The Twins needed three wins against Kansas City to have a chance at making the post-season; they got none. During the October 3 game, one at-bat proved to be the dagger. With the Twins down 5-1 in the 9th inning, they had the bases loaded. Manager Paul Molitor desperately sent up pinch-hitter Kennys Vargas to try to tie the game. However, Vargas never swung the bat, watching the season of surprises fizzle to a close. A day later, the Twins season ended in a 6-1 thrashing in which starter Ricky Nolasco lasted less than 3 innings.
Overall though, most media personnel considered the season a success. The Twins, who hit 156 long balls with a team average of .247 this year, finished with a 83-79 record, good for securing second place in the AL Central. After a stellar first half of the season with a record of 49-40, the Twins couldn’t keep up, eventually falling two games below .500 on August 19 before frantically trying to rebound at season’s end. They almost did, falling short of a Wild Card spot by just 3 games. We also saw a lot of rookies succeed for the Twins that has made us excited for future years.
At various points during these past seven months, our club called up several youngsters that are supposed to be our future team. Eddie Rosario, Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, and Max Kepler all got the call. The two prospects that really made a difference were Rosario and Sano. Rosario homered in his first Major League at-bat in May, en route to a .267 batting average with 13 home runs, 15 triples, and 11 stolen bases. Rosario also led the Twins in outfield assists with 16.
When Sano was called-up from Double-A in early July, we weren’t expecting much. Sano turned out to be probably the Twins MVP during the second half. In 80 games, the rookie slugger smacked 18 home runs and drove in 52 runs, resulting in a .269 average. The downside of Sano is that he strikes out way too much; 119 this year. On the flip side, when Sano connects, the ball is gone.
The number one MLB Prospect got some playing time this season, although he struggled while up here. Buxton played in 46 games this year, adding up to a .209 average with 27 hits and 2 homers. Buxton could not get acclimated to Major League Baseball because he sprained his thumb and missed 4 weeks just two weeks into his career. On the flip side, veteran Torii Hunter had a pretty good season, although he slumped some when the Twins needed him most. Hunter played in 139 games this year, averaging .240 with 22 home runs, 81 RBIs, and 125 hits. After the last game, Hunter told the media that he will probably retire but will keep his decision disclosed, probably into January.
The Twins displayed good, fun baseball once again. There’s a glimmer of hope under Molitor. Hey, it’s Molitor’s first year managing and he drove the Twins to a winning record for the first time since 2010. With Kepler, who got his first MLB hit on Sunday, the other rookies, and Molitor’s first year of managerial experience behind him, the Twins should be better next year. All-in-all, the Twins proved to us that winning baseball in Minnesota once again could be just around the corner!
Written by: Michael L. Sack