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Monday (The Twins after 34 games) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand under Target Field, Twins fans Updated: May 13, 2013 - 10:10 AM

The 2011 Twins were 12-22 after 34 games, well on their way to losing 99 games. The 2012 Twins were 10-24 after 34 games, well on their way to losing 96 games. The 2013 Twins are ... 17-17.

Take it from someone who was 5-foot-1 as a high school sophomore and 5-foot-9 as a senior. Sometimes it feels good to be average.

Can the Twins keep going? Will we be 6-foot-5 someday? Maybe ... and no.

Here's a quick look at what has helped the Twins return to decency:

1) They are currently 15th in MLB in runs scored. That's squarely in the middle of the pack. Last year they were 16th. Two years ago, they were 25th. So as we know, the offense was OK last year. The pitching was horrendous. And this year, the offense has still been decent -- particularly in key spots, where the Twins are 10th in BA and 14th in slugging with RISP (as opposed to 14th and 23rd overall).

2) How much better is the pitching? Well, the Twins are still 24th in team ERA, but with a not-so-terrible 4.25 mark. It was 4.77 at the finish a year ago. Half an earned run per game means a ton. The troubling thing is Minnesota's starters are still very near the bottom of baseball with a 5.18 ERA after being next-to-last a year ago at 5.40. Much of that has to do with two-thirds of the revamped rotation (Vance Worley and Mike Pelfrey) having bloated ERAs. History suggests they will be better than they have been. History also suggests a comedown for Kevin Correia, but overall the Twins' starters should inch more toward the middle of the pack (or at least the low 20s) as the year goes on.

3) Thanks primarily to timely hits, Justin Morneau is on pace for 114 RBI. That figures to change since his power numbers aren't that great, but production from Morneau is huge. Ryan Doumit and Aaron Hicks figure to produce more than they have; Morneau and Oswaldo Arcia will likely dip. Nobody else is absurdly above or below a reasonable pace. Translation: the offense should be able to sustain middle-of-the-pack standards.

So if the offense is middle of the pack and the pitching starts moving closer to the middle of the pack -- with starters faring better and eating up more innings to spare an already taxed bullpen -- we're left with defense. The Twins have made 18 errors, sixth-fewest in the AL. They were a bottom-half team a year ago in terms of this simple metric, and at least that quick glance suggests the fielding is more like average than bad.

Decent offense, decent pitching, decent defense. It adds up to a decent record -- which, again, feels a lot better when you've been down than when you've been up.


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