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Twins and White Sox: Tale of two surprises

The Minnesota Twins and the Chicago White Sox. One of these teams was supposed to be the worst in the American League. The other was projected to perhaps win the American League Central and make some noise in the playoffs. As it turns it, that is exactly how it is playing out, although to the dismay of those in the Windy City, the roles have been reversed.

Minnesota is sitting second in the AL Central behind the Kansas City Royals, the team with the best record in the junior circuit. The Twins are being guided by Hall of Famer and first-year manager Paul Molitor, who spent the twilight of his career in the Twin Cities. Molitor has infused a winning attitude on a franchise that had been down for so many years, and suddenly sees his club in contention.

At 51-44 going into Friday night’s action, it does not appear Minnesota is going away any time soon. The Twins are six games back of the Royals, and while catching the defending American League champions seems like a lofty goal, it is anything but a stretch to see this team in the Wild Card game come October.

The offense has been spotty, but the Twins are getting production from a triumvirate of Torii Hunter, Trevor Plouffe and Brian Dozier. The trio have combined to hit 47 home runs with 155 RBI, otherwise known as a really mediocre season for Barry Bonds when he was allegedly roided up to the hilt.

Meanwhile, everything has fallen apart for the White Sox. During the offseason, the front office was incredibly aggressive, trading with the Oakland Athletics to land ace starting pitcher, Jeff Samardzija. The former Notre Dame Fighting Irish wide receiver was supposed to team with Chris Sale and form a dynamic one-two punch that would dominate the AL. Instead, the White Sox are sitting in last place of the Central at 44-50, a half-game worse than the equally disappointing Cleveland Indians.

Offensively, first baseman Jose Abreu would be the only player you could classify as very good throughout the Chicago lineup. Abreu is leading the team in average, home runs and RBI with a .287 clip, 15 blasts and 49 RBI. Abreu is also leading the lifeless White Sox in hits and on-base percentage.

Chicago signed Adam LaRoche in the offseason with hopes that he could provide protection for Abreu, but LaRoche has been one of the worst hitters in baseball. The veteran who came over via free agency from the Washington Nationals is hitting .215 with nine homers and 33 RBI.

Ultimately, these two teams prove that preseason predictions and power rankings are utterly useless. The only thing that matters is getting out on the field and performing, a feat only one of these clubs has managed to achieve.

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