One week of the 2017 Major League Baseball season is officially in the books. The owners of the American League’s best record if the Minnesota Twins. Yes, you read that correctly. At 5-1, the Twins are off to their best start since 1987. Just throwing this out there, they won the World Series that year.
If you think I’m changing my World Series pick to the Twins, you’re going to be disappointed. The Twins’ start is impressive, but it doesn’t change much in the long run. However, after last year’s historically bad start that led to an MLB-leading 103 losses, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the Twins’ hot start. So let’s dive right into the Twins’ 2017 season thus far.[Milkins]
Ervin Santana Leading the Pitching Staff
The Twins’ pitching staff was expected to be towards the bottom. Yet after six games, their 2.04 team ERA and .191 BAA lead the Majors. That can largely be attributed to two dominant starts by Ervin Santana. He put together an impressive seven-inning, two-hit, and one-run performance on Opening Day.
He followed it up on Sunday with six shutout innings against the White Sox. Kyle Gibson, Phil Hughes, and Hector Santiago put together impressive starts of their own. They each lasted at least five innings and gave up three runs or fewer in their starts.
The Twins haven’t had to worry about turning it over to the bullpen either. In 22 innings of work, the bullpen has given up just four runs. Brandon Kintzler has been nearly perfect in the closer role, with just one hit in 4.1 innings. He’s three for three in save opportunities as well.
Jorge Polanco and Miguel Sano Fuel the Offense
The offense hasn’t been quite as dominant as the pitching, but it’s certainly done the job. Hot starts by Jorge Polanco and Miguel Sano have propelled the offense for the Twins. They were both at it again Sunday. Polanco collected two hits including a solo homer, while Sano went 2-4 with a two-run homer and a double. Polanco’s .389 average and Sano’s two homers, eight RBI, and seven runs lead the team. There have been questions surrounding both Sano and Polanco’s defense, but the rest of the Twins have more than made up for it.
Byron Buxton Patrolling the Defense
The Twins’ have had the most exciting defense this season, hands down. That can almost entirely be attributed to Byron Buxton in centerfield. Buxton has always been known for his defense, and this year he’s wasted no time putting it on display.
According to Statcast, Buxton made the first five-star catch in the Majors this season on Opening Day. He tracked down a sinking line drive off the bat of Alex Gordon and made a diving catch to end the inning. He hasn’t stopped since and continues to impress day in and day out. With Max Kepler in right and Eddie Rosario in left, they have significantly improved over last year.
The outfield hasn’t been the only part of the defense showing off their skills thus far. Aside from a two-error game by Miguel Sano, the infield has been perfect. Sano’s two have been the only blemishes in the field for the Twins, and it’s taken a huge amount of pressure off the pitching staff.
Say what you want about what the Minnesota Twins’ 5-1 start means. Sure, they may still end up in the cellar of the AL Central, and may actually be as bad as we all expect them to. For now, though, the Twins are one of the most fun teams to watch. They’ve caught my attention, and they’re playing well enough to keep it up.