The Twins’ 0-7 start has elicited varying levels of concern among Twins fans (and the Twins themselves). While nobody would suggest an 0-7 start is good (#analysis), in the context of a 162-game season there is time to recover. But if the Twins keep playing the way they’re playing, they won’t recover. And even if they improve, the hole they’ve dug in just one week is quite deep. It took an extraordinary set of circumstances for Minnesota to recover from a 1-6 start last season to have the best record in the American League at the end of May (and contend all season).
So if the question is, “Should we panic about the Twins?” the answers are varied. To illustrate that, I surveyed three local baseball bloggers for their input. I gave each of them an unrealistic goal of summing up their argument in 100 words. One of them adhered to it!
(Note: All of them wrote BEFORE closer Glen Perkins went on the DL). Here are all three:
Brandon Warne, Twins beat writer for Cold Omaha.
It’s far too soon to worry about this Twins team even at 0-7. While the track record of teams starting 0-7 is not strong, plenty of teams have been seven games under .500 at some point and come back to have success. In fact, the 1991 (2-9) and 2006 Twins (25-33) came back to not only get their seasons back on track, but post the fourth- and fifth-most wins in a single season in post-Senators club history (96 in 2006; 95 in 1991).
It’s a bad situation to be sure, but this team is too skilled to play this badly all season long. This team has struck out 30.4 percent of the time so far through seven games; just one team in MLB history – the 2013 Houston Astros — has fanned over 25 percent of the time. That’s bound to not only get better, but a lot better. And finally, there are enough moving parts to make this work. With Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco basically big-league ready and a number of guys who can play multiple positions, it’s not the death knell if this team doesn’t get production out of someone like Byung Ho Park or Eddie Rosario.
What can and may kill this offense is if Miguel Sano struggles for an extended period. In the middle of the lineup, he’s an indispensable piece to wherever this offense is heading. And while he started slow last year — .159/.303/.381 in 76 April plate appearances at Chattanooga — keep this in mind: he was coming off missing an entire season with Tommy John surgery. That’s obviously not the case here.
Seth Stohs, who writes for Twinsdaily.com and keeps a sharp eye on the Twins’ minor league system.
On one side of the coin, the Twins and their fans should absolutely worry. No team that started 0-7 in Major League history has made the playoffs. For a team that wanted to take another step forward from their surprising 83-79 record a year ago, things could not have started out worse.
It’s so cliche, but there are still 155 games left to play, so the Twins are not out of it. There is too much talent on offense. Right now Joe Mauer and Eduardo Escobar are the only guys hitting. They will strike out, but they will hit more. Hitting more will allow the pitchers some margin for error. That will help.
Right now, pitchers likely feel the need to be perfect because the offense isn’t scoring. Hitters look like they’re all trying to hit five-run home runs. Miguel Sano looks like he wants to hit the ball 600 feet. He needs to know that it’s OK to hit it just 400 feet!
The start to the 2016 season for the Minnesota Twins was not a train wreck. No, it was more like a “plane of snakes crashing into a zombie train that collides with a nuclear warhead in the middle of a populated area” wreck. And before you chime in optimistically with “it’s still early in the season” consider this: In the history of baseball, 24 teams have lost their first seven games and only two of those teams managed to finish the year with a winning record. So, historically speaking, the Twins’ odds of making a postseason are about as grounded as a Trevor May fastball.
On the other hand, MLB now has, like, nine Wild Card teams in the playoffs so there may be a glimmer of hope for the Twins despite this snake-covered radioactive zombie apocalypse of season. Here are a few early bright spots:
- Joe Mauer is doing Joe Mauer-y things at the plate. He’s even got a home run already. Last year he didn’t sock his first dinger until May 20th.
- Eduardo Escobar is out to prove that he can live up to La Velle E Neal III’s nickname.
- Miguel Sano won’t swing through everything. When he has made contact he has had an average exit velocity of 99 MPH (13th highest in baseball). Those will eventually become hits.
- Byron Buxton will eventually learn what a slider down and away is.
- Pittsburgh’s Jung Ho Kang struggled in the first half (732 OPS, 4 HR) when he came over from the KBO before figuring MLB pitching in the second half (913 OPS, 11 HR) last year. Don’t be surprised if Byung Ho Park follows the same path.
- The starting pitching hasn’t been that bad. Ervin Santana has missed plenty of bats (and he doesn’t get the luxury of pitching against his own lineup). Ricky Nolasco’s first start was actually good.
- The bullpen seems to be trying really hard, doing their best and having fun out there.
- The Twins play the oh-and-seven Atlanta Braves four times this year. Somebody has to win those games and this will be a good time to remind Braves fans that Ron Gant was clearly out.