The two biggest home run hitting teams in baseball, the Minnesota Twins (101-61) and New York Yankees (103-59), meet in the ALDS. The Twins have not won a playoff series since 2002, and the Yankees knocked out them out contention five out of the last six times they advanced to the playoffs.
Rocco Baldelli’s squad won the AL Central with 101 wins. The Twins clinched the division title for the first time since 2010. They have to overcome their nemesis in order to break the October losing streak. The Yanks have been responsible for knocking out the Twins out of the playoffs numerous time (2003, 2004, 2009, 2010, and 2017). The last occurred in 2017, when the Yankees edged out the Twins in the AL wild card.
TWINS PLAYOFF ELIMINATIONS (Since 2003):
2017 NYY in AL Wild Card
2010 NYY in ALDS
2009 NYY in ALDS
2006 OAK in ALDS
2004 NYY in ALDS
2003 NYY in ALDS
The Twins lost 13 straight games in the playoffs since 2004. Their last series win occurred against the Oakland A’s in the 2002 ALDS. The New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins meet in the ALDS for the fifth time since 2003.
According to William Hill, the Yankees are 9/2 odds to win the World Series. The Twins are 12/1 odds to win the championship.
Twin City Bombers
The Minnesota Twins became the first team to hit 300 home runs in a season. They set a new MLB record with the most home runs in a season. They beat the previous record set by last year’s NY Yankees. They edged out the Bronx Bombers this year, in the last weekend of the season.
The Twins set a record with eight players hitting 20-plus home runs. That list includes Nelson Cruz, Max Kepler, Miggy Sano, Eddie Rosario, Mitch Garber, CJ Cron, Johnnie Schoop, and Jorge Polanco. At least 11 players hit double-digit homers this season.
The Twins Mount Rushmore of Bash — Cruz, Kepler, Sano, and Rosario — combined for 143 home runs and 386 RBI. Cruz hit .311, and jacked 41 with 108 RBI, despite missing 40-plus games. Garver hit 31 in only 93 games this season. If the Twins can keep up their home run output, they might finally break out of their funk in the ALDS.
Replacement Yanks Holding the Line
The resilient Yankees never flinched whenever someone like Did Gregorius, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, and Aaron Hicks went down with an injury. At several points this season, half of the Yankees AAA team were in pinstripes. The Replacement Yankees, like Gio Urshela and Domingo German, more than held the line, and still won 103 games despite losing ace Luis Severino for the majority of the season. Severino is back for the postseason, while German sits out indefinitely due to a domestic battery incident.
DJ LeMahieu missed out on the AL batting title, despite being out in front from the first week of the season. He’s been the MVP of the Yankees for his versatility in the infield, playing multiple positions.
Judge gets all the love and attention, but All-Star Torres had a sensational sophomore season with 38 home runs and 90 RBI. Sanchez missed the last couple of weeks of the season with a groin pull, but he’s ready to go for the ALDS. The Yankees catcher hit 34 home runs in only 106 games this season. Fans cannot wait for the Yanks to release El Kraken in October.
Veterans CC Sabathia and Brett Gardner are the two only players remaining from the 2009 World Series squad. Sabathia will miss the ALDS with a sore shoulder, but he’s the heart and soul of the Yankees club house. Gardner returned for one more season to come off the bench and provide veteran leadership, but Aaron Boone inserted him into the lineup when Aaron Hicks went down with a shoulder injury. Gardy hit a career-high 28 home runs this season, with big home runs in key situations.
On Deck: Two in Da Bronx
The Minnesota Twins come into the ALDS with one of the best road records in the league (55-26). The road-tested Twins will have to overcome the October crazies in the Bronx Zoo, who smell blood in the water against a team trying to fade bad history.
James Paxton (15-6) will take the mound for the Yankees in Game 1 of the ALDS. Paxton had a rough start to the season, but turned everything around with a 2.51 ERA in the last two months as soon as he added more breaking balls to his diet.
The Twins have dual aces with Jake Odorizzi (15-7) and Jose Berrios (14-8), but their rotation drops off after that. Their bullpen is anchored by Taylor Rogers (30 saves), and they added Sergio Romo to bolster the back end. Romo pitched lights out down the stretch with a 1.38 ERA.
The Yankees have one of the scariest bullpens in baseball with Adam Ottavino, Tommy Kahnle, Zack Britton, and Aroldis Chapman. Toss in Chad Green as the Yankees reliable “opener”, and the Yanks don’t show any cracks in the pen, and Boone is not afraid to use it at any time in the ALDS.