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]