Some baseball happened, some of it good, some of it bad, none of it mattering all that much. Only one thing matters.
THE MINNESOTA TWINS ARE THE 2023 AL CENTRAL CHAMPIONS!!
Most importantly, none of us have to think about the city of Cleveland until April. What a feeling. I’m pumped and have had a few celebratory adult beverages so let’s keep this one short and sweet.
We won’t go over the details today (Pablo was good, AK hit a 3 run bomb, Julien naturally had the game winning tricky defensive play) but I do want to take a minute to look at this team and how incredible this division title is.
From the very start of the season, this starting pitching staff has put the team on their shoulders. Pablo Lopez, Sonny Gray, Joe Ryan, Kenta Maeda, Bailey Ober, and Louie Varland in particular carried the load and picked each other up time and time again. They all had their ups and downs, but the veterans on top in Lopez and Gray have set the tone for the team.
The often overtaxed back end of the bullpen, with Jhoan Duran, Griffin Jax, and Brock Stewart and Caleb Thielbar when healthy have been solid. A special shoutout goes to Emilio Pagán who turned his season and career completely around after that disastrous outing in Boston to start the season.
Speaking of turning careers around, how about Max Kepler?? As the offense exploded in the second half of the season, plenty of credit went to the rookies, but Max Kepler has been front and center of it every step of the way. He has a goddamn .900 OPS in the second half!
Let’s not ignore the rookies though. Royce Lewis has been the best player on the Twins when he’s been healthy. Edouard Julien was basically asked to replace Luis Arraez and has done a bang-up job of doing exactly that. And god Matt Wallner hits some BOMBS. They turned the offense around and brought a jolt of life to the team.
Jorge Polanco has been the glue to the team when he’s played. And who can forget superhero Willi Castro, who has played everywhere and filled in every hole the Twins have needed along the way, even pitching a few times.
Side note that I don’t know where else to put. Do you guys remember that Son of Pudge got two outs for the Twins at some point this season? I could not for the life of me tell you when that was.
And you have to give some credit here to Falvey as well. He looked at the collapse from last year and decided he wasn’t going to let that happen again, bringing in Michael A. Taylor (3rd on the team in HRs!), Kyle Farmer, Castro, Donovan Solano, and trusting that the organizational depth they had built in the minors would pay off. I have been front and center criticizing him for not doing enough on a team with potential, and this second half proved me incredibly wrong.
After a dismal first half hitting, they’ve scored the 6th most runs in baseball the second half, 2nd most in the AL. And they’ve done all that with Byron Buxton and Carlos Correa having the worst seasons of their careers! Jose Miranda was supposed to be a key contributor, and he was just awful and then hurt. Buxton, Miranda, Lewis, Polanco, Kirilloff, Mahle, and Maeda have all missed major time, and it hasn’t mattered.
You can say it’s a weak division all you want, but this team in the second half has me believing. They’re playing like champs and they EARNED this division title. I’ll see you fools in October.
Let’s break this fucking streak.