Souhan: Don't let postseason dread spoil Twins' summertime success

Jim Souhan, Star Tribune
·3 min read

If past is prologue, if history repeats itself, if the Twins' recent run of success is representative of this team's capabilities, we all know what is going to happen in the next eight months.

Pitchers and catchers are reporting to Fort Myers, Fla., for the beginning of spring training.

For the rest of February, they will tease us from afar with the charms of spring training — green grass, sunshine and baseball's ambient sounds.

In March, they will tease us with meaningless games highlighting potential stars of the future, such as Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff.

From April through August, they will engage in an intimate rivalry with their primary divisional rival — now the Chicago White Sox — for the championship of the American League Central.

In September, they will earn a place in the American League playoffs.

In October, they will implode.

None of the above is guaranteed to happen. All of it is more likely than not.

So as Twins pitchers and catchers report to spring training, I'd like to offer advice to baseball fans of the Upper Midwest. Enjoy the seven months of quality baseball the Twins are likely to provide, and save your postseason rage for the postseason.

As vaccinations become more available, we can hope that by some point this summer we can buy tickets to Target Field and bask in the sun as light reflects off the angles and glass of downtown Minneapolis.

Until then, baseball will again prove itself the best possible sport to watch in a pandemic. Because there is soooo much of it.

The Vikings play 16 three-hour games during their regular season. That's 48 hours. The Twins might exceed 48 hours of game time in the first three weeks of their season.

Add in a month of spring training and a few hours in the postseason, and the Twins will produce more hours of entertainment than all of the Bachelors, Bachelorettes, Voices, Idols and Angry Housewives shows our networks can cram on the small screen this year.

And it's quality entertainment. In 2019, the Twins won 62.3% of their games. In 2020, they won 60% of their games.

Only once before in franchise history — and I mean since 1901, when the Washington Senators first pulled on their potholder-sized fielder's gloves — have the Senators/Twins won 60% of their games in two consecutive seasons. The Senators did it in 1932 and 1933.

Only twice before had the Minnesota Twins won 60% of their games in a season — in 1965 and 1970. Remember, the 1987 World Champions won only 52.5% of their regular-season games, and the '91 champs won 58.6% of theirs.

Twins fans have never seen this form of regular-season excellence before. And they haven't seen a postseason victory since 2004, meaning the Twins have a longer postseason drought than the Timberwolves.

For better or worse, the 2021 Twins look like they're built to win about 60% of their regular-season games again, and look like they might not inspire confidence entering their next postseason.

They have played five postseason games in the past two seasons and have scored nine runs in those games. The popular cliché is that you need an ace to win in the postseason, but what the Twins have needed is better quality at-bats and a few clutch hits.

But why worry about October today?

Kiriloff could be the antidote to the Twins' poor October run production … or not. Byron Buxton could win a playoff series by himself … or not. Josh Donaldson could be healthy and prove his gamesmanship is what the Twins have been missing in October … or not.

Let October take care of itself. For the next seven-plus months, we get to enjoy the sport that provides more hours of entertainment than any other; the sport that is defined the most by its regular season.

Enjoy the Twins' exceptionalism from now until October. There will be plenty of time for anger later.

Jim Souhan's podcast can be heard at TalkNorth.com. On Twitter: @SouhanStrib. • jsouhan@startribune.com