If you haven't noticed already, baseball business works a little differently in Minnesota. Any way you look at it, the Twins run the metric system in an otherwise standard system of baseball.
While the rest of the league runs itself on big-name players and big power, the Twins are proud of their piranha heritage, nickel-and-dimeing their opponents.
I mean, why not? Four division championships in the last six years is something to be proud of. Granted, none of these playoff appearances provided much in the way of Series berths, but the success is nonetheless fascinating and refreshing amidst the other MLB teams trying to win with money and power (which does a fine job producing wins in Boston, I suppose).
Let's try an activity now. Fill in the blank. "A playoff team does not have ___."
So what did you come up with? I bet I can name a few, and then we'll really find out how the Twins have fared.
1. A playoff team does not have a player in the everyday lineup that is batting below the Mendoza line (.200).
They really don't. Such a black hole in the lineup just kills offenses. But guess what? Nick Punto was just that man in 2007, and Adam Everett, until recently, was that guy this year.
Punto kept his average below .220 for the vast majority of last year and was at .200 or below for 31 games last year. It would be one thing if he was a bench player. But he played in 150 games. Yeah. 150.
But of course, we mustn't dwell on something that Twins fans are trying to work on getting OUT of their mind. But of course, don't forget Adam Everett this year, who, until recently, was substantially below .200 and didn't re-emerge from the depths of the batting-average ocean floor until Aug. 9.
Maybe, because on Aug. 5, he had hit bottom at .175. And he was starting.
2. A playoff team does not have a pitcher, especially not one they call the ace, with an ERA above 5.00.
Well, that's painfully obvious! A team who scores six runs a game needs to be worried about a pitcher with an ERA of five or worse. Most would consider six to be phenomenal. There's no chance a team with an average runs-per-game of 5.04 would contend with such a pitcher. But Minnesota was that team, at least until Livan Hernandez left town.
Livan was sent packing after giving the team 23 starts with a deplorable 5.48 ERA. Remarkably, he came out ahead in his record, going 10-8 in his stint here. More so because the offense helped him out with an average of 5.7 runs per game in his 10 wins.
3. A playoff team in the AL doesn't put somebody in the DH spot that has never hit a home run.
They've gotten better, but last year, Jason Tyner saw 13 games in that spot. 'Nuff said.
4. A playoff team wins on the road and against teams that they should destroy.
I'll let you figure this one out for yourself.
But despite the seemingly indisputable and obvious rules about how to make the playoffs, the Twins find themselves just a half-game back of the White Sox...because the Twins do it differently.