Well we know one team that will be a divisional champion as head into the final 10 games of the season . Though many others are close to clinching, the Twins are the first team to solidify their place atop a division (AL Central). This is a team that really has taken care of business since the All Star Break in a big way. With a record of 44 and 18, people should be talking about the Twins as a potential threat to the Yankees or Ray to win the pennant.
This is not your typical Twins feel good story either. The Twins are a team that is expected to win a big way, every year now. They have over a 100 million dollar payroll and guys on the team like Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau (though he has been injured for half of the year), a rejuvenated Jim Thome, and a young stud in Delmon Young. Not to mention they are led by one of the game’s top managers, Ron Gardenhire. People forget that this is already Gardenhire’s 9th season at the helm in Minnesota. Last night victory secured his 6th divisional crown (guy has only gone under 500 once). Talk about a guy with a winning mentality and the numbers to back it up.
Lets look at how this team has taken the AL Central by storm. Well first of all, they hit. Any team that has a catcher like Joe Mauer most likely can hit right? They are 4th in the AL in runs. Also they are tied for first in batting averages. They provide quality at bats and put pressure on opposing pitchers by getting guys on base early and often. Most pitchers lose a bit of confidence when they have to consistently go out of the stretch with runners on base.
But the real story of this team has been the amazing pitching. Most of the staff may be what people like to call “no names,” but the Twin’s rotation has produced some absolutely mind-blowing statistics. They are 2nd in the AL in ERA, complete games, shutouts, and innings pitched. Their most amazing stat line goes back to fundamentals though. They have given up the least walks in all of baseball And by least, I mean over 36 less walks than the next closest team (Phillies). That is highly impressive. Their staff consists of Brian Duehnsing, Francisco Liriano, Carl Pavano, Kevin Slowey, and Scott Baker. Want to know something these guys all have in common? Well obviously they do not give away bases with walks, but they also all have winning records! How many pitching staffs can you think of where all 5 of the starters were above 500? Nick Blackburn is another guy that has started a good amount of games for this team and his overall record is 9 and 10. Having 5 of 6 starting pitchers with a record over 500 is still highly impressive.
So with the White Sox going down to the A’s last night, the Twins became the first team to clinch a division in the MLB this season. Let the champagne flow baby. These Minnesota boys have been demonstrating how Twins kill opponents all year.
People should start calling Ron Gardenhire’s squad the “Killer T’s” if they haven’t already.
Can they come out of the brutal AL?
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.