The Twins set the major league record with 307 home runs in 2019. They finished second among the 30 teams with 939 runs. They finished at 101-61, one win shy of the Minnesota record set at 102-60 by the 1965 American League champions.
The 101 wins were worth only third in AL seeding, thus sending the Twins to the Bronx to play the 103-win Yankees.
The result was an epic postseason mismatch, even by the Twins' lofty standards in that category. The final scores in the Yankees sweep were 10-4, 8-2 and 5-1.
Rousing playoff flop though it was, the 101-win, run-scoring bonanza did leave objective Twins followers with this thought:
Baseball boss Derek Falvey, GM Thad Levine and the rest of this now-overstuffed operation that took over in November 2016 might know what they are doing after all.
Meaning, the Pohlads might see a payoff for all these millions added to the baseball operation to compare with 2002 to 2010, and six division titles.
Three years later, I'm somewhat skeptical. Even if the White Sox don't get their act together, and the Twins stumble to the Central title with 84 wins, the view here will remain this:
Falvey, Levine and co. have done some strange things since being left in the muck by the Yankees in early October 2019. For instance:
• Kyle Gibson was solid for the Twins in the 2019 season of the atomized baseball, making 29 starts and winning 13 games.
The need for starting pitching remained strong. Yet the Twins' response to hitting more home runs than any team not playing slow-pitch softball was to give a team-record four-year, $92 million contract to Josh Donaldson, a 34-year-old power hitter with an injury history.
Donaldson played only 28 of 60 games in the division-winning mini-season in 2020. He played regularly in the last-place, full season of 2021. The Twins jumped at the chance to get out of the last two years of his deal by trading him to the Yankees in March.
They had to trade Mitch Garver to Texas to get the Yankees a shortstop (Isiah Kiner-Falefa) to get rid of Donaldson, but getting Gio Urshela to play third and Gary Sanchez to catch and DH has worked out.
Still, giving a record free-agent contract to a power hitter when the team strength is power hitting … that was 4 out of 5 on the strange meter.
• The Twins doubled down on the idea home runs would be all that mattered in the future of run-scoring when the pandemic-reduced, five-round draft was held in June 2020.
The first-rounder was Aaron Sabato, a college power hitter from North Carolina without a real position. He will be 23 next month, strikes out often and is batting .184 at Class A Cedar Rapids.
A faux Miguel Sano. Splendid.
• The Twins made an excellent move to add a veteran starting pitcher — Kenta Maeda from the Dodgers — on Feb. 10, 2020. He was outstanding in leading the Twins to a division-winning 36-24 record in the shortened season, then blew out his elbow in 2021 and is now rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.
The Twins took the plunge again for a valid starting pitcher in trading first-round draft pick Chase Petty to Cincinnati for Sonny Gray in mid-March.
Beyond that, it has been a procession of failed veterans since 2019: Homer Bailey (two games), Rich Hill (still rehabbing when signed), J.A. Happ, Matt Shoemaker — and now with Chris Archer and Dylan Bundy, two more long shots to fill those gaps.
• And strangest of all: The Twins traded their best reliever, the lefthanded Taylor Rogers, to San Diego and tossed in $6.5 million to even out the salaries right before the season opener this April. Rogers leads the majors in saves with 16 and has given up one earned run.
In return, Chris Paddack made five so-so starts before the right elbow that was being treated last fall failed him. He underwent a second Tommy John surgery early last week and now the Twins can guide his yearlong rehab.
They also have Emilio Pagan, the semi-closer who doesn't make Twins watchers sweat until you see him warming up.
And if the Twins had thrown the $6.5 million on top of a legit offer to Rogers, they could have kept him, or waited until the July trade deadline and actually received something close to value.
First place for now, but the Falvey fellas still have been strange.