MN Twins: OMG!

Talk about mixed feelings! It was both very exhilarating — and slightly painful — to watch my Minnesota Twins rout the Seattle Mariners over the last three nights. The Mariners get a chance to get back some of their own this afternoon, and I almost hope they win. Being swept this badly is awful.

How awful? Well, so far: 25 more runs (36 total), 22 more hits (45 total), and 7 more home runs (11 total). The Twins pounded the Mariners’ starters, who only averaged three innings of work each (giving up 20 ER and 9 HR in 10.1 innings), while our own starters averaged six innings (and gave up only 8 ER and 3 HR in 18.1 innings).

Suffice to say the Twins are off to an awesome start this year!

Which, if it continues (we’re only 45 games in, just 28% of the season), could be what Twins fans have been hoping for since 2010.

The last few years have been tough. The worst year in the history of the Minnesota franchise was 2016. It inspired the WTF? and then the SMH! and finally the RIP posts that season.

It was a pretty bad year for the USA, too.

On top of that, the years 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 (not to mention 2016), are all on the “Dirty Dozen” list of the twelve worst franchise seasons.

The only good news during that time was in 2015, when we were 83-79 (.512) and second place in the Division, and in 2017, when we managed 85-77 (.525) and won a Wildcard slot.[1]

So there were a couple of decent years recently. And now it looks like maybe what the team was reaching for those two years is in reach.

It certainly has been fun to watch.

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What’s cool is that the team seems to be firing on nearly all cylinders.

The pitching is better than its been in years; the hitting is downright jaw-dropping; and the fielding is generally very tight.

Here’s a chart that says a great deal:

Chart: Twins Runs by Game by Year

Twins cumulative runs by season 2007–2019.

The red line is the runs this year compared to runs in previous years. The fainter the line, the longer ago it was. You can see the more recent years were all quite a ways below what the Twins are doing this year.

Currently, they’re up 77 runs (and 44 hits)! They’re averaging 5.73 runs per game (9.24 hits per game).

Their 258 total runs includes 87 home runs (at a rate 5.05%, that’s a home run every twenty plate appearances).

The slash line currently is .270/.337/.511, giving them an .848 OPS and a .241 ISO (which is pretty damn good).

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The wins chart is similarly encouraging:

Chart: Twins Wins by Game by Year

Twins wins by season 2010–2019.

If they can keep this up, or even close, this could be a great season!

It’s a long season and injuries or the team yips can kill the momentum and all of a sudden the dream slips away. Gotta reach at least 54 games (one-third of the season) before I’ll get too excited.

Even better to wait until the All-Star break. If we’re still doing this good then, that’s when I’ll start really believing.

And even if they crash (which I don’t expect), it’s been a pretty great ride so far. Twins baseball is finally fun to watch![2]

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What makes this season so enjoyable is that all the charts are evocative!

For instance the all-important runs (no runs, no wins):

Chart: Runs by Year

Blue bars for Twin% (red line average), diamonds for opponent%.

This is a big part of the awesome. Hitting at 15%, compared to previous years, is huge. It’s exactly why they’re winning games.

A lot of the runs are home runs:

Chart: Home Runs by Year

Teal bars for Twin% (red line average), diamonds for opponent%.

Which, again, is a big heaping helping of awesome!

Those black diamonds are part of the Really Big Deal. They are the opponent percentages. Ideally, they should be less than ours — we want the opponents to be doing worse.

Ever since 2010, that hasn’t been happening. (Except in 2015 and 2017, at least with regard to runs.)

Obviously, the higher the black diamond is above the team’s bar, the worse the different. Here’s two charts that show the same thing in terms of that differential:

Chart: Run Diff

Twins Run% Differential. Dark yellow line is average.

See, again, the horror of the post-2010 years. We saw a slight positive differential in 2015 and, slightly better, in 2017.

And now 2019. That’s pretty wow.

Chart: Home Run Diff

Twins Home Run% Differential. Dark yellow line is average.

This one is even better, because we have never had a positive home run differential (since 2007). We always hit fewer home runs than our opponents.

