In case you’ve forgotten in the midst of the general misery from 2011-present, the Twins have actually gotten off to decent starts more than once. In fact, this year’s 15-14 record — which most people would agree is at least decent — marks the fourth time in the past five seasons the Twins have had a winning record at some point in May.
In 2013, the Twins were 18-17 after a victory on May 13.
In 2014, the Twins were 23-21 after a victory on May 21.
In 2015, the Twins were 20-7 during May and finished the month with a 30-19 overall record.
In 2016 … yeah, let’s not talk about that.
But yes, with the Twins in recent years it’s more often been a question of how they finished, not how they started. Fans have been cautiously optimistic before, only to see those hopes dashed quickly.
So the question after another reasonable start in 2017 is: that’s nice, but where is it all leading? Again, let’s look at the comparisons:
In 2013, the Twins were 36-42 from April-June and 30-54 afterwards and ended up 66-96.
In 2014, the Twins were 37-44 through the end of June and 33-48 after for a 70-92 finish.
In 2015, the Twins were 41-36 through the end of June and 42-43 the rest of the way for a 83-79 finish.
Basically there is one season (2013) that turned from optimism into a hot mess. There was one season (2014) that never felt truly hopeless but evolved into a slow fade. And there was one season when the Twins managed to sustain their decent play for a full 162 games (even if their 20-7 month of May was a big factor).
When the Twins have faded after an OK start, pitching has tended to be a culprit. That’s worrisome considering the cracks shown recently in both the rotation and the bullpen.
That said, these 2017 Twins do seem to have more talent and certainly better defense than some of the 90-loss teams that preceded them. The best guess, still, is that this year’s team will wind up somewhere between the 70-win team of three years ago and the 83-win team of two years ago. Whichever team this year’s version most closely emulates will go a long way toward determining how we end up viewing 2017.