I’m a firm believer that a team doesn’t win a World Series simply by CTRL-C & CTRL-V’ing a formula from the previous champion. There are numerous ways to build a championship-caliber roster, and jamming square pegs into round holes usually leads to disaster.
Texas Rangers Lesson: Never Stop Building
In 2021, the Arlington denizens lost 100+ games in the midst of a rebuild. They knew ‘22 probably wouldn’t be much better—but that offseason both Corey Seager and Marcus Semien fit their comeback strategy so they were brought aboard anyway. The same logic was applied to old friend Mitch Garver. As anticipated, a 68-94 campaign was the result.
But with a large swath of their starting infield set, Texas was able to focus on pitching the next winter and trade deadline, ultimately bringing in Nate Eovaldi, Jacob deGrom, Jordan Montgomery, & Max Scherzer.
The result? Narrowing missing a division title and an epic run through the postseason on the backs of those acquisitions. Sometimes the timelines for rebuild scenarios don’t always match up perfectly—but the Rangers pushed the issue and came out the better for it.
Arizona Diamondbacks Lesson: Take The Long View
After playing third-fiddle to the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants in the NL West for over a decade, the 2023 Snakes found themselves in first place on July 1. By August 11? 57-59, 13 GB the Dodgers, and not even holding a Wild Card berth.
It would have been easy to pack it in—as much emotionally as physically—after such a calamitous July, but Torey Lovullo’s bunch kept grinding. They eked out 84 victories, nudged out the Chicago Cubs by one game to nab the final WC slot—and then proceeded to sweep LA and knock off the defending champion Philadelphia Phillies.
In a sporting culture so dominated by weekly overreactions to NFL action (make no mistake—I’m part and parcel to that as well!), it behooves baseball franchises, coaches, players, and fans to remember just how much of a grind the 162-game season is. For the most part, a team is only as likely to make a World Series run as equivalent to how well they are playing when the postseason tournament begins.
In other words: Just get in! Truly anything can happen after that.
As previously noted, none of this is directly transferrable to the Twins or any other team in 2024. But the mindsets and team-building of both the Rangers and D-Backs might be something for Derek Falvey—and Twins fans—to at least file away in the back of the memory backs the next time a desired free agent appears “a year too soon” or a bad month elicits panic ripples from the fanbase.