Twins in first place as big draft night arrives
The No. 1 pick in Major League Baseball's draft belongs to the Minnesota Twins, who don't exactly look like a rebuilding project these days.
After losing 103 games last year, the Twins (32-27) are leading the AL Central heading into Monday night's draft. Although there's a long way to go before Minnesota can start making playoff plans, the Twins at least have a shot at accomplishing a rare feat.
Since the draft started in 1965, only one team has had the No. 1 pick and made the postseason in the same year. That was Tampa Bay in 2008, when the Rays went all the way to the World Series.
That postseason run came after Tampa Bay picked first overall in two straight drafts, taking David Price in 2007 and Tim Beckham in 2008. Price actually contributed out of the bullpen during that `08 postseason, earning the save in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series against Boston.
Before the Rays, the 1995 Angels came achingly close to a playoff appearance in the same year they picked Darin Erstad at No. 1. They lost to Seattle in a one-game playoff for the AL West title.
Then there were the 1989 Baltimore Orioles, who picked No. 1 in the draft after losing 107 games the previous season. The Orioles shocked everyone by taking the AL East race all the way down to the final series in Toronto before eventually finishing two games behind the Blue Jays.
Baltimore drafted Ben McDonald with the top pick that year, and the tall right-hander actually made it to the majors that season, pitching six times in relief for the Orioles down the stretch.
It could be a while before Minnesota's top pick makes an impact in the big leagues, but the draft may not be the only highlight of 2017 for the Twins.
Here are a few other developments from around baseball:
CAN YOU TOP THIS?
Craig Kimbrel of the Red Sox and Kenley Jansen of the Dodgers are having quite the cross-country duel to see which closer can put up the most eye-popping statistics. Kimbrel has 55 strikeouts and five walks in 27 2/3 innings, and opponents are batting .086 against him. Jansen, meanwhile, has 43 strikeouts in 26 1/3 innings, and he hasn't walked anybody all year.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK
Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees leads all three Triple Crown categories in the American League with a .345 average, 21 home runs and 47 RBIs. If there's such a thing as the Statcast Triple Crown - and really, why not? - Judge is a contender for that too.
Judge's 495-foot home run Sunday is the longest so far this season. The day before, he hit a homer with an exit velocity of 121.1 mph, also the best in baseball in 2017. The one category he isn't leading in is average exit velocity, where Miguel Sano of Minnesota is setting the pace at 98.4 mph. Judge is second at 96.8.
LINE OF THE WEEK
The line of the year, in all likelihood. Scooter Gennett became the 17th player in major league history to hit four home runs in a game Tuesday night, when he led Cincinnati to a 13-1 win over St. Louis. He had 38 career homers going into the game.
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