Will Target Field become a part of new ballpark history?

Categories: Sports

Thumbnail image for Target Field Bre.jpg
Photo: Bree McGee
Target Field became just the eighth current ballpark to debut with a playoff club.
Let's get the Twins home.  And keep them here.

The Boys have evidenced a serious pitching malaise in the last week as the club suddenly slouches alongside  cold Tampa and New York in an effort to win home field advantage throughout the A.L. postseason.

After two more versus the Royals, the Twins return to the T.C. to close out the campaign with four games at Target Field against the Blue Jays, before hosting the first two games of the ALDS with the Yanks or Rays.  That has the Boys home for a week straight.  And in this debut season for the new digs: home is where the hope is.

At 52-25, the Twins entered the week tied with New York (AL), Detroit (really), Atlanta and Colorado for the second-most home wins in baseball.  Only Philly, with 54, owned more.  By taking three of four from Toronto (considering their season win rate at home), the Twins would finish the year with a home record of 55-26, which would claim their finest home season since the 1987 club won 56 games at the Metrodome.  

Further evidence of their impact at Target Field can of course be charted via the attendance record set last week -- with 3,063,327 fans this year's turnstiles bested the previous record (from 1988) by more than thirty thousand.  And that's, of course, with four left to play.

But what does a new stadium mean to a club's playoff chances?

Of the 30 current ballparks in MLB, eight teams (including the 2010 Twins) have coronated their new digs with a postseason appearance.  In  chronological order:

1. 1912 Boston Red Sox; Fenway Park
2. 1989 Toronto Blue Jays; Rogers Centre (formerly SkyDome)
3. 1995 Colorado Rockies; Coors Field (strike-shortened season)
4. 1997 Atlanta Braves; Turner Field
5. 2000 San Francisco Giants; AT&T Park (formerly SBC Park and Pacific Bell Park)
6. 2006 St. Louis Cardinals; Busch Stadium III
7. 2009 New York Yankees; New Yankee Stadium
8. 2010 Minnesota Twins; Target Field

Of the eight, three of those teams have made it as far as the World Series -- and all three have won.  The feat was most recently accomplished by the Yanks last season.  Before that, it was the '06 Cardinals.  But prior to St. Louis' wild playoff run to hardware (they went just 83-78 in the regular season) we have to go all the way back to the 1912 Red Sox, who debuted at Fenway with a championship.

Sticking with lists, here's the regular season home win percentages* (from best to worst) for these clubs that extended a ballpark debut to the playoffs:

1. 1912 Red Sox, 57-20 (.740 home win percentage)
2. 2009 New York Yankees, 57-24 (.704)
3. (tied) 2000 San Francisco Giants, 55-26 (.679)
                    2010 Minnesota Twins, 55-26 (.679; *projected)
      5.  1997 Atlanta Braves, 50-31 (.617)
      6.  2006 St. Louis Cardinals, 49-31 (.613)
      7.  2005 Colorado Rockies, 44-28 (.611; strike-shortened)
      8.  1989 Toronto Blue Jays, 46-35 (.568)

Want to add another pill to this dose of playoff enthusiasm?  Here's one more note: from the former list above, five of the final six teams (excluding the '97 Braves) had their parks designed by Populous (formerly, HOK Sport), the same firm that crafted the Twins' new environs.  That, of course, includes the two Series champs.

The buzz for postseason baseball will reach tangible levels in this town once the Boys return from Kansas City.  If you haven't done so yet: close your eyes for two minutes today and give yourself a teaser feel of what Target Field will sound, smell, and feel like when the Twins strive to make new history in just eight days.



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