I’m pretty close to jumping onto the #ItsHappening bandwagon, but there are a few things that are giving me pause currently.
– The Twins’ influential run in 2006 began when the club was eight games under .500. Currently, the Twins stand seven games under .500, and that’s after playing out of their minds for the past two or three weeks. The one caveat to that take is that it took 95 or so games to win the division in ’06, this year it’ll take 10 less than that. Still, just like in ’06, it’s going to be at least a two-horse race, and maybe three if the Indians and Tigers both continue to hang around, which I expect they will. (I should note that I don’t personally buy into the ’06 comparisons anyway. Clubs and dynamics are so different year-to-year and all that, but I think that some fans see the parallels and feel some similarities are present.)
– The 2006 club was more talented than this current club. No single starter can hold a candle to Johan Santana from that year, and Francisco Liriano was also pretty much untouchable before his arm injury. Brad Radke and Boof Bonser were also very good. Make no mistake, with all starters under a 5.00 ERA this season (actually saying quite a bit in the case of Liriano, for one), the rotation has held the pitching staff together to be sure, but one has to wonder how long it can last. The offense in ’06 was much better too, to the tune of about 110 points in OPS, though I’ll grant the ’11 club’s best offensive baseball is for sure ahead of them.
– Despite the resurgence, this offense still, as a whole, isn’t really any good. The collective slash-line for the club is .246/.304/.356, or about 30 points lower than the deposed Trevor Plouffe. Those marks rank 11th, 13th, and 12th respectively, with the OPS of 660 checking in at 12 in the American League.
– To even get to 10 games over .500, the Twins have to be 17 games over .500 the rest of the way. That’s a pace of 54-37 (.593) over the last 91 games.
-The club’s run differential is still -50 runs, which lends itself to a 30-41 Pythagorean record when the club’s actual record is 32-39. That two game difference isn’t a big deal really, but I think it means the team is overachieving a fair amount.
– A lot of the heroes thus far this season have been Triple-A callups. That lends itself to a lot of feel-good storylines, but it’s pretty simple: The Triple-A club isn’t any good, and hasn’t been with these guys in leading roles. So, I think there’s a lot of luck at play when guys like Rene Tosoni (triple-slashing .190/.261/.286 currently) are stroking doubles against stud set-up men.
– The talk about Ben Revere having earned his stripes up here is just slightly odd. While I haven’t checked his WPA (win probability added) for any single plays or anything, I’d be willing to wager that he’s made some plays that have drastically swayed the games in the Twins’ favor as pertaining to WPA. Still, I think the legend of Mr. Revere is getting a little out of hand for a guy that’s hitting .269/.303/.298. I’m not saying he shouldn’t be on the big league roster over Jason Repko, but the idea that a spot needs to be made for him to play every day in the major leagues seems a bit silly. He makes a ton of individual plays that are jaw-dropping, but his overall game needs refining, still.
Another notion I found silly was Patrick Reusse suggesting over and over today on AM1500 that the Twins were somehow ‘stuck’ with Jim Thome at this point. First of all, it’s pretty difficult to be stuck with a guy who has been on the DL a couple times this season. Secondly, when Thome’s been healthy this season, he’s been very productive, triple-slashing .237/.372/.447.
Another asinine conversation that took place was between Dan Gladden and John Gordon last night on the Twins radio broadcast, as they were discussing who should represent the Twins at the All Star Game. The first suggestion by both was Michael Cuddyer, which in itself isn’t a terrible idea. Cuddyer’s been very productive (.280/.344/.452), and has also been very versatile, which will likely make him endearing to AL All Star manager Ron Washington. However, when the conversation jumped to pitchers the Twins might have in the game, both announcers mentioned Carl Pavano (before discounting his wins total), Nick Blackburn, and Matt Capps.
Never once was Scott Baker, who is having a better season than all three, mentioned even in passing. Baker is by far the most deserving on the Twins’ staff, with the possible exception of a rejuvenated Liriano. Still, it’s hard to discount just how bad Liriano started out the season, and I think that would disqualify him. Anyway, I’d like to see Baker get some love if the Twins do send a pitcher to the All Star festivities.
Speaking of Baker and Blackburn, they’re having basically identical seasons (in some ways). Through 14 starts for each, check out their respective lines.
Baker: 5-4, 3.24 ERA (33 ER), 91.2 IP, 12 HR allowed, 24 BB, 1 CG
Blackburn: 6-4, 3.16 ERA (32 ER), 91.0 IP, 12 HR allowed, 24 BB, 1 CG
The big difference makers that should sway folks in Baker’s favor are strikeouts (88-47, advantage Baker), WHIP (1.32-1.17, advantage Baker), and K/BB (3.67-1.96 advantage Baker).
My Kyle Gibson prospect profile went up at Baseball Press a few days ago. Feel free to check it out here and let me know what you think!
I’ll have an interview up with Michael Schlact Thursday at Upper Deck Report. Schlact is a free agent pitcher who has hurled in the Texas Rangers for the past seven seasons prior to an arm injury, which kept him out of action for part of the 2010 season.
Speaking of Upper Deck Report, tomorrow I’ll be promoting the company at Sky Deck Sports Grille and Lanes at Mall of America from 6:00-8:00pm. If you have some free time, come out and see Al Newman, Jim Rich, and company record their podcast and help a start-up company get some much needed advertising!
Yesterday, I officially joined the team at Fangraphs. It’s a pretty great step for me, since the job at Baseball Prospectus didn’t pan out exactly as I’d hoped. I’ll work hard and do my best and we’ll see what happens!
I’m on a Lupe Fiasco phase when it comes to music, so here’s my BW.com music selection of the day: