2009 was an exciting year for the Minnesota Twins. 162 games were not enough, as they won the American League Central with a record of 87-76 after defeating the Detroit Tigers in game 163. (fun fact: only one person shown in the picture on the right is currently on the Twins major league roster)
Remember last year when the Twins led all of Major League Baseball with a bating average somewhere near .290 with runners in scoring position? The combination of their batting average with RISP, missing Joe Mauer for the first month and Justin Morneau for the last month of the season, and having generally “shaky” starting pitching seems to show that 2009 Twins may have overachieved just a bit.
That is not the case with this year’s squad. Bill Smith and the gang went into last offseason with one goal in mind, to become a legitimate contender, rather than a stepping-stone for the Yankees, Angels, or Red Sox to yet another World Series title. As the offseason came to a close, most Twins fans were extremely optimistic about the moves that had been made, and how this year’s team would fare.
The 2010 season is now 3 weeks old, and the Twins haven’t disappointed. They own the second best record in all of baseball at 13-6, second only to the Tampa Bay Rays. They have a 3 game lead in the Central division over the Detroit Tigers, who they will be facing for the first time this season on Tuesday.
The Twins are off to one of their best starts in franchise history, having won each of their first 6 series to start this season. They have scored the 4th most runs in all of baseball at an average of 5.32 per game, and have the second best run differential in all of baseball at +31 overall. But what is crazy about all of this is the fact that the Twins have hit poorly with runners in scoring position, and have been downright awful with the bases loaded.
The Twins have hit .262 so far this season with RISP, and they are an abysmal 4 for 26 (.154) with the bases loaded. What does this mean? It means that the 2010 Twins with the second best record in baseball are actually underachieving!
Can you imagine what this season may look like 3 weeks in if the Twins were hitting anywhere close to their mark of last season with RISP, or if they were able to produce with the bases loaded? One thing is for sure; the Twins would be 14-5 rather than 13-6, because the they had the bases loaded twice today in the final game of the series at Kauffman Stadium and were unable to do anything, eventually falling 4-3 to the Royals.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not searching for things that are wrong with this team, nor am I a fatalist who believes the Twins record to be empty and that it is only a matter of time before they come crashing back down to earth. This Twins team is very, very good. They possess the second best record in baseball in spite of their lack of timely hitting because they have played outstanding defense (only 1 error this season), they have pitched very well, and their offense has scored a ton of runs.
I think that Bill Smith should be proud of his offseason work, because I, along with many Twins fans can see that he accomplished what he set out to do. This team is a legitimate contender, and is ready to make a run at the franchise’s 4th World Series title (Twins 3rd). All I have to say is that the rest of the league had better look out, because when the Twins begin producing with RISP and the bases loaded, this lineup could be the most potent in all of baseball.