The Runner Sports

Twins Are Now Officially Legitimate Contenders

With their 17-0 win over the Kansas City Royals on Saturday night, the Minnesota Twins stayed exactly where they were in the standings. That’s not especially noteworthy, but the win still pushed the team into previously unexplored territory.

But before we get too far into that, let’s take a moment to appreciate the fact that it was a 17-0 win. 17-0! The most lopsided shutout in the history of the Minnesota Twins. And it wasn’t just filled with 17 runs. Kyle Gibson continued to pitch wonderfully with only five hits and no walks allowed in six shutout innings. Byron Buxton recorded the fastest triple of 2017. Eduardo Escobar hit two home runs, and joined Buxton, Eddie Rosario, and Jorge Polanco on the list of multi-homer games in the past week.

There is plenty more to mention, but it’s time to talk about what this game means. With the 17 run advantage, the Twins moved their season run differential into the positives for the first time since April.

Run differential, in case you’re confused, is the total number of runs a team has scored minus the total number of runs allowed. If that number is in the negative, it means that you have given up more runs than you’ve scored. And that concept means something to the creators and custodians of many advanced baseball statistics. There’s a deeper explanation here, but essentially it means that a team with a negative run differential should have a losing record, and that the bigger the run differential, the further the record should be from .500.

So with the Twins finally having scored more runs than they have allowed-their run differential sits at +1 following Saturday’s domination-it is that much harder for stat heads to call the Twins “lucky” or “undeserving.” As a fan base, Minnesota is always looking for respect in the grand scheme of sports, and this is one step in the right direction.

I mentioned earlier that the Twins position in the standings barely changed last night, as the Angels and Yankees, the two most serious competitors in the playoff race, both won. The Orioles did lose a game and now sit 2.5 back of the Twins, while the Rays fell to 4 games back, and the Royals 4.5. So not much serious change, except for one thing: the end of the season is one day closer. Even if the Twins maintain a slim lead, the slim lead looks bigger when there are fewer games in which to erase it. We are so close to the end of the season in fact, that the good people over at FanGraphs have the Twins at a 47.8% chance of making the playoffs.

Being above 50% would obviously feel better, but being 2.2 percentage points short of that feels pretty darn good. One way that that number can jump up is if the Yankees decided to lose on a day when the Twins win. If that happens to be Sunday, the Twins would enter the next week tied for first place in the Wild Card race, which makes the odds of playoff baseball that much greater.

Regardless, it is a good day when your favorite team wins 17-0. And it’s a good season when your team is contending and playing respectable baseball in September.

Charlie Gillmer

Charlie Gillmer

Charlie Gillmer is a lifelong Twins fan who spends most nights dreaming of learning a knuckleball and pitching them to a World Series victory.
Charlie Gillmer

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