Will the Twins Ever Exit Their Sisyphean Loop?

Photo Credit: Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports

The 2023 Minnesota Twins are a confusing team. They have been hovering around the .500 mark for most of the season, and yet they have remained in first place virtually all year because nobody else has played well in the AL Central. Despite being a first-place team, many fans and media feel that the Twins are drastically underperforming.

In theory, they should be running away from their division opponents because of the amount of talent they have on the roster. At times, Minnesota has seemed like it was ready to turn the corner and not look back, only to follow that up by dropping a series to a team they should have no trouble with. Last week, they swept the Milwaukee Brewers and then followed that up by losing three of four to the Detroit Tigers at home.

The struggles the Twins have endured are similar to Sisyphus’ eternal burden in Greek mythology. In this myth, Sisyphus is condemned to roll a rock up a hill for eternity. Each time he gets near the top of the hill, it rolls back down, and he has to start over. Minnesota has had multiple points during the month of June where it has seemed like they were going to get to the top of the hill, only to slide back down.

Minnesota started the month by winning two games over the Cleveland Guardians after taking a series over the Houston Astros. But the Twins dropped their next five games following those wins over the Guardians. That five-game losing streak was followed by a road series win over the Toronto Blue Jays and then a two-game sweep at home over the Brewers. Again, it seemed like Minnesota was starting to put things together and set to create some separation in the division race. Instead, they lost five of their next six games.

A tweet from popular baseball Twitter user Jay Cuda gives some more insight into Minnesota’s struggles this year. Cuda posted a graphic showing the MLB standings if April’s results were vacated.

If only May and June counted, the Twins would be in 4th place with a 20-26 record. It’s only a thought experiment, but it shows how the team has struggled to find consistency over the past two months after a solid April. A good first month is important for any team. But it’s crucial for contenders to establish a rhythm over a 162-game season. Minnesota has been up and down in May and June, a major reason why they have not been able to pull away in the AL Central.

Much has been said already about how Minnesota is only in first place because the rest of the division is sub-.500. The Twins would be in fourth place in the AL West and in last place in the AL East. Many have concludedused this information to say that the Twins have been disappointing and that they aren’t a contender. They have looked lackluster at times. But they also have played very competitively against some of baseball’s best teams, having won the season series over the New York Yankees, Astros, and Blue Jays. Sometimes Minnesota looks like they are primed for a deep playoff run, and sometimes it looks like they will miss the playoffs.  The difficult thing about this team is that the fans never know which version of it is going to show up.

The key thing to remember when thinking about Minnesota’s inconsistency is that a team can only play in the division that they are in. It might sound a bit pointless to say that, but the Twins have done just enough this year to remain atop the Central. We have seen glimpses of what they are capable of. If they can stay healthy and start to put together some more complete performances, like the 6-0 win over the Boston Red Sox on Thursday, the Twins could get on the hot streak we have been waiting for.

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