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Thursday, May 3, 2012

No hit, and No Heart. Twins Grades for the 1st Month of the Season

 UGLY. Ugly or ugliness is a term referring to a property of a person or thing that is unpleasant to look upon and results in unfavorable evaluation. This is the best way to describe the Minnesota Twins this season. The last two nights the Twins have been unbearable to watch, as they made Angel's Starting Pitcher, Jerome Williams look like Bob Gibson on Tuesday night. Of course, last night they were no-hit for the fifth time in Twins franchise history, by Jered Weaver, of the Angels. The majority of the team took bad at-bats, and seemed like they were trying to get no hit last night.

This is more than a funk. The Twins are unquestionably the worst team in baseball.They are on pace to lose 121 games this season. Just terrible. Ex GM Bill Smith really tore this team apart during his short time running the front office; Getting nothing of value for Johan Santana, signing Nishi, the Japanese player to a huge contract and getting nothing out of that, and poor drafts. The future is not bright for this squad either, as bad drafting has left the Twins with very shallow Minor League depth, and very few MLB prospects at the AAA or AA level.

The worst thing about this Twins team is not the 6-18 record or the horrible pitching, it is the lack of effort. The Twins should be ashamed at how they have played this season: Bad at-bats, poor fielding, incompetent baserunning, horrendous starting and relief pitching are hallmarks of this team so far. With all that said, lets get to the grades.

Starting Pitchers: F
Carl Pavano, Nick Blackburn, Liam Hendriks, Jason Marquis, Francisco Liriano and Anthony Swarzak have combined for just 3 wins in 24 starts so far this season. These same guys have combined for 14 losses. The Twins Starting staff has the fewest innings pitched and the worst earned run average (ERA) in the Major Leagues. Jason Marquis leads the Starter with two wins. Carl Pavano has the best ERA at 4.91. Frank Liriano is allowing 2.22 baserunners per innings pitched. That is very hard to do. Congrats Frank. Not one person on the pitching staff has more than 17 strikeouts. That is hard to believe. The total staff ERA is an even 7.00. Garbage. Sadly, this is by far the worst Starting Pitching staff in the MLB.
Relief Pitching: C-
This has been another sore spot for the Twins this season, although it is not all their fault. Having to come on in the third or fourth inning to relieve for the Starters every game has taxed this bullpen to the breaking point. The bullpen has a combined 3-4 record. Closer Matt Capps has four saves, but an ERA of 5.00. RP Jeff Gray is tied for the team lead with two wins. Gray also has the best ERA on the team at 1.69. He has been allowed to pitch only 10 innings so far this season, for some reason. The bullpen has a combined ERA of 3.74. As a team the Twins have the worst ERA in the MLB at 5.77. Just Awful.

Batting: C-
The Twins started out the month hitting poorly then picked it up in the middle of the month only to fall flat again the last few games. Without the great performances of Denard Span and Josh Willingham, this grade would be lower. Willingham has been a pleasant surprise leading the team in: Home-runs(5), Runs Batted In(15), and On Base Percentage(.429). Span leads the team in Batting Average, hitting .327 so far this year. That is the positive. Here is the negative: The Twins are 24th in runs scored out of 30 teams, they have the third fewest home-runs so far, have grounded into the third most double plays(Joe Mauer) and are hitting just 250 as a team. The Twins are also the least clutch team in the MLB. Hitting just .232 with runners in scoring position.

Joe Mauer is hitting .302 which is okay for an MLB regular. That is not acceptable for a guy making the kind of money Mauer is. Denard Span the Twin's leadoff hitter has a higher slugging percentage than Mauer. Mauer still does not swing at the first pitch of any at-bat. Pitchers know this, so they often throw it right down the middle and get strike one on Mauer. Carlos Gomez has more home-runs at Target Field than Joe Mauer in about 650 fewer at-bats. Garbage. Mauer should also be held responsible for the lack of leadership on this team. The teams highest paid player, he shows no fire and just goes through his routine the same everyday, despite his teams abysmal play.

Danny Valencia has regressed for the second year in a row. He still has horrible at-bats most of the time. Justin Morneau has played OK. He has four home-runs, but is hitting just .230. Morneau also has just one hit off left-handed pitchers this season. Jamey Carrol is hitting just .200, but he has played every game this season for some reason. Clete Thomas had one stretch recently where he struck out in 15 out of 18 at-bats.
Alexi Casilla has a .286 On Base Percentage, one of the lowest in the Majors.

Fielding: D+
The Twins are the tenth best fielding team in the American League. They have committed 14 errors on the year. They are just below the American League average in fielding percentage at .984. The Twins, though are a slow team, and do not get to as many batted ball as they should. Advanced fielding statistics have them as the second worst fielding team in the American League.

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