In an attempt to explain how the Twins not only have gone from 59-103 a year ago but also from 50-54 and left for dead six weeks ago to the spot they're in now, this thought keeps coming to the forefront: The Twins have received huge in-season turnarounds from a whole bunch of players — several of whom the Twins had no realistic reason to expect would do this.
Here are seven players who were having disappointing seasons in one form or another who have all changed the narrative recently to be some of the Twins' biggest success stories (all statistics are entering play Thursday):
• Eddie Rosario: The 25-year-old outfielder had a dreadful start to the season. By mid-June, even after some slight improvement, he was a bottom-of-the-order hitter with an OPS sitting at .676. It was fair to wonder if he was ever going to figure things out, even as talented as he is. But he's found a way to stay aggressive while adding an element of patience to his plate appearances, and the results have followed. Rosario has 12 home runs and 35 RBI in 40 games since Aug. 2 as the Twins have surged.
• Joe Mauer: Like Rosario, Mauer had a dreadful start to this season, finishing April with a .225 batting average and .546 OPS. He fought his way back to numbers consistent with what he's been delivering in recent years — average in the .270s, not much power — which was better than his start but still subpar for a first baseman. But from Aug. 10 until now, Mauer has raised his average from .268 to .306 by going 51- for-124 (.411) in that stretch and looks as close to the Mauer of old as we've seen in several years.
• Brian Dozier: He was hitting .242 with 17 home runs Aug. 3, right about the time the Twins turned things around. Since then, he has 13 home runs, a .404 on-base percentage and a 1.017 OPS. He's also scored 37 runs in his past 39 games.
• Jorge Polanco: This might be the most stunning turnaround of all. Polanco's batting average was all the way down to .213 at the end of an awful July, and he had become at least temporarily a part-time player. But since the start of August? Polanco is hitting .350 with eight home runs and a massive 1.045 OPS.
• Byron Buxton: At the start of this Twins surge, Buxton was hitting .219. He was worth having in the lineup for his otherworldly defense, but he was a liability at the plate — again. Since Aug. 2, Buxton is hitting .308 with a .943 OPS.
• Kyle Gibson: The righthander had slowly been working his way back to respectability after an awful start and demotion to Class AAA, but entering August his ERA still sat at 6.08. But seemingly out of nowhere, he's delivered five consecutive starts of at least six innings with two runs or fewer allowed, and the Twins have won all five of those games.
• Matt Belisle: His ERA in mid-June was a dreadful 8.59. But he didn't allow an earned run in any of his 11 July appearances. When the Twins traded closer Brandon Kintzler at the end of July, Belisle more or less took over that role. Since then, he's converted seven of eight save chances with a 2.84 ERA. He got the win Wednesday after getting five big outs.
Add it up, and it's a pretty stark turnaround. It's not like the seven players above were incapable of this, but for all of them to do it at once after the way their seasons were going? It's pretty amazing.