The Twins have have played 25 of their 34 games against AL Central foes, so they have been able to see where they stand in the division.
Granted, there's tons of baseball left to play. As of right now, the Twins look to be the third-best team in the division with a shot to finish second.
The Royals are not the scrappy, speedy, contact-hitting pests that they used to be. They no longer have a bullpen that can protect leads from the sixth inning on. Alex Gordon is a shell of his former self, making a lot of money for the production he brings. But Kansas City's offense is suspect from top to bottom, so it is not fair to single out one guy. Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas could be dealt at the deadline. Their rotation lacks reliability after Danny Duffy. Raul Mondesi is not ready to be the every day second baseman.
Their window of opportunity has closed.
The Twins just beat the White Sox twice in Chicago. The one thing the White Sox can do is protect leads. It's a quality bullpen anchored by closer David Robertson. Defensively, they give away outs. They run hot and cold offensively. I do think Tim Anderson is going to be a pain in the Twins rear ends for years. But this is a team that could be vastly different after the trade deadline.
Chicago moved Chris Sale and Adam Eaton during the offseason and have stocked their farm system with top end talent that could be in the majors by the end of the season. Chicago has to decide if they want to more Robertson or Jose Quintana for even more prospects. I think the Twins are better than Chicago right now, but the White Sox have some nice pieces coming.
I like the Twins third right now. Their defense is markedly better. The outfield defense is excellent. Byron Buxton is elite. He put on a show this weekend at Progressive Field that had Cleveland fans groaning and players slamming their helmets. "That kid in center is probably still catching something right now," Indians manager Terry Francona said. The offense is functional, but Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer have to start producing more. I was the one agreeing with the Twins and not dealing Dozier for just Jose De Leon. Now he's hitting .237.
My concern with the Twins is the pitching staff. How deep is the rotation? Is the Jose Berrios we saw on Saturday what the Twins are going to get the rest of the season? As much as fans like to kick struggling players to the curb, the Twins need Kyle Gibson to get fixed and get back in the rotation. The relievers have competed well, I'll give them that. But they could use some power arms in the pen
And what will the Twins look like after the trade deadline? If they are on the fringe of the playoffs, should they keep Ervin Santana or trade him for prospects? Could be tricky for the new regime.
Detroit is an interesting team. Its core is getting old but they can still jump up and hang with the best on any given day. But right now, they aren't hitting much. Wow, Miguel Cabrera is batting .238. J.D. Martinez is back, which will help. But their rotation lacks depth and they have a terrible bullpen. It just seems like Cabrera and Verlander will eventually get hot and carry this team. If not, the Twins could challenge them for second.
Cleveland is not playing its best baseball yet, and they are 19-17. That's scary. The lineup will start to produce like it's supposed to, their top six hitters are just too good not to. The bullpen is top notch and the rotation can get on a roll and shut teams down for a month. This is still my pick to return to the World Series. While the Twins took two of three games from them this weekend, they are not ready to stand toe-to-toe with the Indians. No chance.
But the Twins are in a division in which one team is rebuilding, another should be rebuilding and another is watching its superstars age. The Twins have a great chance to finish third, with second place a possibility.