So What You’re Telling Me Is the Minnesota Twins Don’t Do Anything Well

So What You’re Telling Me Is the Minnesota Twins Don’t Do Anything Well

The Twins are a team full of bad hitters who can’t field, and their pitching staff is incapable of picking up the slack, to paraphrase Marc Normandin for SportsonEarth.com. Before you can say that sounds familiar, Normandin insists Minnesota is taking that combination to new extremes.

On the heels of what could only be described as an embarrassing series in Milwaukee, the Phillies will get a shot to clean up this latest mess they made with three games in the Twin Cities. And while they aren’t sporting a much better record than Minnesota (27-33), the Twins apparently can’t do anything right.

Normandin’s scathing analysis from June 7 breaks down the Phils’ next opponent.

They aren't hitting. The team's OPS+ is just 92, third-worst in the American League and tied with the Houston Astros, who have been accused of intentionally trying to lose in order to bolster their draft quality while they rebuild. What's fascinating -- or infuriating, if you're a Twins fan -- is that the hitters aren't all great defenders who are making it up elsewhere: this is a team full of bad hitters who can't field, and it's eliminating any of the good from the players who can do any of either.

Defensive Efficiency is a Baseball Prospectus defensive statistic, and it's the simplest one to understand -- even simpler than the so-simple-it's-pointless Fielding Percentage, except without the "pointless" bit tagged on. Defensive Efficiency measures the percentage of balls in play that are converted into outs. That includes errors, which, as you're aware, are not outs, so it penalizes teams for not only the balls they don't get to, but also the ones they muff. The Twins, who can't hit, also rank third-to-last in Defensive Efficiency, in both the AL and the majors as a whole.

It would be easier for the Twins' pitching to succeed if they were missing bats, given how few balls in play the gloves behind them are effectively taking care of. The Twins don't strike hitters out, though, making things that much worse. They are dead last in strikeout rate, at 5.8 per nine -- they are the only team with fewer than 6.5, well below the current league average of 7.6. It's not the bullpen's fault, as they're punching out a decent enough eight batters per nine, but the rotation is at -- brace yourself -- 4.4 strikeouts per nine. That's bad without context, but let's make sure we all realize how terrible it actually is. There are 99 pitchers who qualify for the ERA title in 2013 as of Thursday. Only two of them have personal strikeout rates per nine innings lower than what the Twins have received out of all of their starters as a unit.

Here’s one thing the Twins did do well though, much better than the Phillies in fact: they swept the Brewers two weeks ago. I wonder what that must be like.

The Phils send Cole Hamels to the hill tonight to face 28-year-old right-hander P.J. Walters, who is a career 6-6 with a 5.92 ERA in 35 career big-league appearances. That match-up figures to put all of Normandin’s theories to the test right off the bat in this series.

>> The Twins are moving in the wrong direction [SportsonEarth.com]

Instant Replay: Mets 5, Phillies 3, Oct. 1

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Instant Replay: Mets 5, Phillies 3, Oct. 1

BOX SCORE

Ryan Howard gave the fans a treat with a two-run home run in his penultimate game in a Phillies uniform, but that was the extent of the highlights Saturday afternoon as the Phils suffered a 5-3 loss to the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park.

With the victory, the Mets clinched a spot in the NL playoffs as a wild-card team.

The Phillies clinched their sixth straight loss and eighth in the last nine games.

They are 70-91 heading into the final day of the season.

Starting pitching report
Phil Klein worked four innings for the Phillies and gave up one run.

Mets starter Bartolo Colon went five innings and gave up just two runs. Both runs came on Howard’s homer in the fifth.

Bullpen report
Patrick Schuster and David Hernandez gave up runs in the sixth as the Mets broke a 2-2 tie. Hernandez allowed a two-run homer and took the loss.

The Mets’ bullpen pitched four shutout innings. Jeurys Familia closed it out for his 51st save.

At the plate
Howard’s homer was his 25th of the season, tying him with Maikel Franco for the team lead. It was the 382nd homer of his career, tying him with Jim Rice and Frank Howard for 67th on the all-time list.

Howard has six doubles, 13 homers and 32 RBIs in 47 games since July 3.

Darin Ruf smacked a pinch-hit homer in the seventh inning.

The Mets scored single runs in the fourth and fifth innings. James Loney put them ahead for good with a two-run homer in the top if the sixth. It broke a 2-2 tie. Asdrubal Cabrera drove in an insurance run with a single in the top of the ninth.

