Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Reflection on the Twins 2010 Season

My hope is that everyone is coping with their grief at the loss of the Twins 2010 season. In my post yesterday I wrote about the steps each one of us has to go through at the end of the season (The Stages of Grief at the End of the Season). But the time has come to move past the grief and to reflect on the team and season that was in 2010.

Here are my top 8 headlines from the 2010 Season that are listed, for the most part, in the order in which they occurred (below each headline there are links to posts I wrote throughout the 2010 season about each topic):

1. Joe Nathan's arm injury- This injury impacted much of the 2010 season. The Twins spent the end of Spring Training searching for a closer. Jon Rauch did a very good job in this role for the first half of the season. He did much better than I thought he would do. The Twins spent the second half of the season bolstering their bullpen. By the end of the season the Twins would have three closers on their team with over 20 saves. Matt Capps and Brian Fuentes both were brought in to help fill the void left by Nathan.

2010 Posts about the Twins Closer Role:

2. Joe Mauer's contract and his follow-up to his MVP season- There was a lot of media attention given to the Twins during Spring Training as the team was trying to come to terms with the face of their franchise. Joe Mauer was coming off of his best season of his major league career. Mauer would get his contract for 8-years and $184 million. Mauer would go on to have a very good season. He doesn't have a chance to win the MVP again but it was still well played, Mauer. His power numbers decreased because of the way that balls carry at Target Field. Mauer was on pace for a record amount of doubles for a catcher but being beat-up at the end of the season stopped that pace. At the end of the season he is the best player on the team and he was my pick for the Twins MVP for the 2010 season.

2010 Posts about Joe Mauer:

3. The Opening of Target Field- There has been anticipation of a new stadium from Twins fans for the better portion of a decade. The Opening of Target Field surpassed all of those expectations. It is everything that the Metrodome wasn't. A beautiful outdoor ballpark that had connections to all of Twins Territory. From the statues on Target Plaza to the limestone that graces it's outer shell, there is something for every Twins fan to enjoy. As a fan I couldn't wait to get in the doors. The Season Ticket Holder Open house was my first trip there and I remember being in awe of the entire experience. My buddies and I even had a local TV station follow us around on Opening Day. Target Field will be the focal point of the warehouse district and downtown Minneapolis for decades to come.

2010 Posts about Target Field:

4. Justin Morneau goes from fighting for an MVP to fighting off headaches- For the second straight season Justin Morneau was not in the middle of the Twins line-up for the postseason. Morneau had an amazing start to the season and was in contention to be the MVP of the American League. He was voted starter for the All-Star Game but an accident happened shortly before the game that would keep him out the rest of the season. Morneau's head collided with the knee of the Blue Jays John McDonald. Morneau wouldn't play in a game for the rest of the season. The symptoms never left him. It will be interesting to see if this injury carries over into next season. As a Twins fan I am still worried about him.

2010 Posts about Justin Morneau:

5. Jim Thome hits the ball far...really far- With Morneau's injury there was a hole to fill in the line-up. That hole was filled with the bat of a future hall-of-famer, Jim Thome. For years Thome had been an enemy for the Minnesota Twins, so it was finally nice to see him hitting homeruns for the good guys. Thome seem to be able to hit shots out of Target Field that no one else could. Ron Gardenhire even compared him to a living Babe Ruth this season. There were many memorable moments with Thome this season. He passed Harmon Killebrew on the all-time homerun list. He hit the walk-off extra-inning homerun against the White Sox at Target Field. He hit the top of the flag pole with a shot that seemed like it would never land. He even had a new song written about him. Quite the year for Jim Jam.

2010 Posts about Jim Thome:

6. The emergence of Danny Valencia- The plan for 3rd base in Spring Training was to use both Nick Punto and Brendan Harris. There were injuries and sub-par play from both of these players and this lead to a change. Twins fans have heard a lot about Danny Valencia in recent years. He was always suppose to be the Twins 3rd baseman of the future. In 2010 the future finally came. Danny Valencia burst onto the scene and locked up the 3rd base job for the foreseeable future. He had walk-off hits, big home runs, and played outstanding defense at the hot corner. Overall a very memorable rookie campaign. It will be great to see what he can do next year in a full season of play at the big league level.

2010 Posts about Danny Valencia:

7. Francisco Liriano reemerges as "The Franchise"- The hype surrounding Francisco Liriano last offseason was the fact that he had regained his form in the Dominican Winter League. These rumors turned out to be true. In Spring Training there was a chance that Liriano was going to take on the closer role. Thank goodness that never happened. Liriano quietly became the ace of the staff in 2010. He led the starting staff in ERA and strikeouts. When Liriano was a rookie he was given the nickname "The Franchise." He may be the hope of the franchise as they are searching for an ace at the front of their rotation in the coming years.

2010 Posts about Francisco Liriano:

8. The Race with the White Sox- The White Sox became the rival that the Twins fought with to regain the AL Central Championship. For a major portion of the season either team could have come out on top. In the middle portion of the season the Tigers were also ahead of the Twins. A second half surge pushed the Twins to the top of the pile. The Twins were the superior team and won their sixth division title in the past nine seasons. The Twins had a very good season and ended the year with 94 wins.

2010 Posts about the AL Central Race:

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