Finding it Hard to Not Get Ahead of Myself

April 17, 2010 at 5:01 pm Leave a comment

Now that the Minnesota Twins have a .750 winning percentage, it seems as though all the pre season hype (Which I contributed to!) was really on to something. So let’s start with the bad news:

Joe Nathan is hurt and Jon Rauch is still really pedestrian. He’s 6 for 6 in save chances right now, and I hope he continues this ‘Fernando Rodney from 2009’ luck for the whole season but I’m not counting on it.

Jose Mijares is really fat (10 pounds heavier than last season, apparently), has no command, and now his elbow has landed him on the DL.

Pat Neshek might have to go on the DL, as well, which sucks because unlike Mijares, he’s pitched really well.

Denard Span still hasn’t quite gotten it going, although his OBP is now up to .375 so that’s nitpicking.

J.J. Hardy, while certainly a stratospheric upgrade over previous Twins shortstops of recent memory, looks like he generates almost all of his production off of mistakes. I’m starting to doubt his ability to handle good pitching.

Kevin Slowey and Nick Blackburn look very hittable, with WHIPS of 1.74 and 1.50, respectively.

Now the far more plentiful good news:

The bullpen has a 1.66 ERA and has only walked four batters.

The top 7 hitters in the lineup all have OBPs over .324, and the two players with OBPs below that are batting 8 and 9. In other words, Gardy has actually constructed a good lineup, based on the actual skills of his players.

O-Dawg is starting to hit, and his current slash line of .280/.333/.420 is almost exactly what we should expect from him over the course of the season. Along with his solid enough defense, that means we’ve gotten a great pick up so far.

The middle of the order in Mauer Morneau Cuddyer Kubel Thome and Young all have OPS’ over .800 and have, with the exception of Mauer and his .537 SLG, two home runs.

The Twins have the best run differential in the American League and trail only the Phillies for supremacy throughout baseball. They are tied with the Yankees for first in the AL in terms of runs scored, and are one behind the A’s in terms of runs allowed.

Delmon Young has two walks (Already!) and is slugging .567 with almost acceptable, but certainly improved, defense. Plus, his BABIP is only .269, meaning he could be performing even better with average luck.

Justin Morneau’s back has not been a problem. He’s hitting .341 with a team leading 11 walks and a .512 SLG.

Francisco Liriano shut down the potent Boston Red Sox lineup for 7 innings, allowing 4 hits, 2 walks and striking out 8. His ERA stands at a 2006-like 2.08.

Carl Pavano and Scott Baker have performed exceptionally well. Baker has allowed fewer than 1 home run per 9 innings, and Pavano is combining good performance with some of the luck he never got last year in his FIP coming in over a run lower than his actual ERA. The performance of the 3 starters I have just mentioned renders the mediocrity of Slowey and Blackburn so far, as far less significant.

The Twins have taken series wins from the Angels (Hegemonic power of the Al West), White Sox (Only team besides Twins to win Central division mutiple times in past 8 years), Red Sox (2004 and 2007 champs who have made the playoffs every year but one since 2002), and Royals (Dayton Moore’s mom says his team is a bunch of ‘go-getters’).

The 3 losses have come against Jered Weaver, Mark Buehrle and John Lackey. But the team has also beaten Jon Lester and Zack Greinke convincingly. The point here is, the Twins have handled bad pitching (A weakness of some recent Twins teams, ain’t that right, Kyle Davies and Jeremy Sowers), and have about broken even against good pitching. To me, that’s the sign of a legitimately good team.

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