The Minnesota Twins are currently over .500 and it’s May. I haven’t been able to say that for a while.
It seems like forever since the Twins have been over .500 this late into the season, which is sad since the season is only a month and a half old. But that’s how life goes in the frozen wasteland of Minnesota.
That being said, the sun is starting to shine and glisten off of the mostly open waters of our 10,000 lakes. Not only is the weather getting better, but the Twins are also better than what their record shows.
You read that right.
The Minnesota Twins are better than their current record of 18-17.
Yes, there are some reasons. First off the bat is the first one to bat, the leadoff spot.
The Twins started the season with Aaron Hicks in the leadoff spot, and we all know how that went. Hicks flailed around in the leadoff spot for long enough before manager Ron Gardenhire moved him down in the lineup and replaced him mainly with Brian Dozier.
Now, Brian Dozier is not a black hole at the top of the order, but he’s not the best leadoff man in the world. Neither is Jamey Carroll, who has appeared in the leadoff role in relief of starting second baseman Dozier.
The Twins do have the perfect leadoff man on their roster right now. It’s just a matter of getting over the stereotypes and what Twins fans are used to.
Joe Mauer is the perfect leadoff hitter.
Mauer takes pitches—a lot of them. You want that so the rest of your lineup can see what the opposing team’s starter is throwing that day. Additionally, the at-bat for Mauer doesn’t start until he has two strikes on him and fouls everything off until he gets his pitch.
Add in the fact that Mauer has a great batting average and is sometimes even the league leader, and it all makes sense.
It just simply can’t hurt to get Joe Mauer more at-bats—which means more hits—and therefore, potentially more runs for the Twins.
If Mauer doesn’t tickle your leadoff fancy, maybe the return of Aaron Hicks to the spot would…or at least his game vastly improving might.
Twins fans have seen the heating up of Aaron Hicks, and it was a coming-out party for Hicks on Monday night. Hicks was the star of the Twins 10-3 win over the White Sox.
Monday was Hicks’ first multi-hit game and first multiple home run game. Hicks cranked out two home runs, including a blast that went to straightaway center, which is a rare occurrence at Target Field.
Not only did he hit two home runs, but he also robbed Adam Dunn of a dinger to straightaway center, virtually in the same spot as his own bomb.
If Hicks can heat up and become closer to what he was in spring training, the Twins could become even more dangerous.
Speaking of dangerous, the arms that the Twins don’t yet have in their rotation could soon be dangerous to opponents. The arms that are in the minors on rehab are those of Cole De Vries and Samuel Deduno. In Triple-A is also Kyle Gibson, who is still working back from Tommy John surgery.
These three could be better than three of the current starters in the Twins rotation, and Twins fans were reminded last season just how important starting pitching is.
If these three arms find their way in the rotation, the Twins could get even better.
How will the Twins finish this season?
The Twins finishing over .500 is a very practical goal for this season. That once seemed a lofty goal, but after a month-and-a-half, it seems like it would be a disappointment if .500 or better isn't where the squad finishes in 2013.
The real test to see how good this Twins team is will begin on Friday night.
After this current series with the White Sox, the Twins have an off day on Thursday before beginning a stretch of 17 games in 17 days. It’s not the fact that it’s that many games, but it's who the Twins have to face.
In that stretch, the Twins only have three games against teams with below-.500 records. The Twins start the 17-in-17 with a three-game set with Boston at home, followed by three games in Atlanta, four in Detroit, two in Milwaukee, two against Milwaukee at home and wrap up with a three-game set with Seattle at Target Field.
If the Twins can come out of this stretch close to .500, we will know that this squad is for real. If the Twins fall flat on their face, we know that it was all a façade for a month-and-a-half.
The Twins are walking a fine line.
I believe they are better than they are showing. This upcoming stretch will show everyone the real Twins team.
If they prove me right, that’s just an added plus.