The Twins are primed for a World Series run

They have the lowest team ERA and also the best pitcher in the game, Johan Santana.

Three years ago the Minnesota Twins were on the verge of contraction. Three years and three Central Division Championships later – only the cash-happy Yankees and Braves have won more in a row – they are poised to bring the World Series back to Minnesota for the first time in more than a decade.

The last couple world champions have shown postseason experience is overrated, but it also cannot be overlooked. Any manager would probably prefer a battle-tested team in the playoffs, rather than a bunch of guys entering their first postseason. Guys such as Johan Santana, Torii Hunter, Jacque Jones, Cristian Guzman and Corey Koskie all know what it takes to win and are all in their primes. Throw in a veteran such as Brad Radke and a couple rookie studs, such as Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, and the Twins have the perfect mix for a championship team.

Granted, the Twins, or any other team, might have problems beating the juggernaut Cardinals in the World Series, but winning the American League is very, very possible. All of the media attention will be on a potential Yankees and Red Sox match-up, which will give the Twins the advantage to be more relaxed and not have added pressure.

The race to win the West looks as if it will come down to the last weekend, and whether it is the Athletics, Angels or Rangers that win it, they will have used everything just to get into the postseason. The Twins were the first team in the AL to clinch a playoff berth, giving them the advantage of having everyone rested and healthy come the opening round.

However, the key element any team must have to win in the postseason is pitching. The Twins again have the advantage over all the AL teams. Not only do they have the lowest team ERA in the AL, they also have the best pitcher in the game, Johan Santana.

Santana, a Cy Young favorite, leads the league in strikeouts, ERA and hasn’t lost since the All-Star break. Facing him twice in a five-game series, or three times in a seven-game series can ruin a team’s postseason dreams. They also have one of the best closers in the game right now in Joe Nathan. All Nathan has done this year is place third in the AL in saves and have the lowest ERA of any AL closer.

The Yankees can’t even buy pitching right now, and the “Big Three” in Oakland have struggled since the All-Star break. The Red Sox could match the Twins in pitching, but the curse will find a way to make New Englanders cry and moan for yet another season.

The Marlins won the World Series last year because of pitching, but also because of great defense, speed and team chemistry, all important components that make up this year’s Twins. They rank among the league leaders in fielding percentage, fewest errors committed and stolen bases. As for chemistry, the core of this team has been together for years, proving a team without a huge payroll can be successful.

With everything that is good about the Twins, it will be hard for anyone not to jump on their bandwagon. Amid all of the controversy surrounding steroids in baseball, the Twins do not even field a player who has more than 30 home runs. They are an exciting, small-market team of Davids ready to topple the Goliaths of Boston and New York. They play as the grizzled veterans they are.

Not many people are expecting them to go far in the playoffs, but those are the same people who wrote-off the two previous World Champions, the Angels and the Marlins. As the old saying goes, “Third time’s a charm.”

Adam Somers is a guest columnist. He welcomes comments at [email protected]