Major League Baseball is on its way back! While we wait for Spring Training 2.0 and the season to start up, we will continue to have Jack Kewitsch take over the team as both the manager and general manager through Out of the Park (OOTP) in this simulation-style season. But we will be speeding it up and covering a month at a time as the real Opening Day is this week!!!!
Games 138-141: Clinched
Just like that, we have clinched the American League Central division. It was hard to imagine a scenario where we would falter after our 27-game win streak, and it became impossible with our win against the Indians to start September. Berrios got us through the seventh and Romo and Rosenthal secured the team’s second straight division crown.
Prior to the game, Randy Dobnak won Rookie of the Month. Posting a 3-0 August with a 2.25 ERA in only four starts. Including a complete game shutout.
Urias would re-injure his back in the second game. But it would be a day-to-day situation so we wouldn’t need to throw him on the IL. While the bats didn’t help the cause. Dropping the second game.
We would also drop the third game of the series 8-6 due to an inconsistent start from Maeda. Although Polanco hit his 20th Bomba of the year giving us seven players to reach the threshold. So you win some, you lose some.
The series finale was a better outcome. Odorizzi allowed only one run through six while the offense began building a lead primarily off the bat of rookie call-up Alex Kirilloff. He managed to go 3-3 with two Bombas (the first of his career) and three runs en route to a 6-1 win.
Twins 3 – Indians 2
Indians 4 – Twins 1
Indians 8 – Twins 6
Games 142-144: Berrios Shines
Berrios threw an absolute masterpiece in the middle game of the series. Going the distance while striking out 10. Let’s just roll through the month.
Twins 12 – White Sox 7
Twins 5 – White Sox 0
White Sox 12 – Twins 3
Games 145-147: Inching Towards the Record
Prior to our matchup with Cleveland, I decided to get ahead of contract extensions with a few players. First, Odorizzi. He initially wanted a hefty, 8-year $120+ million deal. I was in no way willing to splurge on a 30-year old pitcher that struggles to go deep into ball games. While he has been great for the Twins in his two years here (28-9 record with an ERA hovering around 3.25) I couldn’t justify a massive extension.
Instead, we settled on 4-years and $78 million. He should be a good rotational arm for the next few seasons. I also extended Trevor Rosenthal to a 3-year $3.7 million deal. Thankfully he was more reasonable and bullpen arms aren’t as pricey.
As for the games, Miguel Sano played hero in the first one by going deep for the 45th time on the year. Unfortunately, we couldn’t comeback in the second. But Cruz and Sano would again carry the team to victory in the rubber match. Each blasting one over the fence. Cruz would hit the pivotal homer in the top of the 12th for two to put us ahead for good.
Twins 4 – Indians 2
Indians 5 – Twins 3
Twins 7 – Indians 5
Games 148-150: Hurry Up, October
Can you tell I am getting bored with these at the moment? It is probably because I am pushing through these games at a record pace and simming most of them.
Thankfully, we keep rolling. Berrios and Maeda won their starts with Berrios almost having another complete game. October can’t come soon enough.
Twins 4 – Tigers 2
Twins 7 – Tigers 0
Twins 4 – Tigers 2
Games 151-153: Plug and Chug
I kept Odorizzi in for a complete game in the first matchup, which may have been a bad idea in hindsight as the Rangers almost came back to win. Then Kirilloff, Buxton, and Garver all went deep to keep us one step ahead in game two with Dobnak registering his 11th win.
Twins 5 – Rangers 4
Twins 9 – Rangers 7
Rangers 4 – Twins 3
Games 154-156: Another Record and a Few Walk-Offs
The team came through when we needed them most. Tied 3-3 in the eighth, the Tigers were stringing together a frustrating performance. Allowing baserunners, but doing enough to stop any sort of damage. However, with two on and no outs in the eighth, Donaldson came through with a 2-run single and Rogers was able to get back to his saving ways.
Game two was much of the same. Except this time it went 13 innings. Thankfully Sano clutched up and hit a walk-off Bomba (his 49th) for the 4-3 win. Not only was the third game the same score as the second, but it was another comeback walk-off. This time, we needed to score a run in the sixth, eighth, and ninth just to push it to extras after the Tigers scored all their runs in the first. But Polanco came through in the tenth with a Bomba walk-off of his own.
Oh, and we broke the MLB record for wins in a season with 117. Suck it, Seattle.
Twins 6 – Tigers 3
Twins 4 – Tigers 3
Twins 4 – Tigers 3
Games 157-162: Finishing the Season
Highlights from the last two series of the year. Berrios and Odorizzi shined, Sano hit his 50th Bomba, and we finished with a 120-42 record. Talk about absolute insanity.
Padres 11 – Twins 4
Twins 4 – Padres 1
Padres 3 – Twins 1
Twins 7 – Royals 4
Twins 6 – Royals 4
Royals 4 – Twins 3
Final Record: 120-42
Next Up, Playoffs
No bad news here! The most successful season in Twins, and arguably MLB, history has given the Twins home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Oh, and the Yankees didn’t qualify! DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES?!
While we will have to face the Indians or Astros* in the ALDS, we have performed well against both teams. Although having a losing record to the Indians (8-11), we were competitive in basically all the games. As for the Astros*, we were undefeated (6-0), so maybe we want them to win the Wild Card game at home.
Season Hitting Review
Where do I begin? Even though we hit around 40 fewer Bombas, they still came in bunches and the runs were plentiful. Leading the league in runs scored. We also saw a 14-point jump in batting average to lead the league at .284.
I went with a crazy bunch of lineup variations. From leaning towards batting-pitcher splits being the ultimate landing spot and then plugging guys in accordingly.
Arraez was dominate in his first full year in the bigs. Leading the league in batting average (.365) by 17 points in the AL (Alex Bregman – .348) and by 21 points against the NL (Raimel Tapia – .344). He led the league with 214 hits. He also did the unthinkable. Striking out less than walking. Striking out only 27 times compared to 90 walks.
However, he was not the team’s MVP. That distinction goes to Josh Donaldson. The newcomer had a crazy year at the plate. Leading the team with an 8.3 WAR and .967 OPS. He also batted .384 in high leverage situations and .333 with runners in scoring position.
As for the rest of the lineup, no one posted a negative WAR and we continued to mash. Buxton was a particular bright spot. At least in comparison to what he has been.
Not only did he play in all but TWO GAMES, but he also stole 116 bases. Putting him in third all-time for a single season. He also hit 19 HR, 78 RBI and batted .265/.325/.438 with a 6.1 WAR.
Kepler also struck out less than walking (93 Ks to 94 BB) while also hitting 31 HR and 109 RBI.
Season Pitching Review
As for pitching, a lot of guys had a lot of wins. But a lot of that has to do with how iconic the offense was. With that being said, we did lead the league in Bullpen ERA, FIP, and Pitching WAR while placing second in Starter ERA, Runs Allowed, and Strikeouts.
Although Dobnak isn’t listed above, he went 11-5 in his official rookie year while posting a 3.93 ERA in 23 starts. Having a few gems along the way.
But it is hard to determine the best pitcher for this staff as each had their highs and lows. Although Odorizzi slightly edges out Berrios. Going 15-2 in 34 starts, throwing 217 innings, 219 K, a 3.07 ERA, and 163 ERA+.
See you in the playoffs!