The two teams that have made it to the Joe Mauer round have traversed journeys of significantly more than three games, but glory still waits at the end.
One a high-seeded favorite, the other an underdog through and through, the Minnesota Twins teams of 1969 and 2017 will meet in the final round of the Twinkie Town All-Time Twins Tournament:
Their paths to the final have taken unexpected paths, with stars playing like stars and unexpected heroes emerging. Here’s how they made it this far.
(16) 2017 Twins
- Walter Johnson Round: Def. (1) 1991 Twins 3-2
- Harmon Killebrew Round: Def. (9) 1925 Senators 3-0
- Kirby Puckett Round: Def. (13) 2003 Twins 4-2
The 2017 Twins, given the lowest seed thanks to their second-lowest total fWAR and wild card game exit, were not expected to make it even beyond one round... at least, not by me. I thought 1991 would walk over them and stroll into the Killebrew Round, which shows how much I know. Instead, ‘17 capitalized on Eduardo Escobar’s slugging (.391/.375/.826, three homers) and beat up on a surprisingly weak ‘91 bullpen, winning two games late before pulling away in Game 5. Up against 1925 in the Killebrew Round, ‘17 navigated a 14-inning roller coaster in Game 2 before Ervin Santana and the bullpen outdueled Walter Johnson in Game 3, completing a three-game sweep. Although falling behind 1-0 and 2-1 to 2003 in the Puckett Round, ‘17 pulled back both times, winning three straight behind Brian Dozier’s bat (.520/.556/1.160) and a dominant late-inning relief corps.
Until the end of the Puckett Round, I would not have said ‘17 was ever dominant, but they have repeatedly done enough to win. Although they faced lower-ranked opponents as they went through the bracket, that trend ends in the final with one of the highest seeds and pre-tournament favorites set as their opponent. Their starting pitchers, particularly Santana and Jose Berrios, will need to continue to pitch at the top of their game; it won’t be enough for ‘17 to do “just enough.”
(3) 1969 Twins
- Walter Johnson Round: Def. (14) 2004 Twins 3-2
- Harmon Killebrew Round: Def. (6) 1924 Senators 3-0
- Kirby Puckett Round: Def. (7) 2019 Twins 4-3
Despite their status as favorites, the 1969 Twins were twice taken to a round-deciding game before moving on. The lineup has seen strongest contributions from its stars atop the order, with Rod Carew, Tony Oliva, and Harmon Killebrew setting a consistent pace, while their pitching staff has had some surprising battles against hard-hitting opponents. ‘04 took them to five games in the Johnson Round, the deciding game tied at 5-5 after six before ‘69 finally pulled away. After two close games against ‘24 to start the Killebrew Round, ‘69 hammered the Senators in the third game for a sweep and a much-needed breather. They needed all of that breath in the Puckett Round; despite taking a 3-1 lead on the Bomba Squad, ‘19 won two in a row to force a seventh game in which both bullpens were pushed to the limit. But ‘69’s allowing the game-tying run in the eighth was the second-to-last mistake; ‘19 pemitting ‘69 to take the lead once more was the last one, allowing ‘69 to move ahead to the final.
Since I read the comments, I know that ‘69 has been one of the picks to win the whole thing from the beginning, and here they are. But with ‘17 hitting the ball well, ‘69’s pitching will need to step up. Their bats have come through in key moments; it’s the arms that will determine if they can earn the whole thing
And that’s where we stand now.
A few logistical notes:
- Since I no longer have to choose which game to play per day, I’ll be playing every game in this series. I won’t be putting the “(played)” tag beside the header since there’s no need to distinguish between played and simulated games.
- I’ll be keeping score every game as well, so I should be able to keep adding detail to the recaps.
- As I have been throughout the tournament, I’ll be posting one game per day, starting tomorrow.
Your All-Time Twins Tournament Joe Mauer Round teams:
Mauer Round Rosters
|(16) 2017 TWINS||(3) 1969 TWINS|
|2 - Brian Dozier - 2B||2 - Graig Nettles - 3B|
|5 - Eduardo Escobar - 3B||3 - Harmon Killebrew - 3B|
|7 - Joe Mauer - 1B||4 - Bob Allison - LF|
|9 - Matt Belisle - RP||5 - Leo Cárdenas - SS|
|11 - Jorge Polanco - SS||6 - Tony Oliva - RF|
|16 - Ehire Adrianza - SS||7 - Frank Quilici - 2B|
|17 - José Berríos - SP||9 - Charlie Manuel - LF|
|19 - Kennys Vargas - 1B||10 - Rick Renick - 3B|
|20 - Eddie Rosario - LF||11 - Ted Uhlander - CF|
|21 - Jason Castro - C||12 - César Tovar - CF|
|22 - Miguel Sanó - 3B||13 - John Roseboro - C|
|25 - Byron Buxton - CF||15 - George Mitterwald - C|
|26 - Max Kepler - RF||16 - Ron Perranoski - RP|
|36 - Robbie Grossman - LF||19 - Al Worthington - RP|
|38 - Chris Gimenez - C||20 - Rich Reese - 1B|
|39 - Trevor Hildenberger - RP||21 - Tom Hall - RP|
|40 - Bartolo Colón - SP||23 - Dave Boswell - SP|
|44 - Kyle Gibson - SP||27 - Jerry Crider - RP|
|49 - Adalberto Mejía - RP||29 - Rod Carew - 2B|
|54 - Ervin Santana - SP||31 - Jim Perry - SP|
|55 - Taylor Rogers - RP||32 - Dean Chance - SP|
|56 - Tyler Duffey - RP||33 - Joe Grzenda - RP|
|57 - Ryan Pressly - RP||35 - Dick Woodson - RP|
|62 - Buddy Boshers - RP||36 - Jim Kaat - SP|
|67 - Alan Busenitz - RP||49 - Bob Miller - RP|
The series starts now.
Walter Johnson Round: Day 1 / Day 2 / Day 3 / Day 4 / Day 5
Harmon Killebrew Round: Day 1 / Day 2 / Day 3 / Day 4 / Day 5
Kirby Puckett Round: Day 1 / Day 2 / Day 3 / Day 4 / Day 5 / Day 6 / Day 7
Joe Mauer Round: Preview / Game 1 / Game 2 / Game 3 / Game 4 / Game 5 / Game 6 / Game 7