The New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins are squaring off in a series right now. Much of the focus has been on the sticky stuff with Yankees ace Gerrit Cole at the center of the somewhat-manufactured controversy. Twins third baseman and former MVP Josh Donaldson has been commenting on the matter, too. Cole is pitching Wednesday night, so there might be fireworks.
Most of the attention that isn't focused on that matter in this series concerns how disappointing the Yankees have been. It makes sense. They've been terrible for a few weeks, having lost 10 or 13 until Tuesday's win.
Let's look at the other dugout, though.
The Twins entered this season considered the AL Central favorites by a good number of people. Those who didn't pick them to win most likely had them second. They had pretty similar personnel to the Twins that won 101 games in 2019 and then repeated as Central champs in the shortened 2020 season. The biggest concern, really, was their inability to win even a single playoff game (they've lost 18 postseason games in a row).
They won't have to worry about the playoffs this year, though, because they are done. Yes, I'm aware it's only June 9 and that they have 102 games left. I'm still burying them. Save this article, if you want, in hopes that you can taunt me come October. It won't matter.
The Twins are already 13 games out in the AL Central. We know not to standings-watch in early June too much, but for our purposes we'll point out they are 10 games out of the second AL wild card with seven teams in between. That's a mountain this team can't climb.
The Twins are 24-36 right now. Let's do some math.
- At this pace, they'll finish 65-97.
- SportsLine projects them for 71 wins.
- Fangraphs is more bullish, but still only has them for 78 wins. The chances of making the playoffs? 3.1 percent.
- If they play like a 90-win team the rest of the year, they'll finish 81-81. That's not gonna make the playoffs.
- If they play like a 95-win team the rest of the season, they will end up 84-78. That also won't cut it.
- If the Twins play like a 100-win team the rest of the way, they'll end up 87-75. At their current paces, there are six teams in the AL that will finish with better record with only five playoff spots available. And, again, that's asking the Twins to play at a 100-win pace for the next 102 games.
- The White Sox are on pace for 100 wins. In order for the Twins to get there, they'd have to go 76-26. That's .745 ball, which is a 162-game pace of 121 wins.
Is there anything we've seen from this Twins team to suggest they can pull off anything above the 90-win pace the rest of the year? Even in that scenario, they'd go 57-45 the rest of the season. In looking at a team that has been middle-of-the-pack offensively and dreadful on the pitching end, who would bet on them being 12 games over .500 the rest of the way? And to reiterate, this only gets them 81 wins for the year, which won't even be close to playoff contention.
Yes, there have been injuries. Yes, recent rule changes seem to have conspired against them, as they are 3-13 in either seven-inning or extra-inning games (of course, good teams can still win those games, but I digress). They have slightly underplayed their run differential (by just two games). So, sure, there's context. None of the context can change the Twins' record as of June 9, though, and the extremely uphill battle they face.
The bottom line is that in order to make the playoffs, the Twins have to play historically well for more than three-and-a-half months. They'll have to do so with a roster that has produced one of the worst resumes in baseball for over two months. The smart money is on their season already being over. Bury them.