Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Twins are NOT out of it ... yet

While the Twins are not really out of the race at this point, there are very good reasons to think they are. They have not been "unlucky" on the field. They have scored the fewest runs in the league and given up the most runs. They really have been as bad as their record. Their bullpen is a mess, their defense is marginal and the offensive production hasn't been there even from players not on the DL. So obviously for the Twins to compete, they are going to have to play better than they have. There are some reasons that is possible, and I will get to those later.

While the Twins have dug themselves into a hole, the argument from some statistical gurus that they can't dig themselves out is weak at best. They are 14.5 games behind Cleveland in first, but only 8.5 out of second. If Cleveland continues to win at their current pace, then  they are going to run away with the division. But there are lots of reasons to believe that is unlikely. If, instead, they are a .500 team the rest of the way they will end up 88-74. For the Twins to match that they will need to win 72 games. That requires a winning percentage of .626 the rest of the way. That is certainly possible for a team with the Twins apparent talent at the start of the season. And, of course, its possible Cleveland's performance will fall to the sub-500 level many projected for it going into the season. The point here is really that with all 5 teams all hovering around .500, the eventual division winner may not be very far above that.  

Which  brings us to the question of what needs to happen for the Twins to get back in the race:

1) Mauer needs to be in uniform and hitting as expected
2) Morneau needs to hit like the MVP he has been in the passt
3) Perkins, Mijares and Nathan need to fill the setup roles
4) Nishioka needs to fill one of the middle infield spots
5) Delmon Young needs to hit like he did last year
6) Thome needs to not be finished
7) Span and Kubel need to keep hitting

Of course, other stuff can and will happen for good and bad. But if the other stuff evens itself out and those seven things happen, the current team is capable of a very long run of hot baseball. Its not likely the Twins are going to get back into the pennant race. But it is very far from impossible as some bloggers have recently suggested.  

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