The Twins fell to the Yankees in the AL Wild Card Game on Tuesday night in the Bronx, and that means their 2017 season has drawn to a close. That disappointment notwithstanding, the Twins have a lot of reasons to look back upon the campaign that was as a rousing success. Why's that? Well, two reasons come to mind ... They got better. A lot better. In 2016, the Twins lost 103 games -- their highest loss tally since they were the Washington Senators. This season, they improved by a hefty 26 games. Yes, they out-played their run differential by a couple of games, but on the run differential front they went from -167 in 2016 to +27 this year. That's big forward progress, to say the least. Along the way, they notched their first playoff berth since 2010. The young talent base impressed. Here's the big thing. The Twins are in the middle stages of a rebuild, so contention wasn't expected in 2017. It happened anyway. The good news in terms of maintaining that success is that young, controlled players contributed heavily to those successes. Consider ... Byron Buxton, after spending time over the offseason improving his first step, went from a very good defensive center fielder to probably the best defensive center fielder in the game today. As well, Buxton, who's still just 23, found his stroke in the second half and batted .300/.347/.546 after the break. He also was one of the best baserunners in the game, as he stole 29 bags in 30 attempts and took the extra base a highly impressive 71 percent of the time. He's once again looking like a future star.