This might be a strange and almost unfair question considering one team did a complete 180-degree turn in the midst of its season and the other has yet to play a game at all, but we'll still throw it out there because, frankly, we'd like to forget about the two hours we wasted on Gophers basketball last night and just move on.
So: 2006 Twins vs. 2010 Twins. Who ya like?
As in, we've made the determination that of the Twins teams since their turnaround in 2001, those appear to be the two best. That might seem like a bold statement considering, again, that the 2010 version hasn't played a game yet and that we've eliminated four AL Central champs (2002, 2003, 2004 and 2009) from contention. If you have a point of contention about any of those teams being unfairly excluded from the conversation, we can come back to it. The way we see it: 2006 was the best of that mini-era of Twins teams, which has fairly seamlessly and impressively transitioned into a new era (with some key holdovers), of which this 2010 squad looks most impressive on paper.
That said, we are comparing production vs. potential. The 2006 squad had the batting champ, the MVP and the Cy Young as well as a stretch of dominance from Francisco Liriano that still remains tantalizing in terms of what might have been that postseason and beyond had he not been hurt. The team also had an overpowering Joe Nathan (a whip of 0.79? That's crazy), as well as the emergence of Pat Neshek and a still-functional Juan Rincon. That said, Juan Castro and Tony Batista started the season on the left side of the infield, and even at their peak the lineup and rotation had more holes than either project to have this year.
This year's team doesn't have the surefire ace, but it has more starting pitching depth and still the potential of Liriano returning to top-of-the-rotation form. The bullpen is still good, though probably not as good. The lineup, though, has to be the Twins' best, top to bottom since ... well ... maybe there is no qualifier. Maybe it's just their best ever. It's one of the best in the league. Fielding is probably a wash, especially if Nick Punto plays third and bats ninth more often than not. (Remember: Torii Hunter was here in 2006, but so was Lew Ford).
So how about it: Best Twins team of the past 10 years. Based on potential, can you say we're looking at it with this 2010 version? Does that 2006 team still rate higher? Would you rather talk about the train wreck at Williams Arena? You have the floor.