The American League Central has been...interesting this season. In an earlier story I wrote about the division, there were no teams at .500 at that very time. It seemed like we would see an 81-81 or worse record actually finish first in the division, but that wouldn't be the case, as the wins picked up for the division's top teams. In all of the mess, I figured that the Cleveland Guardians would repeat as division champions because of their fantastic 2022 campaign. Not only did the Guardians win the division, they completely shut down the Tampa Bay Rays in the Wild Card Series, and went the maximum five games with a powerful New York Yankees team.
However, the team that emerged out of the weakened AL Central was not the Guardians. When all was said and done, it was the Minnesota Twins who won games at the right time, and on September 22, 2023, the Twins defeated the Los Angeles Angels, 8-6, to clinch the AL Central. This is their third division crown in the last five seasons, but unfortunately, the Twins will enter the 2023 Postseason with a terrible streak that they need to break.
In all honesty, the team's overall postseason history, dating back to their first 60 seasons as the original Washington Senators, has been very tepid. The Senators were one of the American League's worst teams for decades, though they managed to win a World Series in 1924. The team moved to Minnesota in 1961, and it only took five years for the renamed Twins to win the American League pennant. The Twins would win the World Series in 1987 and 1991 (the latter known for Jack Morris' complete game, 10-inning shutout in Game Seven), but since then, it's been a disaster. The Twins haven't won a postseason series since 2002, and even worse, they haven't won a postseason game since 2004.
Game One of the 2004 ALDS vs, of all teams, the New York Yankees, was the last time they won a postseason game. They have lost 18 straight since then, with 13 of the 18 being against the aforementioned Yankees. That streak stands as the longest in North American sports, and they will enter this year's Postseason looking to break that skid.
The main objective for the last three seasons has been keeping Byron Buxton healthy. That hasn't been the case. Buxton is their best hitter, but injuries have plagued him for the last few seasons. In his absence, Max Kepler picked things up, leading the team with 22 home runs, while Joey Gallo is right behind with 21. Carlos Correa, who remained a Twin after both the Mets and Giants passed on him, leads the team in RBIs with 65. None of these numbers are usually high enough to lead Postseason-bound teams, but it was enough for the Twins to win a bad AL Central. As for pitching, Pablo Lopez's 11-8 record leads the team, though his 3.61 ERA is a bit suspect. Joe Ryan is 10-10 with a 4.30 ERA, and while Sonny Gray is sporting a 2.87 ERA, he has an 8-7 record. Oh boy.
The Twins, apparently, are destined for the American League's #3 seed, which would allow them to host a Wild Card series against the American League's lowest Wild Card. However, they are not that far behind any of the three teams who are in a tight American League West race: the Houston Astros, the Texas Rangers, and the Seattle Mariners. Even more interesting: the Twins won the season series against both Texas teams, so they really do have a chance at the American League's #2 seed, which will give them a bye straight to the Division Series.
It amazes me that the Twins could actually end up with the #2 seed. The AL Central has been weak all season, yet despite this, the Twins won the season series against the Astros and Rangers, so they do have an outside shot at higher seeding. The final week or so will determine all of that, but the goal for the Twins is a simple one: win (at least) one postseason game and end that terrible skid. We have recently seen improbable runs in the NHL and NBA this calendar year. Could the Twins actually shock the world and go on a long run? We shall see.