Followers of the Twins are making assumptions based on the past while simultaneously looking six months into the future, leaving the Twins at an interesting point in their present trajectory as the season gets underway Thursday in Milwaukee.
We think we know based on the last two seasons that the Twins will be very good again. After all, they won 101 games in 2019 and were on a 97-win pace over the COVID-shortened 2020 season. Both years ended in AL Central titles.
Both also, of course, ended in hasty playoff exits without so much as a single-game victory, extending their historic run of playoff ineptitude to 18 consecutive losses dating back to 2004.
On Thursday's Daily Delivery podcast, La Velle E. Neal III and I previewed the season and made some predictions about individual players — who will lead the Twins in home runs, saves, OPS, defensive runs saved, those types of things. Special bonus: La Velle busted out his Patrick Reusse impersonation.
If you don't see the podcast player, click here to listen.
The sum total of all those individual accomplishments will help tell the story of the season, but the overall narrative goes something like this:
Getting to the postseason won't be easy for this year's Twins. Unlike last year, when eight teams in each league made it, we're back to the three division winners and two wild cards in both the American and National leagues.
While projection systems like PECOTA like the Twins to win a third consecutive division title with relative ease, many of us think it will be a tighter race because a lot can happen over 162 games. The White Sox are improved. Cleveland can still pitch.
We're assuming the Twins will continue on the path they have been on for good reason, but it's not as automatic as it might seem.
And on the flip side, as Phil Miller noted on a different recent Daily Delivery podcast, there are very few Twins fans that will be impressed simply with another playoff trip if it is as empty as the ones in 2006, 2009, 2010, 2017, 2019 and 2020.
So you have a regular season that starts Thursday. And I'm sure fans will find numerous ways to enjoy it. The return of in-person attendance ... the full 162 games ... the idea of seeing new players ... there is plenty about which to be excited.
But really: winning is all that matters.
And in the big picture, you have a fan base that is already in some ways fast-forwarding half a year to the only thing that really matters, even while the process of getting there should be considered anything but automatic.
That should make the dynamic in 2021 as interesting as it is fun.