A cynic, or at least a skeptic, might point to the Twins’ encouraging 14-12 start with this “yeah, but”: they’ve largely feasted against teams that have struggled, and when they’ve played better teams the results haven’t been great.
The Twins have played 11 games against teams that currently have losing records (Kansas City, Oakland and Texas) and have gone 9-2 in those games. The Twins have also played 15 games against teams that currently have winning records (the White Sox, Tigers and Indians) and are 5-10 in those games.
Of course, at this point in the season those numbers have a certain chicken-egg quality to them. It stands to reason that those opponents would have losing records if so many of their early games were losses to the Twins; same goes for the teams that have winning records and have done better against the Twins. It doesn’t mean they are necessarily bad or good teams. Texas, after all, won 95 games last year. The Royals have played in two of the last three World Series.
Still, the larger point more or less stands: the Twins have looked good against teams who have struggled and have struggled against teams that look good. That’s not to take anything away from their 14-12 start, particularly considering they’ve played more games against teams with winning records than losing records (and because you can only, of course, play the teams on your schedule).
That said, we might also start to get a better idea of just where the Twins stand over the course of the next two weeks. Not only is the bottom of their pitching rotation in flux, but also they are about to begin Friday night against Boston a stretch of 12 consecutive games against teams with winning records: the Red Sox, White Sox, Indians and Rockies.
Boston and Cleveland, in particular, figure to be AL pennant contenders and good tests for the Twins. Minnesota is already 0-3 against Cleveland this year.
If the Twins come out of this 12-game stretch (six at home, six on the road) looking good, it will be further evidence that they just might be better than we thought (and more than just a little better than last year). If not, the cynics/skeptics would be justified in warning us to be cautious with our optimism.