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2017 Minnesota Twins An Understated MLB Comeback Story

What a difference a season makes.

You don’t hear a lot about the 2017 Minnesota Twins, but their rebound this season is worthy of note.

The 2016 edition of Minnesota’s baseball team was wretched. They opened their season 0-9, never sniffing .500 the entire year. This led them en route to a 103-loss season, their first with 100 or more losses since 1982. Fresh off of their worst season in over 30 years, few had any expectations for the Twins in 2017.

As John Sterling says, “you can’t predict baseball, Suzyn.” It was at least true in the case of Minnesota, who, in defiance of expectation, are having a respectable 2017 season.

They may not get to the playoffs, but it is impressive how quickly they’ve made up ground. Some of it has been good fortune, but they are winning their close games. In terms of Pythagorean win-loss, they’d be over 10 games below .500, but they’ve gotten blown out a number of times. Those hurt the run differential, but the 2017 Twins win games that the 2016 Twins lost. Minnesota lost about two-thirds of their one-run games last season; they’re winning two-thirds now.

The 2017 Minnesota Twins Turnaround

2017 Minnesota Twins relative to 500

Minnesota was eight games below .500 almost out of the gate last season. Their deficit was 28 games under at the 80-game mark. Late in the season, it peaked at 46 games under .500; they finished 44 under.

Compare that to what we see now in these Twins. They have briefly gone below the .500 mark, but for the most part, they’ve been over it. Yes, it looks as though they’ve had a lot of ten-game stretches of going 5-5. That’s a lot better than 1-9 or 2-8, which happened more than a few times in 2016.

Through 90 games, Minnesota is two over, compared to 24 under last season. They are 13 games better than last season, which represents a huge swing. If the Twins hold at around .500 all season, they’ll be over 20 games improved.

Why Are The 2017 Minnesota Twins Better?

Don’t downplay this, but the 2017 Twins didn’t get off to a horrible start. 0-9 set the tone for 2016 and the team never recovered from it.

Statistically, you’ll look at the numbers and see a team that doesn’t look a lot better than last year. Starting pitching, bullpen pitching, fielding, and team batting averages still aren’t great. There have been some individual performances from Miguel Sano and Ervin Santana, but the overall isn’t spectacular.

It comes down to one-run games, of which Minnesota lost 29 last season. Expanding it out to close games (3 runs or less), the Twins were 35-62 in those contests. This season, they’re 29-16 so far in these games. Simply put, they aren’t blowing leads like they did in the past. In 2017, they’ve blown nine save opportunities to date, which is one of the lowest figures in the league. Minnesota coughed up 20 last season.

Take a good look at the Major League Baseball playoff picture page.

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