Up next
The Phillies close out the season Sunday afternoon against the Mets. Jerad Eickhoff (11-14, 3.72) pitches for the Phillies. Noah Syndergaard (14-9, 2.60) is the Mets’ scheduled starter.

The game will start at 3:05. The Phillies will honor Howard at 2:30.

Instant Replay: Temple 45, SMU 20

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Instant Replay: Temple 45, SMU 20

Recent history suggested that Temple and SMU would display some offensive fireworks Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field
 
The Owls lived up to their end of the bargain with a potent first-half attack, while the Mustangs are still wondering what hit them.
 
Temple began its defense of the AAC East crown by overwhelming SMU with 368 yards of total offense and sprinkling in a fumble recovery touchdown en route to a 45-20 thrashing of the Mustangs in both teams’ conference opener. All but 10 of the Owls’ points came in the first half.
 
The Owls’ defense kept the Mustangs’ uptempo offense in check most of the day, allowing 288 total yards and recording four sacks and two interceptions. SMU came into Saturday’s game averaging 448 yards of offense per game.
 
Temple (3-2, 1-0 AAC) effectively set a tone for the rest of conference play at the expense of the overmatched Mustangs.
 
SMU (2-3, 0-1 AAC) won’t be forgetting its first trip to Philadelphia since 1946 anytime soon.
 
Turning point
After Walker threw a pick-six to SMU’s Jordan Wyatt on the game’s opening drive, the Owls came back out with another uninspiring, fruitless offensive effort. The Mustangs had every ounce of the early momentum. But then the Owls unleashed their secret weapon in punter Alex Starzyk, who uncorked one of his trademark rugby-style punts. The ball bounced off a SMU player’s leg and Temple recovered at the SMU 42-yard line.
 
Seven plays later, Jahad Thomas scampered in from 12 yards out for a touchdown to tie the game. Temple went on to score 35 straight points and never looked back.
 
Injury report
Temple junior safety Sean Chandler was a sudden scratch Saturday with what the team called a knee injury. Redshirt senior Nate L. Smith started in Chandler’s place and recorded a pick in the second quarter. Thomas took over the punt return duties for the day.
 
Senior linebacker Avery Williams was a game-time decision with an ankle issue. He started but didn’t see his usual helping of snaps. Redshirt freshman Chapelle Russell and redshirt sophomore Jared Folks saw the field most in place of Williams.
 
Owls sophomore wideout Ventell Bryant, the team’s top returning receiver from last season, returned to action after missing the last three games.
 
Big men on campus
Sophomore Ryquell Armstead carried the rock 15 times for two touchdowns and a career-high 159 yards. It was his first career 100-yard rushing game. Those 159 yards are the most by an Owl since Thomas rushed for 199 against UCF last October.
 
Another game, two more rushing touchdowns for Thomas. He now has six touchdowns in three games since returning from a dislocated left thumb that forced him to miss the first two games of the year. He finished the day with 80 yards rushing and those two scores.
 
Romond Deloatch continues to do it all for Temple. Not only did the versatile senior have a 34-yard catch, he scooped up a fumble and brought it back for a defensive touchdown after lining up at defensive tackle in the second quarter. He palmed the ball off the ground like a basketball and trotted in easily from eight yards out.  Haason Reddick forced the fumble when he decleated SMU freshman quarterback Ben Hicks. Reddick had another sack and forced fumble on a huge hit of Hicks later in the game. The quarterback will be seeing Reddick in his nightmares.
 
Bryant made an impact in his return with a 43-yard touchdown reception.
 
Ugly day for Walker
For all the good things Temple did on Saturday, Walker, the Owls’ senior quarterback, didn’t have a game to brag about.
 
He wasn’t sharp at all as he went 7 for 18 for 124 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions on awful decisions. He stared down his receiver and forced the throw on Wyatt’s pick-six. He forced another throw along the sideline later in the game that was picked and led to a touchdown for the Mustangs. SMU defender Rodney Clemons dropped another easy pick in the third quarter.
 
Rough field conditions
The playing surface at Lincoln Financial Field was not in great shape Saturday, to put it politely. It was brown and torn-up from 30-yard line to 30-yard line. Beware. This is what happens when you mess with the combination of Beyoncé and Mother Nature.
 
Style watch
Temple broke out some sharp new black jerseys for Saturday’s game and paired them with white helmets and white pants. It was the first time the Owls wore black jerseys in two years.
 
Up next
There won’t be much rest for Temple this week. The Owls have to travel to Memphis for a nationally televised Thursday night matchup with the Tigers at the Liberty Bowl.
 
SMU heads to Tulsa next Saturday night.