It seems everyone on the street (I eavesdrop) has been finding it ironic that the Twins pitching is imploding and the Twins offense is outstanding. Crazy!
Yeah, not really. See, the Twins are 9th in the league in runs. They were 4th last year. They were 11th in 2005. Generally, when the Twins make the playoffs, it’s because they had a good year offensively. As for the pitching, the batting average against is almost exactly the same as it was last year. The only difference is that teams this year are executing with runners in scoring position a little bit better. The pitching, scary as it sounds, isn’t any worse than it was last year.
Really, the offense is more worrisome, in my mind, than people suggest, and pitching is less so. Its my job to be a negative nelly, since I write a blog and all, so let me tell you why. The successful offensive players, thus far anyways, have been 4 lefties and a streaky, injury prone righty.
Broken down further, Denard Span is a leadoff hitter, and a good one at that. He could afford to take another walk every now and then, but still, a good lead off guy. Joe Mauer is among the best players in baseball, if not the best right now, however he is also injury prone, and his incredible clip can’t possibly be maintained. Justin Morneau, while a great power threat, is sometimes prone to prolonged cold streaks and has never been much of a late game hitter. Jason Kubel is another guy, much like Span, who needs to learn some plate discipline, but this looks like his break out year. Or it did until he stopped hitting home runs. He’s stuck on 5 and has been since May 13th, and only has 1 bomb since April. Michael Cuddyer picked up the slack this past month, and is now hitting .274 with 9 homers. For those who watch Cuddy regularly, its no surprise that he injured himself striking out.
And those were the good players. Elsewhere, the team is atrocious offensively. Going into tonights game, Alexi Casilla, Nick Punto, Matt Tolbert and Brian Buscher were batting below .200. Brendan Harris and Mike Redmond were the only players hitting above the .230s. Harris has been getting some playing time, and Redmond can only play when Mauer doesn’t. Mauer should never sit. Even if you put Harris in the middle infield, you have to have Punto, Casilla, or Tolbert in there. And in the outfield, no matter what, you need to have Delmon Young (.230) or Carlos Gomez (.214) in the game. I didn’t even mention Joe Crede, who is hitting .239 and was slotted at the cleanup spot today. Oy. As good as the good players have been, there are still several gaping holes in the lineup every day.
So, we have these gaping holes. How are Gomez and Young still in the bigs? Or Tolbert or Casilla? Because there isn’t any help in the minors. If we want the Twins to even hang out around .500, we need to see some production out of the lackluster players to account for the inevitble drop off we will see from the good ones in the coming months. And don’t worry about the pitching.