Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images
November 21, 2017

We’re in full “where did THAT come from mode?” in this stretch of 2017 underdogs. The Twins were arguably the biggest surprise of the bunch. Start counting the number of teams that went from 103 losses (and the worst record in the majors) to the playoffs in the span of one year. It’s a really short list.

The offense produced multiple surprises, with outfield mates Eddie Rosario and Byron Buxton perhaps the most promising of the bunch. Rosario started the season looking like his usual free-swinging self, batting just .268/.294/.366 at the end of April, with three walks in 86 plate appearances. His batting eye improved substantially as the year wore on, and with it came a power outburst: .293/.334/.533 the rest of the way, with 25 homers and a much lower percentages of swings on pitches outside the zone in the season’s final five months.

Meanwhile Buxton is the most tantalizing player in all of baseball. He’s a Gold Glove-caliber center fielder with mind-blowing speed who merely needs to be decent at the plate to be an All-Star. If he replicates the .314/.359/.553 line we saw from July 4 on, he becomes an instant MVP candidate ... and the leader of a team that could book more champagne celebrations in the next few years.

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