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From road warriors to home heroes

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This year’s squad does well in front of the hometown, uh, cardboard

Detroit Tigers v Minnesota Twins - Game One Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

In 2019, the Minnesota Twins were a perfectly acceptable 46-35 (.568 winning %) in front of the hometown fans at Target Field. Remarkably, however, they were 55-26 (.679) in opposing ballparks and thus put together a historic season.

This year, the pendulum of home field advantage has swung completely back the other direction. On the road in ‘20, the Twins are a shaky 9-13 (.409). But in front of the Peanuts gang, Billy Heywood, and a host of cardboard Twins legends/fans, the team is 18-5 (.783).

St. Louis Cardinals v Minnesota Twins
A man among (cardboard) legends
Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Starting Friday night, the Twins will embark on their most crucial stretch of the season thus far: 3 games at home against the Indians, followed by 7 in Chicago (4 South, 3 North). Locked in a three-team dogfight for the AL Central crown, there’s a lot of speculation about how much home-field advantage really means in the ‘20 season. Though no official announcement has been made, the “word on the street” seems to be that bubble sites will be used for playoff action. Perhaps only the three-game Wild Card series will be played at home parks.

As such, does it really matter if the Twins finish first, second, or third in the Central? Though I wouldn’t risk anyone’s health for another pennant flapping in the Target Field breeze, there are two solid reasons why I still want the Twins to be the home team in as many playoff games as possible:

First, the last time the Twins won a playoff affair occurred during the second George W. Bush administration—2004.

Twins v Yankees
The last Twins playoff victory
Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

If the Wild Card round sees three consecutive games played at a home site, I want those games in Target Field, not Tampa Bay, Oakland, Chicago, or Cleveland.

Second, in a recent FanGraphs podcast I listened too, it was mentioned that a large benefit of home field advantage is simply “last ups”. Knowing what the opponent has done, and thus what you need to do, is perhaps as important as fans, park knowledge, or a familiar bed/schedule.

Bottom line: it’s great to see the Twins playing dominant baseball at home again—spectators or not. Since that inaugural 2010 Target Field season, when they posted a .654 WP, the team hasn’t sniffed that number. Hopefully the return to that form this year will serve them well—even if it isn’t the home grass they’ll play on come October.