Here are three reasons the Yankees should be scared of the Twins in the 2020 playoffs.
Stop us if you’ve heard this before, Yankees fans, but New York has a really strong chance of facing off against the Minnesota Twins the playoffs. Of course, this matchup has presented itself six times in total, including twice in the past three seasons, and to say the Yankees have had the AL Central club’s number on baseball’s biggest stage would be an understatement.
In those series/Wild Card tilts, the Twins have won just two games. Fans in the Bronx will remember their most recent meeting in 2019, when manager Aaron Boone’s side disposed of the Bomba Squad in a three-game sweep, despite most of us believing it would finally be the year this thing would be close.
It wasn’t just that the Yankees swept Minnesota, either. Teams get swept all the time in highly competitive series. What was so alarming, however, was how one-sided the matchup was yet again. New York outscored the Twins 23-7 and no game was closer than a four-run differential.
However, we don’t think it’s going to be that simple for the Yankees this time around. Not only have their flaws been on display more often than usual in 2020, but the Twins, thanks to a slew of offseason additions, are clearly a more well-rounded team compared to last year.
With this in mind, let’s highlight a few reasons as to why the Yankees should be scared of the reigning AL Central champs in a potential playoff matchup.
3. Yankees’ Suspect Defense (Especially on Road)
The Yankees have been one of the worst defensive teams in MLB this season.
The old adage “defense wins championships” doesn’t entirely correlate to baseball, but it’s still extremely important, and right now, the Yankees are one of the weakest defensive teams in the league.
Coming into Wednesday night’s tilt against Toronto, the club ranked 28th with a .979 fielding percentage and third with 38 total errors. Their ranking in those statistical categories likely worsened after New York’s shambolic defensive showing in which they made four errors in a 14-1 drubbing at the hands of the Blue Jays.
You might say the Yankees are already in cruise control after clinching a playoff berth, but they still have home-field advantage to play for. Sure, that doesn’t mean as much with no fans in attendance, but wouldn’t playing in the Bronx be more ideal than playing at the unfamiliar dimensions of Target Field? No doubt.
If the Yankees aren’t able to catch Minnesota over the closing stretch — they’re 2.5 games behind them with four games remaining — they’ll be playing the ENTIRETY of the Wild Card round, which is a best of three series, on the road before the remaining teams enter the playoff bubble.
The Twins are a middle of the road team when it comes to strikeout percentage (they rank 13th), but that isn’t nearly concerning enough for the Yankees defensive struggles to be protected against them. This team still puts the ball in play. And after what the Yanks showed in cold conditions in an unfamiliar road setting on Wednesday, allow us to remind you of these respective teams’ home and away records in 2020.
Twins at home: 23-5. Yankees on the road: 11-17.
Of course, that’ll be an issue for the Yanks no matter who they play, but if you think the extremely confident Twins team won’t put defensive pressure on the Yankees in a windy Target Field, then you might want to reassess. Not great.