MLB: Thanks To New Coaching Staff, Twins In Playoff Hunt
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Despite losing 5-1 to newly acquired David Price and the Toronto Blue Jays, the Minnesota Twins are in the middle of the AL Wild Card chase.
The Minnesota Twins are no longer the cellar dwellers of the American League. It’s an unexpected turn of events given the team finished with an unfavorable 70-92 record a season ago. However, we now sit two months away from the conclusion of the 2015 season, and somehow the Twins have a fighting chance at once again partaking in the postseason festivities.
It’s been a long postseason hiatus for the Twins. The last time the team advanced to the MLB playoffs was during the 2010 season. Led by Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer, the team went 94-68 to claim the A.L. Central championship. However, what followed that magical 2010 season were four years of painfully excruciating baseball.
The Twins finished last in the A.L. Central three out of the last four years, and a once proud franchise was almost non-existent to anyone outside of the Twin Cities. As a result of the Twins downfall, management decided to seek new leadership. They fired longtime manager, Ron Gardenhire, at the end of the 2014 season.
In his place the team hired former Twins All-Star, Paul Molitor. The turnaround happened almost instantaneously, as Molitor took an inconsistent Twins team from laughing-stock to contender seemingly overnight.
Minnesota still features former league MVP, Joe Mauer, but little else has remained the same since the teams last postseason appearance. Now, players such as Trevor Plouffe, Brian Dozier, Miguel Sano, and Aaron Hicks lead the charge, and have many Twins fans optimistic for what lies ahead. Brian Dozier is at the center of Minnesota’s revival.
Dozier was the teams lone offensive All-Star. Through July 25th, the second baseman leads the team with 21 home runs and 55 RBI’s. He has been one of the main catalysts to the Twins string of success, and has become one of the Twin Cities most beloved athletes.
Although, Dozier isn’t the only All-Star on the Twins roster. Glen Perkins has been one of the most dominating closers in baseball. He is one of the league leaders in saves and has been a key part of the Twins bang-up relief staff. While it’s easy to give credit to players like Dozier and Perkins, the Twins have seen career years from their underrated bunch of starting pitchers.
Minnesota doesn’t have that one true ace on its staff, but somehow the team has gotten by with under the radar pitchers that include Phil Hughes, Trevor May, and Tommy Milone. Many say the increased production from the teams once woeful starting pitching has been the result of new pitching coach, Neil Allen.
In one year, Allen has been able to cut the runs allowed from 4.80 to 4.06. Parker Hageman of Twins Daily is of the belief that the strategy Allen employed with the Tampa Bay Rays has been the main cause for the sudden improvements. Hageman went on the say the following about Allen’s approach.
“The Rays threw the most changeups, but they also threw the highest number of changeups after changeups. And when the Rays pitchers doubled up on changeups — which they did a MLB-high 32 percent of the time — they held opponents to a .189 batting average against.”
You can credit the teams pitching to Allen’s unique methods. Although, the hiring of Allen is due in large part to Molitor, who has turned the Twins into a perennial contender. He seems to be getting every ounce of effort from his ball club. They don’t have the highest payroll, nor do they play in the most marketable city, but the Twins have become a real threat in the American League.
Nobody expects the Twins to win the World Series, but it’s safe to say the team’s streak of losing seasons is over.