With the All-Star Game in the rear view mirror, it’s time for teams to turn their attention to the second half of the season. If you look at the Minnesota Twins heading into the second half, there isn’t a lot of optimism surrounding the organization. The team was stuck in a lengthy losing period prior to the All-Star break, which has placed them back among the bottom teams in all of baseball. With the odds of the team making a run at the postseason decreasing by the day, many fans have already “mailed it in” for the season and are already looking toward the trading deadline and the future for optimism; however, despite what looks to be another losing season in Minnesota, can 2013 still be considered a success when it’s all said and done?
Heading into the season, many analysts—including this one—predicted the Twins to finish among the worst in all of baseball and instead cautioned fans that 2013 will be a transition year as the team prepares to usher in the next wave of young talent to the majors. Based on the off-season moves—or lack thereof—the team was not positioned to compete in 2013 baring some unforeseen stroke of good luck. Many understood this concept and embraced the situation that the Twins had placed themselves in; yet after the Twins got off to a solid start and hung around .500 for the first few months of the season, fans started to dream of a return to contention and expectations began to change. Unfortunately, those expectations came crumbling down over the past few weeks as the Twins struggled. As a result, fans have become disinterested and disgruntled.
Despite the negative and disinterested feelings surrounding the Twins, there is still a silver lining that many people are missing in regards to the 2013 season: it still can be successful. Based solely on wins and losses, the 2013 season is already at a point where it’d be difficult to consider it a success; however if you look at the strides and improvement that has been made from the start of the season, it is possible to see this season as a success
If you look at all of the young players who are getting valuable experience at the majors from Oswaldo Arcia and Aaron Hicks to Caleb Thielbar and Kyle Gibson, you can see that the Twins have some nice young players coming up through the minors that will help turn this organization around over the next few years when even better prospects like Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano hopefully make it to the majors. The thing to keep in mind is that these players are young and will go through their fair share of growing pains as they learn to acclimate to big-league baseball. To me, if those youngsters can get their learning period out of the way this year—when the team is losing and not expected to contend—and can show signs of improvement from start to finish, it can be considered a successful season. That way, these players are further along in their development when the time comes for the team to contend again and thus, will hopefully not make the same mistakes of a young ballplayer; that in itself, is valuable.
The difficult part of discussing success is that success is such a relative concept; it can mean completely different things to completely different people depending on their perception and values. In professional sports, wins and losses is often the determinant of success; but in terms of the Twins, we knew they were up against a stiff task in 2013 due to their current talent deficiency. With that in mind, and since the Twins are arguably in a better place now—organizationally speaking—than they were at the beginning of the season or at this point last season, how can this season not be considered successful?
It’s alright to have low expectations and high aspirations for the Twins’ in 2013, but a more realistic evaluation would reveal that the Twins aren’t poised to contend for a few years yet. Because of this, fans should temper expectations and redefine what “success” means to this organization. In my opinion, success in 2013 must be determined by improvement with a young team that is built for the future. If fans can approach the season with that mindset, “success” is well within the reach of the Twins. That, Twins’ fans, is something worth watching.