Why the Twins have the Central Division exactly where they want it


The Minnesota Twins lost again — embarrassingly lost — this afternoon and their fans are on the ledge, looking down.

Just look at some of these comments from the Star Tribune Twins blog after the team said today that Joe Mauer wasn’t ready to play at the end of spring training:

“Mauer is a bum. All that money, and he was able to do commercials, and NOT getting ready for his $23 million a year job.”

“Mr. ‘Take the Money and RUN’ Mauer. How someone making $184 million can not get himself in shape to play baseball is absolutely pathetic.”

“Wow Twins, Welcome to loserville, USA”

It didn’t matter if the Vikings choked, the Wolves were putrid, the Gophers self destructed, and the Wild underperformed. We always had the Twins to keep us from being losers. And by we, I mean you, Minnesota.

But here we are and all is lost. The team is 9-14. When do the Lynx start?

Granted, this is not a good situation, but I’ve been playing with history a bit today in search of a silver lining. Come in off the ledge, and let’s talk about this. Here are a few nuggets from today’s research:

** Over the last six seasons, the Twins have had losing records on this date in four of the seasons (including this one). In two of the three (throwing out this season), they won the AL Central Division. In the one year they didn’t — 2008 — they won 88 games and lost the division to the dastardly White Sox by only 1 game.

** In the last decade, the average record on this date of the team that went on to win the Central Division title is just 13 wins and 10 losses. Only four games better than the Twins are now. Not great, but not that big a difference.

** In the 16 seasons since the AL Central was created (throwing out the strike shortened 1995 season), the team with the best record in the division on this date, went on to win the division (or, in the case of strike-shortened 1994, lead the division at the end of the season) 9 times.

** The three most talented teams in the division are clearly Minnesota, Chicago, and Detroit. All three have losing records at the moment.

That’s not to say there aren’t historical lessons that confirm that things really are as bad as Twins fans think they are.

** The Cleveland Indians are fairly far ahead of the Twins at the moment and if they win tonight, it will be Cleveland’s 16th win of the year. Only once has a team winning 16 games by April 28 not gone on to win the AL Central Division. It was the 2000 Minnesota Twins.

** Only three teams from the AL Central have ever made it to the World Series. Only one — the White Sox — won. In 2005, they had 16 wins on this date. Of the two losing teams, neither had a winning record on this date (Cleveland 11-12 in 1997 and 1-1 in 1995).

It’s true the pitching is weak, the team’s best player doesn’t play, there are too many injured players, the best closer in baseball is saying “no mas,” and the team isn’t built well for the stadium they have to play in.

But if I’m the one providing the hope and optimism for you, you’ve got far bigger problems than any of those, Twins fans.