Minnesota Twins Chase First Post-Season since 2010. No Really They Are
Everyone who thought the Minnesota Twins would have ten more wins than losses at any time during the 2015 season please stand up. All five of you may now take a seat.
Astounding may be the most apt way of describing the Twins performance so far. With a quarter of the season gone, we should look at how they have accomplished this feat.
Head and shoulders above any other factor is the pitching. As a team, Minnesota is ninth in ERA after finishing last one year ago.
Leading the brigade are starters Mike Pelfrey (4-1, 2.77) and Kyle Gibson (4-3, 2.72). Phil Hughes (3-4, 4.50) is trending a little behind his pace from 2014 (16-10, 3.52) with Ricky Nolasco (5-1, 5.12) sporting a good record aided by excellent run support. Throw out his disastrous first outing against Detroit (6 ER, 3 IP) and the 32 year-old right-hander is within the realm of decent.
Year-over-year hitting comparisons are pretty stable. In comparison with the rest of the league, the Twinkies are keeping pace in most every major category except they don’t walk as much as they did last year nor do they whiff as much either.
The most encouraging development has to be the production from corner infielders Joe Mauer (1B) and Trevor Plouffe (3B) who each have 26 RBI’s. Second Baseman Brian Dozier is putting together a solid season by leading the team in doubles, home runs, total bases and runs scored. That status could change to outstanding by raising his batting average (.251). Torii Hunter’s return must also be mentioned as he leads the team in hitting (.281) among players with at least 50 at-bats plus 27 RBI's which also is team best.
Looking ahead, the question becomes can Target Field be witness to a pennant race this summer? Admittedly for this or any other team except for a couple, the answer is difficult to ascertain.
Minnesota’s pitchers are last in the league in striking out batters. The stress on the defense as a result is a concern. That’s what makes Ervin Santana’s return in July from suspension so intriguing.
Injuries have been minimal so far in 2015. Depending on when and who falls to the wayside plus how the replacement responds could tip the balance on this season.
All this without mentioning the guidance of Paul Molitor as manager says a ton. The core of the team stayed relatively intact and started the year losing six of seven.
Overall, where the Twins are right now is a smashing success. By Independence Day more of the trends will point toward either a post-season chase or an aimless summer.