The Twins are halfway through the 2017 season and Paul Molitor's club is still exceeding expectations.
At 42-40 heading into Tuesday, they're light-years ahead of the 2016 team that finished with the worst record in baseball. The Twins last season didn't pick up their 42nd win until Aug. 2, when they were already 20 games under .500.
If the playoffs began today, the Twins would be in the American League Wild Card game – and it certainly would be wild considering there are four teams vying for those two spots right now.
What's worked this season?
It's no secret that the Twins' offense has carried them. Their patience at the plate has been impressive, as they've drawn the second most walks in the American League.
Miguel Sano turned a disappointing sophomore season into an All-Star selection in 2017. Entering play on Monday, Sano is second in RBI and among the top 10 AL leaders in home runs, slugging percentage and walks. Toss in solid showings by Brian Dozier, Max Kepler and Robbie Grossman and Minnesota has a lineup that can keep up with just about anybody.
Starting pitcher Ervin Santana will join Sano at the All-Star Game. He's been money on the mound.
Finally, the Twins' defense has been one of the best in the league – only Tampa Bay has saved more runs in the field.
What hasn't worked?
Thank goodness the Twins made improvements on the defensive side, because outside of Santana and Jose Berrios, they're pitching has been putrid.
Then there's Byron Buxton, whose defense has kept him in the lineup for the majority of the season. But he has yet to turn the corner at the plate. The center fielder is hitting .195 this year and through 216 career games, Buxton has a career batting average of just .211. (Buxton is still just 23 years old though so he has time to figure it out.)
Can they keep it up?
Although the offense has been resilient this season, the Twins will have to address their pitching if they want to compete further into 2017.
Minnesota's new front office regime of Derek Falvey and Thad LaVine will face some tough decisions soon.
The MLB trade deadline is July 31. Will they make a splash at the deadline to try to improve things? Or will they keep things in house, call up some players from the minors to bandage their wounds?
We'll have to wait and see. But regardless, this year's Twins team has been a breath of fresh air in 2017.