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Wednesday (The feast or famine Twins offense) edition: Wha' Happened?

  • Blog Post by: Michael Rand
  • September 5, 2012 - 8:57 AM

Taken as a function of the simplest metric we can find to explain offensive production -- runs scored per game -- the Twins, over their last 100 games, have one of the best offenses in baseball. They have scored 485 runs in that span, following a putrid 10-26 start during which they scored just 120. That 100 game pace, obviously, is 4.85 runs per game -- which, were it done over a full season, would rank Minnesota among the top five offenses in all of MLB this season. As it stands now, the Twins are still 12th in runs scored in baseball despite that bad start.

A closer look at the numbers, though, reveals some strange qualities in how the average is obtained. Namely: the Twins have a bad habit of having their entire lineup get hot or cold at the same time, thereby producing the types of feast or famine numbers like we've seen during ice-cold stretches before 18-run outbursts such as the one Tuesday vs. Chicago.

Consider: The Twins have scored at least 8 runs in a game 20 times this season, with 19 of those 20 coming in the past 100 games we're dealing with primarily here. (It is also notable that 12 of those 19 came against AL Central teams, but that's a story for another time).

Not surprisingly, they are 27-2 this year when scoring at least seven runs in a game. Also not surprisingly given their pitching is their abysmal record in games when they score 3 or fewer runs this season: 5-61. What is surprising, given their overall offensive numbers, is the quantity of games with three runs or fewer -- 66 games, nearly half of the 136 games they have played. Included in that are 44 of their last 100, when the offense, on average, has been rather robust. (The Washington Nationals -- who have scored almost the same number of runs overall as the Twins, have nine fewer games this season of three runs or fewer).

Their past 16 games, during which they are 6-10, kind of sum it all up. Runs scored in each game: 7, 1, 1, 6, 0, 3, 6, 0, 2, 10, 4, 3, 8, 4, 2, 18. Half those games involve 3 or fewer runs scored. But the total runs scored (75) work out to 4.68 runs per game.

On a team that has the second-worst ERA in MLB (4.80), we're certainly not blaming the offense. But the Twins hitters have either ganged up on bad pitching in blowouts, been unlucky with their run dispersal or a little bit of both in compiling an overall run total that looks impressive but often comes up short.

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