MINNEAPOLIS -- After losing a Major League-worst 103 games last season, nobody expected the Twins to make it to the postseason in 2017.
But they're one of 10 teams set to play in October, and they're ready to continue to prove their doubters wrong. A run to the World Series would undoubtedly be an incredibly difficult feat as the second American League Wild Card team, given they have the worst record of any club in the playoffs, but Twins fans remember 1987, when the club won 85 games but won the World Series with plenty of postseason magic.
As history suggests, anything can happen in the postseason, so here's a look at three reasons why the Twins could continue to shock the baseball world with a World Series title:
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1. The offense has been clicking
The Twins have the youngest offense in the AL, but that young core got better as the season went on, posting impressive numbers in the second half. Minnesota leads the Majors in runs scored since the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, and also leads the big leagues in homers over that span.
The offense is well balanced with power, speed and patience sprinkled throughout the lineup, especially with the breakout seasons of Byron Buxton, Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler. Veterans James Dozier and Joe Mauer also had strong seasons, while designated hitter Robbie Grossman remains underrated because of his ability to get on base. The Twins reinstated Miguel Sano from the DL on Friday, and he could provide a similiar lift to the Cubs' Kyle Schwarber, who came back from a knee injury last year to hit .412 in the World Series against the Indians.
2. There's just enough pitching
The Twins still lack pitching depth, but they have veteran Ervin Santana to anchor their rotation, while Kyle Gibson has been consistently solid in the second half and Jose Berrios has been impressive after struggling as a rookie last year. Finding a quality fourth starter is likely going to be an issue, which means they could turn to Gibson or Santana on short rest.
It also means the bullpen will need to step up and get strong performances from some young arms such as Trevor Hildenberger, Taylor Rogers and Alan Busenitz. Closer Matt Belisle has been huge since Minnesota dealt Brandon Kintzler at the Trade Deadline, while Thomas Pressly and Rogers have been pitching better after some scuffles. Long reliever Dillon Gee has also been effective in that role, and he could be a multi-inning swingman.
3. Similar clubs have accomplished the feat
The road to the World Series would be a tough one for Minnesota, which must first conquer its demons in New York (2-4 record vs. the Yankees this season) in the AL Wild Card Game at Yankee Stadium. The Twins then would advance to the AL Division Series presented by Doosan to play the Indians, who the Twins have played tough in recent years, although they were 7-12 vs. them this season. The AL Championship Series presented by Camping World would feature the Astros or Red Sox before heading to the Fall Classic.
On paper, Minnesota doesn't match up well against those high-powered clubs, but the playoffs have proved to be somewhat of a crapshoot, as the team with the best record doesn't always win. We've seen unlikely clubs such as the 1987 Twins, '88 Dodgers, '97 Marlins and the 2006 Cardinals win the World Series, so why not the Twins?