- The Twins have gone 14-4 in their last 18 games and 9-1 in their last 10
- Minnesota has a 6.5-game lead over Cleveland in American League Central
- The Twins remain well below the Astros and Yankees in the 2019 AL Pennant odds (+700)
The era of Kirby Puckett, Chili Davis, and Jack Morris may seem like a lifetime ago in Minnesota, but the current crop of Twins are doing their level best to raise hopes of another pennant in the Twin Cities.
With a 6.5-game lead over the Cleveland Indians in the American League Central, the Twins are currently heavily favored to win their division. Sportsbooks are currently offering them at -1400, with the Tribe second favorite at +150. Their odds to reach the World Series have improved, as well, but they remain relative longshots in the 2019 AL Pennant odds compared to the Houston Astros and New York Yankees.
2019 American League Pennant Odds
|New York Yankees||+190|
|Tampa Bay Rays||+1000|
|Boston Red Sox||+2500|
|Los Angeles Angels||+125000|
|Chicago White Sox||+3000000|
*Odds as of 9/4/19.
The Twins certainly have been hot over the last three weeks, posting a 14-4 record in their last 18 contests.
Live Long (Ball) and Prosper
The current Minnesota roster is very different than the 1991 version, and indeed any roster in major-league history. The Twins haven’t finished in the top 10 in home runs since that last World Series team had 140 in its championship season.
This year’s team is hitting homers at an unprecedented rate.
The Minnesota Twins have hit 268 homers this season, a new MLB single-season record…on Aug. 31 ?
— SI MLB (@si_mlb) September 1, 2019
A year after finishing 23rd in home runs, the 2019 Twins set the major-league season record last Saturday, and they set it in style, clubbing six homers in a 10-7 loss to the Tigers. The team now has 271 and counting, putting the 2018 Yankees in the shade.
Most home runs in MLB history:
268 — 2019 #MNTwins
267 — 2018 Yankees
264 — 1997 Mariners
260 — 2005 Rangers
257 — 2010 Blue Jays
257 — 1996 Orioles
They set the all-time record before September 1. Incredible.
— Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman) September 1, 2019
What makes this long-ball outburst even more surprising is that the Twins have been out-homered by their opponents in 26 of the last 27 seasons.
A one-season outlier makes it tough to pin hopes on that kind of offense, particularly in the knowledge that Minnesota will be seeing the other team’s’ best pitchers night after night in the playoffs.
Soft Schedule Concerns
While the division lead is obviously a good thing, one caveat would be how the Twins came to open up that gap over the Indians.
For four consecutive series over the tail end of August through the Labor Day weekend, the Twins have feasted on the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers, who are a combined 101-173 on the season.
Though the games still had to be won, the greater concern going into the postseason would be the discrepancy between the Twins record against good teams versus other World Series contenders. While the Yankees and Houston Astros are 40-29 and 34-25, respectively, against teams over .500, the Twins are just 27-31.
The current series against the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox, a team with its season running on life support, followed by series against the Indians and the Washington Nationals, both teams in Wild Card races, should give us get a better idea of what the present-day Twins are really like against quality competition.
So far this season, Minnesota is 19-11 in one-run games.
Stacking up with the Best
As already noted, the Twins don’t have a great record against above-.500 teams, but what about against the Astros and Yankees, the two teams they’ll likely have to beat to reach the World Series?
Sportsbooks have the Astros as the -140 favorite to win the AL Pennant, with the Yankees second at +190.
The Twins actually have a 4-3 record against Houston this year, while they’ve gone 2-4 against the Yankees. Interestingly, Minnesota was outscored in both matchups.
Starting to worry?
Come the playoffs, starting pitching is going to be crucial for Minnesota. Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, Kyle Gibson, Martin Perez, and Michael Pineda all had relatively great starts to the season. But the staff is undeniably trending down.
In five starts in August, Berrios posted an alarming 7.57 ERA as opponents hit .333/.395/.556 against him.
In five starts in August, [Twins All-Star starter Jose] Berrios posted an alarming 7.57 ERA as opponents hit .333/.395/.556
It doesn’t get much better looking down the rotation. Kyle Gibson, currently on the 10-day injured list with ulcerative colitis, had an ERA of 6.27 in six starts during August. Three of those came against the White Sox and Tigers. The trend of August swoons continues with Martin Perez, who had a 6.75 ERA in six starts last month.
Those statistics don’t bode well for a best-of-five or best-of-seven series against the Astros or Yankees lineups.
Pick: Stay away from Twins (+700) to win the AL Pennant