We’re one week into the baseball season and the Minnesota Twins are 5-1, first in the AL Central, and have the best record in the American League. For a team that started last season 0-9, this all seems pretty insane. I wrote about some of the reasons behind the Twins’ hot start yesterday, but I didn’t exactly answer the question on everyone’s mind: Can the Twins keep this up?
The answer is no, they can’t.
I’m not just trying to be a Debbie Downer here. There are many sound, logical reasons why the Twins can’t keep this up. Let’s take a look at them.
If the Twins kept up their current pace of winning through an entire 162-game season, they’d finish 135-27. Sounds good, right? Well, that would be the best record of any MLB team ever, by far, so don’t hold your breath. Just looking at the sheer numbers, it’s clear there will be more losing in the Twins’ future.
There is no way the pitching is this good
Yes, the Twins are in first place and it’s crazy, but do you know why they are in first place? Well, friends, let me just take a sip of this pipping hot coffee and look up some sortable team sta—
What the hell?! Twins pitchers so far have a combined ERA of 2.04, which isn’t just the best in the league, but in all of baseball. Keep in mind this is a team that was so worried about pitching just one week ago that they decided to go with thirteen pitchers on the roster and force fourth outfielder Robbie Grossman to serve as the Opening Day DH.
The Twins do not actually have the best pitching in all of baseball, but at least the drastically improved outfield defense along with Jason Castro’s pitch framing skills seem to be making a difference. The pitching is going to get worse, yes, but maybe the Twins aren’t in as much trouble as previously thought.
Someone is going to get injured
You know it’s going to happen. Byron Buxton is going to be busy catching everything in the outfield until one day when WHAM! He runs into the wall a little too fast, breaks some ribs or something, and suddenly Danny Santana is starting in center field and batting second.
There is a huge drop-off when it comes to the Twins’ center field options after Buxton, which is why the Twins have no plans to send him down despite the fact he’s 2-for-26 (.077) with fourteen strikeouts.
Center field isn’t the only place where one injury could be disastrous for the Twins, either. If they (god forbid) lost Jason Castro, they’d have to rely on John Ryan Murphy—who hit .146/.193/.220 in 26 games last season—or Mitch Garver—who has never played in the majors at all. Add on the fact the Twins pitching staff would probably turn back into a pumpkin, and boy, losing Castro would not be good at all.
That’s exactly how you know it’s probably going to happen. Castro is going to get bilateral arm weakness or something and Buxton is going to tear his ACL. I mean, they are still the Twins.
They still have to play the Indians 19 times
Sure, the Twins are 5-1 right now and the Indians are only 3-3, but let’s get real: The Indians are clearly the better team. Nearly every single person on the planet has picked the Indians to win the AL Central Division. My Dad probably would have picked the Indians to win the division if anyone had asked him, and he pays so little attention to baseball I’m not even sure he knows who Albert Pujols is.
The point is, the Twins still have a lot of teams to face. A lot of those teams are probably better than the two teams the Twins have faced (the White Sox and the Royals). The Indians, for one, are definitely better, and the Twins still have to face them 19 times. Let’s wait and see what happens then before we start planning the Twins championship parade route.
So is that it? The rest of the season is just going to be doom and gloom? Twins fans should just end it all now?
Well, I wouldn’t go that quite far, either. The Twins can’t stay this hot, but at least they got this hot for a week. At least the pitching has looked competent and Byron Buxton hasn’t had to have a limb amputated.
Even though things are going to get worse, imagine if some of the other missing pieces fall into place. What if Byron Buxton actually starts hitting? Or Brian Dozier? I nearly forgot Dozier was still on the team. And what if the Twins call up Kennys Vargas or ByungHo Park and finally have a real DH? Joe Mauer—what if he does, uh, something? What if Glen Perkins returns healthy to the bullpen and Jose Berrios joins the big league rotation?
While the Twins aren’t going to go 135-27, it’s pretty clear this is not the same team that came to “play” in 2016.