Many of us figured looking at Twins batting statistics this season would require a certain amount of intestinal fortitude, if not outright courage. But a lineup that looked weak entering spring training, and didn’t improve much in Florida, has instead proved to to be an early boon to the team — and has provided fascinating daily gleaning for those inclined to take a look at the odd numbers. Here are some of the more peculiar hitting stats through the season’s first 19 games, which excludes Wednesday’s game in Tampa:
• Brian Dozier has just 17 hits and 13 walks to go with one hit by pitch … but he has scored 20 runs, which is the most of any player in the majors. Some of that stems from his six home runs. But that means in his other 25 times on base, he has scored 14 times. Now, part of that comes from his speed and aggressive baserunning. It’s crazy, though, for a player who is seventh on his own team in on-base percentage to lead MLB in runs scored.
• The Twins, as a team, lead the American League in walks (97) and on-base percentage (.348). Individually, they have five players in the top 20 in walks, all of whom have reached double-digits. They also have four players in the top 15 in on-base percentage (Josmil Pinto, Trevor Plouffe, Jason Kubel and Chris Colabello).
On-base percentage is the single biggest difference between last year’s offense, which was 13th in the AL in runs scored, and this year’s, which is third. The team’s batting average (.247 this year vs. .242 a year ago) and slugging percentage (.381 vs. .380) are very similar, but the OBP jump to .348 from .312, combined with a slightly higher average with runners in scoring position (.253 vs. .225) make a huge difference.
• The offense has thrived without much help from Joe Mauer. He leads the team in strikeouts (24, which puts him on pace for an unfathomable 205 whiffs this year), and five regulars have an on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) at least 100 points higher than Mauer’s mark of .676.
• The big home run hitters are not the big RBI guys. Dozier and Pinto have combined for 10 homers … but just 16 RBI between them. The rest of the roster has six homers and 74 RBI.
• Colabello, who leads the AL in RBI with 22 and is tied for the league lead with nine doubles, has been the master of capitalizing on opportunities so far. He’s hitting a respectable .281 with the bases empty, but with runners on base he is batting .400 (16 for 40). When he puts the ball in play with runners on base, his batting average is .556.