That was certainly a rough ending.
After an incredibly exciting season, the Minnesota Twins flamed out in the postseason and were thoroughly outclassed in a three-game sweep to the New York Yankees in the division series.
Despite that, I haven’t had this much fun following the Twins in a long, long time.
After nearly a decade of fairly disappointing seasons - including four straight with 90-plus losses and one with more than 100 - the Twins signed a new coach and a handful of new players, then proceeded to have the second best regular season record in team history and hit 50 more home runs than any team had before.
That ending was no fun at all, but the journey to that point was all kinds of fun.
With the exception of 2017, when the Twins finished second in the division and snuck into the postseason before exiting just as quickly, this decade has been rather frustrating for Minnesota baseball fans.
One coaching change and medium-sized roster shakeup later, and the Twins rattled off 100 wins for the first time since 1965.
In my lifetime, the Twins in their heyday (2002-2010, keeping in mind that I was 3 years old the last time they won the World Series) were nicknamed the “piranhas” because of their small-ball style of play that saw them chip away at their opponent - base hit after base hit - for the victory.
During that time, guys like Torii Hunter and Justin Morneau would get some home runs, the team’s best hitter was Joe Mauer, who topped 25 home runs just once in his possibly hall-of-fame career. The rest of the team relied on singles and doubles, foot speed and smart base running to win a lot of close games.
Being used to that type of quality Twins roster, imagine my surprise when the 2019 Twins had 11 guys on the roster with 10 or more dingers, eight with 20 or more and a league-record five with 30 or more.
Topping all of that was veteran signee Nelson Cruz, who hit 41 home runs at the age of 39 - older than Coach Rocco Baldelli. What makes this even more impressive to me was that Cruz missed 42 games, meaning he had a homer every three games.
Not only that, but Max Kepler, Eddie Rosario and Miguel Sano had big seasons. In Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi, the Twins had maybe their best one-two punch at starting pitcher since Johan Santana and Francisco Liriano, and catcher Mitch Garver grew into perhaps the best player in the league that no one has heard of outside of Minnesota.
Prior to the season starting, the league record for home runs by a team in a given season was 267. The Twins hit 307.
The Yankees were neck-and-neck with us this year, hitting 306 homers, but it’s the lowly, small-market Twins that will go into the record books as the greatest power-hitting team ever.
As a whole, the team scored 185 more runs that its opponents - a major but welcome shift from the team’s “piranha” days.
Yet because of the way the season ended, I feel like some fans are fairly negative of the season as a whole and that the Twins were mediocre, but in reality this was the least mediocre team to call Target Field home since … well, since Target Field was built.
Obviously, I want to see this team get back to a World Series. Heck, I would settle for getting to the second round of the playoffs, which they haven’t done since 2002.
So yes, it was a bitter way for the season to end, but let’s not forget that, from April to October, this team was a lot of fun to watch.