At the start of the shortened season, I predicted the Twins would finish 33-27. When they started 10-2, I recognized the error of my ways, and wrote an apology article. Since that apology, they’ve gone 1-5. I’m not blaming myself for any of this, as that’s not my way, but I do feel some embarrassment for being on the wrong side of this two and a-half week history every time.
When I think they’re being vastly overrated entering the season, I am immediately proven wrong and shamed by their first 12 game results. So, I reel that back, and accept how wrong I was, and buy in to the evidence that they’re really a very good team. I tried to be the bigger man and accept that my prediction as well as my generally negative nature were simply out of step with reality. I can change, after all, and I’ve been wrong before, after all.
This change in attitude, of course, was met by the Twins losing 5 of 6 games to not particularly good competition. Now the Twins stand at 11-7. No shame in that, it’s a good record, they are an almost sure bet to make the playoffs, and a winning percentage of .611 is nothing to sneeze at. If they win at that clip through 60 games, they stand to win 37 games. Most of us would have been fine with a 37-23 record, and it’s four games better than I had predicted, so my apology still stands.
Still, something doesn’t feel quite right. Berrios isn’t an ace pitcher…yet, anyway. He is a good young pitcher with a bright future, but when he takes the mound, it’s quite clear that the other team doesn’t exactly change their approach to hitting. He’s not Roger Clemens, Nolan Ryan, or Clayton Kershaw, nor, so far at least, does he approach Johan Santana or Frank Viola, or even two years of Francisco Liriano. If the play-offs started tomorrow, would he be our number one pitcher? At the moment, our clear number one pitcher is Dobnak, with Maeda number two. Genuine ace pitchers don’t make their fans have those types of conversations. But none of that is his fault, perhaps as the late Denny Green would say “he is who we thought he is.”
Our hitting hasn’t been what we’ve expected either. Nobody expected Garver to struggle this way, and I think it’s also safe to say that Arraez hasn’t been what we’ve expected. Eddie has been clutch, Nelson and Kepler have been steady, and frankly, Buxton has been better than certainly I expected, but all in all, we’re not scoring that many runs, and we’ve particularly been shut down over these past six games. But even the most negative among us doesn’t expect our hitting frustrations to continue, as there is simply too much hitting talent to stay down much longer.
So, is the glass half full or half empty?
Odorizzi, Garver, and Arraez will all almost certainly improve their performances, and make contributions along the way. Big Mike will come back and inject some life and heft to their rotation as well. Hopefully Maeda, Dobnak, and Buxton will continue to fulfill expectations or even exceed them. Common sense and history would suggest that Josh Donaldson, off his injury, will begin to contribute, and that Sano and Kepler and Gonzalez (who’ve all been somewhere in the middle of this mix of good/bad/mediocre so far) will improve their numbers.
I’m not taking back my apology, they are better than the 33 wins I predicted…at least I think they are. But, at the same time, they are showing themselves to be not quite the runaway World Series contender that many of us had hoped them to be with their 10-2 start. They are, in typical Minnesota fashion, somewhere in between, going about their business, largely unnoticed by the national media, and leading us toward a successful (but not wildly so) season. Good, not great; contenders, not champions.
But, of course, I could be wrong, I’ve only had to completely reassess my position twice so far, through 18 games, so I won’t be surprised to be surprised again by what I see after 36 games. The answer to the question of whether the glass is half full or half empty is…yes, it apparently is.
In this team, the observer can see what he/she wants to see. If you see championship potential, who am I to argue? If you see relatively early playoff disappointment, who am I to argue? As the late Denny Green might have said: “they were who we thought they were.” I’m personally, just not sure yet what I think they are.
Then again, I’ve never considered quoting Denny Green so often in anything I’ve written before now, so, anything is possible I suppose. I’m watching the games, but I’m still not sure what my eyes are seeing, and as I reach for the glass beside me, I’m left to ponder how to describe the quantity before me. Half full or half empty? It is what you think it is.