Houston Astros, Minnesota Twins, MLB

How Carlos Correa brought Astros championship culture to Minnesota

Carlos Correa moved on from the Houston Astros after the 2021 season, but he has brought his winning ways to the Minnesota Twins

Before the 2015 season, the Houston Astros had played a total of 53 seasons. They only made the playoffs nine times and appeared in the World Series once. That appearance came in 2005 but they were quickly dispatched by the Chicago White Sox in a four-game sweep.

But since 2015, the Astros have made the playoffs six times and been to three World Series, winning their first and only World Series title in 2017. All six of those playoff appearances came with Carlos Correa being a huge anchor on the team.

The Astros hadn’t even finished above .500 since 2008, so when they had the first-overall pick in the 2012 Draft, they drafted Correa at the age of 17. He made his MLB debut three years later in June 2015 and they still were looking to reach .500 for the first time since 2008.

Correa ushered in the winningest period in Astros history but as with all good things, they must come to an end. While Houston is still the best team in the AL West, they are without Correa.

Instead, the Minnesota Twins shocked the baseball world this offseason when they signed Correa to a three-year deal for $105.3 million with an opt-out after each season.

Unlike Houston, Minnesota has not been successful in the playoffs in recent years. In fact, they have not won a playoff game since 2004 and have only won one playoff series since they won the World Series in 1991.

Correa has said that he wanted to bring the “championship culture” that Houston has had to the Twins. Thus far, he has been successful.

Carlos Correa is bringing a ‘championship culture’ to the Minnesota Twins

The Minnesota Twins were among the most disappointing teams in all of baseball in 2021, as they went 73-89 after they went 101-61 in 2019 and 36-24 in 2020. Carlos Correa has helped them become the best team in the American League Central.

Entering play on Monday, the Twins 41-33, two games ahead of the Cleveland Guardians and on pace for 90 wins.

While the Twins faced the Colorado Rockies this past weekend, FanSided caught up with Correa in an exclusive conversation about bringing that “championship culture” to the Twins and what it entails.

“It’s mindset, mentality, and having the right information,” said Correa, who has been known to dive into advanced stats, as Aaron Gleeman of The Athletic examined back in May. “I feel like with the coaching staff that we have and the people working in the front office and the veteran players in this clubhouse, I feel like we’re in a good spot right now. So we’re very happy. Now in June, where are we at as a team.” (First place in the division.)

His teammates have noticed his winning mindset as well.

“(Correa) handles himself extremely well,” Devin Smeltzer told FanSided. “He puts in his work, he does his routine, he prepares himself better than anybody. He’s not loud and vocal and flashy with his leadership, which I think is a good thing. He handles things very well. He’ll call mound visits if things are speeding up. I’ve never been a part of a team where there’s a leader on the team who will come in and talk to you in the dugout from a position player standpoint.

“He’s the type of guy that when he’s hitting 1.000 or .000, you really can’t tell the difference. He carries himself the same way, his effort is there every day.”

Smeltzer also compared his leadership skills to his former teammate, Nelson Cruz, despite Cruz being 14 years older.

“He’s pretty similar to Nelson,” Smeltzer said. “The veteran status of Nelson was obviously much different, much older, but he was a great leader as well on how he carried himself and prepared and lead by example versus the flashy, loud type of leader.

“But when it comes to the winning culture that (Correa is) trying to build, he’s the kind of leader that’s going to pull you up the ladder versus suppress you, there’s no pressure with his leadership either. It’s just kind of a magnetic force that you have to follow along with.”

Fellow starting pitcher Chris Archer echoed a similar sentiment.

“(Correa) has been huge,” Archer said. “All of us holding each other accountable and expressing what it takes to win daily, he’s done a great job with that.”

As the Twins have seen throughout the last 20 years, though, winning in the regular season and winning in the postseason are two different things but, perhaps, Correa will be able to guide them to a postseason series win or maybe even their first World Series title in more than 30 years.

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