If you were to tell me two months ago the Twins would start the season as a threat to lead the AL Central by mid-April, I’d be shocked. Sure we’ve slid to 7-6 on the year, but with the Wild season all but over(down 3-0 against the Blues) the Twins have started to draw more of my attention. Unlike last year where we started the season 0-9 last year(finishing April with a 7-17 record…) the Twins are on a hot pace to surprise a lot of people. Let’s compare 2016 and 2017:
So what changed? Here’s my biggest surprises so far:
- Pitching staff – Ervin Santana has been lights out(3-0 W/L, .041 ERA, 5 hits allowed(!) in 22 innings) and is leading as the ‘ace’ of the rotation. Phil Hughes returns to form with two wins of his own, and I think the biggest surprise has been the bullpen – 1.93 ERA in 42 innings, 9 earned runs, a 1.000 WHIP and a high 8.6 K/9.
- Robbie Grossman – Robbie’s batting .310/.487/.517 through ten games! Dude is consistently getting on base with 9 hits, and 10 walks through 29 plate appearances. Thank you Cleveland.
- Jorge Polanco – Another hitter who is consistently getting on base(13 hits, 3 walks), Polanco has come into his own as the Twins SS this year.
- Miguel Sano – One of the hardest hitting batters in the league, lil’ Miggy is crushing the ball. Four doubles, a triple(!), and the team leading three home runs through 40 at-bats. He’s striking out plenty(16), but I feel he’s also been a bit more patient at the plate this year(11 walks!). There was an at-bat the other day where he quickly fell down 0-2, fouled off one pitch, and laid off four others and took the walk. Batting .250/.412/.625 on the year – OBP(.027 higher) and SLG(.095 higher) are currently career highs though they will surely fall come seasons end – a 1.037 OPS would definitely help improve last year’s record, but cold streaks happen.
- Byron Buxton – Yeesh. Can a guy catch a break? He’s been a plus defender with shades of Torii Hunter-like fielding, but I wish his batting would reach the Major League level. Through 12 games, Byron is batting .093/.152/.140 with 23(!) strikeouts in 43 at-bats. Since being drafted in 2012, Byron’s been a much better MiLB hitter than a MLB hitter – .209/.263/.374 vs. .304/.380/.501 – which would you rather have? It’s a bit early to start floating the ‘bust’ label, but he needs to turn it around quickly.
Now if the wheel falls off the wagon next month and we finish with 93 losses, at least we had a few April ‘showers’ not ‘growers’. :D.