (tied for 3rd)

The White Sox were hot, Hot, HOT in 2005, winning the most games in baseball and the World Series for the first time in 88 years. Other than that, though? The Sox haven’t actually done too much. Sort of strange when you think about how often it seemed like Ozzie Guillen and his White Sox were giving the Twins a run for their money. Maybe Guillen’s excessive swearing made it seem closer than it was.

Kansas City Royals 1991-2016

World Championships: 1 (tied for 1st)

World Series Appearances: 2 (tied for 1st)

Playoff Series Wins: 5 (3rd)

Division Championships: 1 (5th)

Playoff Appearances: 2 (5th)

MVP and Cy Young Awards: 1 (5th)

The Royals have probably been the least successful team in the AL Central over the past 25 years. Hell, they’ve only ever won the division once, EVER, and that was last year. The Royals have been the bottom feeders of the division for most of its history. (Note to our younger and/or less informed readers: The AL Central Division has only existed since 1995.)

However, the Royals have made two World Series appearances in the past quarter century, which is one more than the Twins. They’ve also won the World Series as many times as the Twins over that period (once), and had more overall playoff series wins. So does it matter the Royals have only won the division once?

Minnesota Twins 1991-2016

World Championships: 1 (tied for 1st)

World Series Appearances: 1 (tied for 4th)

Playoff Series Wins: 3 (tied for 4th)

Division Championships: 7 (2nd)

Playoff Appearances: 7 (2nd)

MVP and Cy Young Awards: 4 (2nd)

The Twins are tied with the White Sox and Royals for World Series Championships in the past 25 years (each have one), and have the second most Division Championships, trailing only the World Series-less Indians. The Twins have been both pretty consistently good and overall successful.

The problem is, as mentioned, that despite all those playoff appearances, the Twins are tied for last among their division rivals in actual playoff series wins. They won the ALCS in 1991, the World Series in 1991, and the ALDS in 2002—and that’s it. In the same amount of time they have lost five playoff series-es, which has been a huge sticking point among fans, especially younger ones. Does that fact mean the Twins have actually been less successful then their divisional peers?


In my opinion? The Twins are one of, if not the, most successful team in the AL Central in the past 25 years. Maybe my opinion is skewed by having been alive and aware during the 1991 World Series, but even that fact doesn’t mean the Twins haven’t won a lot of divisional championships and individual awards. Claiming the Twins have been no better than mediocre since 1991, in my opinion, is just flat out wrong and short-sighted.

But what do you think? Where to the Twins rank among the five AL Central Division teams over the past 25 years? Which team do you think has been the most successful? Which team do you feel like has been the most successful? And, as a Twins fan, would you rather trade places with another AL Central team?

What, ultimately, defines baseball success to you?

Please discuss.