Updated RB Rankings
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We have a new number one this week and we’ll get to that — I covered them in this space last week anyway — but probably the biggest news of the week would be the hot streaks of three teams in particular. Two of them sit in the top five in the Yankees and Angels. Let’s do a quick dive into the other big mover of the week.
Just a week ago, the American League Central didn’t have a single team above .500. Sure, there’s always bound to be some small-sample funkiness here in the early going, but every other division had at least one team at least four games over .500 already. The Padres were 10-7 and in fourth place!
The AL Central still appears to be the worst division in baseball and I expect that to be the case all season, but there has been one team emerging through the dregs. We probably can drop derogatory phrases like, “it’s a race to 83 wins!” because the Minnesota Twins are now 13-9, which is a full season pace of 96 wins. That movement is thanks to a recent surge in which the Twins have won nine of their last 10 games.
They have the ingredients of a team with staying power, too.
The rotation was a concern heading into the season and even looked like a bit of a patchwork job, but it has been so good. Twins starters have combined for a 2.62 ERA to this point and that’s with one of their big-ticket offseason acquisitions, Sonny Gray, on the injured list. They even had to put Bailey Ober (2.75 ERA in four starts) on the IL before Sunday and fill-in Josh Winder threw six scoreless innings. The Twins have gotten good work from Chris Archer, Chris Paddack and Dylan Bundy while Joe Ryan looks like a Cy Young candidate.
The bullpen would be the weak spot, but it’s plenty adequate here in the short term. Jhoan Duran has stuff about as electric as anyone in baseball and let’s keep in mind relievers are easily the most traded position each July. With as aggressive as the front office was last offseason, you can bet they’ll be just as aggressive in shoring up the bullpen this summer.
Speaking of the front office being aggressive, the biggest move of the offseason was the surprise swoop-in signing of Carlos Correa. He got off to a slow start, but he’s settling in now and looks every bit like the MVP he’s capable of being. In his last four games, Correa is 10 for 18 with five RBI and five runs.
In terms of any MVP discussion, though, it starts with Byron Buxton as long as he stays on the field a decent percentage of time. We — I’m speaking of all baseball fans, because he’s a treat for all of us — had a scare in Boston, but Buxton returned just a few days later and he’s still cooking. In 14 games, he’s hitting .283/.345/.755 with four doubles, seven home runs, 12 RBI and 13 runs along with his usual amazing defense and baserunning.
While Max Kepler and Luis Arraez deserve to be highlighted for their excellent offensive work among supporting cast members, the Twins’ offense as a whole really is capable of better than it has shown (what if Miguel Sanó and Gary Sánchez find their power stroke, for example?).
Simply, things are going pretty well in Minnesota right now, and there’s reason for optimism on it being a strong 2022 season. They move up five spots below and into the top 10, just two weeks after languishing in the 20s.
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