Or, more to the point, our pitchers always gave up more than we got.

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Which is the other side of the current success story.

Perhaps not the stronger side, compared to the batting awesomeness, but a major breath of clean air after stinking so badly for so long.

Here’s the “says it all” pitching chart:

Chart: Twins ERAs

Twins Staff (red), Starting (blue), and Bullpen (green) ERAs since 2007.

As the chart shows, 2012 through 2014, our starting pitching was pretty bad. It got bad again in 2016.

This year (so far), the overall ERA is slightly lower than in 2010, and our starters are doing better than they have in the 12 years prior!

Our bullpen could be better. (It’s lost us a couple of games.)

Here’s a look at the starting staff:

Chart: Twins Starters

Twins Starting Staff ERAs in 2019.

Kyle Gibson (green) really brought his ERA down, and so did Jake Odorizzi.

Berrios has been great, but had some struggles the last couple of games. You can see his orange line starting to turn upwards.

On the other hand, Michael Pineda struggled at first, but has been doing better lately.

Martin Perez also had a brief hard start, but has been really good since.

Something that’s been very encouraging to see is the Twins pitchers working harder to strike out batters:

Chart: Pitching Strikeouts

Twins Pitching Strikeout percentages.

The blue diamonds are the Twins strikeout rates. As with the similar charts above, the higher the diamond is above the bar, the worse the situation is.

And, of course, I have a differential version (they show the flip-flop in team fortune much better):

What these charts show is awfully nice to see. You can see that both Twins batters and Twins pitchers have been working on this one.

It’s all conspired to create this happy chart:

Chart: Twins ERA 2019

Twins Pitching Staff ERA in 2019. Below 5 good. Below 4 better!

Which is pretty sweet rain after the drought.

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But wait, there’s more!

The Twins are winning a healthy share of one-run games:

Chart: One-Run Games

Twins games won or lost by one run (since 2007).

Which is good indicator. Compare (again) to years past.

They’re also winning most of the routs:

Chart: Big Run Games

Twins games won or lost by five or more runs (since 2007).

Which is encouraging. Not to mention fun.

We have a good record both at home, 15-8 (.652), and on the road, 15-7 (.682), which is another good indicator.

Overall, the Twins are 30-15 (.667).

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All in all, it seems to give us a decent shot of seeing post-season.

We’re certainly well on our way:

Chart: MLB Wins

Win records for all 30 MLB teams. (Twins are the teal line.)[3]

The trick is keeping on keeping on for over one-hundred more games!

[The Twins played their Sunday afternoon game against the Mariners as I wrote this post. As I kind of expected, and am okay with, they lost 4-7. It was a decent game, though; Gibson just gave up some HRs. It’s nice Seattle fans got to see a win.]

[[OTOH, I’m glad I didn’t wait for the Seattle series to end to write this post. I like the 30-15 record and the implicit “demon ball” (.666) — as in rock & roll, there’s a whole “deal with the devil” thing in baseball.]]

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Stay in the game, my friends!


[1] And, of course, were immediately taken out by the damnYankees.

[2] And even the games we lose are generally well-played and fun to watch. It all makes the occasional clown car game much easier to bear.

[3] Pity the poor Marlins!

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

One response to “MN Twins: OMG!

  • Wyrd Smythe

    It just gets more amazing and unbelievable. My Twins are currently 36-16 (.692) with matching home and away records of 18-8 (the same .692). They’re even winning when they don’t score high (10-15 on games with four or fewer runs). When they score five or more: 26-1!

    They’re 8-4 on one-run games and 14-4 on blowouts (five or more runs).

    Team slash line is .273/.341/.518 (so an .859 OPS and .245 ISO), and they’re getting 6.06 runs per game (9.38 hits — one per inning). Their run differential is 111!

    They’re still hitting home runs at the absurd rate of 5.19% (of PA). They’ve got 104 on the year. This month they tied Twins record for HR in a month: 55. One more and they set yet another record.

    They’ve come so far since 2016 that it really is hard to wrap my head around.

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