Twins First Half Wrap-up
Twins territory should be very satisfied and very proud of the way their Minnesota Twins have performed this first half of the 2015 season. The 49-40 Twins have shocked almost everyone as they sit in second place in the AL Central, and hold a wild card spot.
Coming into the spring, the Twins looked like a team that would struggle mightily in a Central Division that is arguably the best in baseball. Experts thought it would take a couple more years for Minnesota to be a threat in such a tough division, and that the Twins would use this year to allow young guys like Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano to excite the fan base while the team itself might struggle.
The Twins, however, have taken a mix of that youth and veteran leadership, and have had a lot of success in the first half of the season. With no one who's played at least 20 games hitting over the .300 mark, the Twins have really been using team baseball to win the 49 games. For a team that ranks 15th in the league in batting average they have found ways to score runs. The Twins have the 9th most runs in the MLB and the most in the AL Central.
The run charge is led by all-star second-baseman Brian Dozier who has scored a team leading 67 runs. Dozier has continued to improve this season and has really stroked the ball well the last few weeks. In the last week alone, Dozier has hit 3 homers, catapulting himself into an all-star uniform.
Torii Hunter, has had a great comeback season in his return to Minnesota. Hunter has hit 14 home runs and has 49 RBI's while hitting .257 through the first half. The power supplied by Hunter has been the most impressive part of his game this year, as he only hit 17 home runs all of last season.
Pitching has been getting the job done this season, while not having an ace really in the group. The guy that could have came in and been the ace, Ervin Santana, has yet to pitch in a game due to serving a suspension for PED use. Kyle Gibson has been a pleasant surprise this season. Gibson is 8-6 with an ERA of just 2.85 through 18 starts.
Glen Perkins has continued to cement himself as the AL's top closer. Perkins has an AL leading 28 saves, and has yet to blow a save. Hitters have struggled to touch Perkins all season long. The Minnesota native has an ERA of just 1.21, and has allowed a batting average of just .188 against him. Perkins' dominance was again recognized, as he will, for the third straight season, represent the Twins and the American League in this week's all-star game in Cincinnati. While ranking in the middle of the pack in about every category, the Twins pitching staff has done a tremendous job of not allowing free bases, ranking second in least walks allowed.
With the veteran leadership of guys like Dozier, Mauer and Hunter, the Twins rookies have had mostly a smooth transition to the big-leagues. The expectations were high for the rookies that were called-up so far in the first half. Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, and Miguel Sano all have joined the big-league club this season, and all have had success in areas.
Rosario has had the most time in a Twins uniform this season. Rosario has spent the most time of the three in the majors, and is now really an every day starter for Minnesota. Rosario is hitting .284 in 55 games along with 4 homers and 25 runs. Buxton was getting into a bit of a groove before hurting his hand. In 11 games Buxton is hitting just .189, but in his last 3 games, Buxton hit .333 which included a 3-hit game, against the White Sox on ESPN. Sano, the most recent call-up has been nothing short of tremendous. Sano is hitting .378 with 2 homers and 8 RBI's, in his first 11 games as a big-leaguer. These three guys have had eagerly awaited starts to their careers and have all been solid contributors to the Wild Card leading, Minnesota Twins.
While the team hasn't featured many stand-out bats, or a Cy Young candidate, the Minnesota Twins have simply gotten the job done so far this season. With Buxton returning from injury soon, and Ervin Santana coming off suspension, it is sure going to be a fun second half of the season to watch. The combination of veteran experience and youth talent, the Twins have established themselves as a true contender at the all-star break, and there is very much a possibility that we could see the Twins still playing come playoff time in October.