If you’re still scratching your head trying to figure out how the Twins are 28-18 after a 1-6 start and four consecutive 92-loss seasons, here are a couple of charts that explain the “what,” if not the “why.”
First off, the Twins through 46 games have done a great job jumping on teams early. It’s not sure your imagination: in 16 of 46 games this season, the Twins have had a lead after the first inning. That’s more than one-third of the games, a staggering number. By comparison, I looked at 2015 to date and four other seasons in Twins history — 2012 (a 96-loss season), 2010 and 2006 (a pair of division-winning seasons) and 1991 (the team’s last World Series title) — to see how they compare. Scoring early is definitely a dominant trait of the 2015 Twins so far:
But the Twins haven’t just scored early — they’ve built onto or at least held onto those leads very well. To illustrate that, I charted the number of innings per game the Twins have had the lead this year and those other four seasons. The results again show how the 2015 Twins have had the lead a lot — even more than in their best seasons of the past 25 years:
Interestingly enough, as good as the Twins have been at getting a first-inning lead, they’ve been even more prolific at scoring in the second and third innings. They have 25 runs this year in the first (meaning that a lot of those 16 early leads have been one-run leads), while they’ve scored 37 runs in the second and 41 in the third. Add it up and they’ve scored 103 runs in the first three innings — almost as many as the 105 total they’ve scored in innings 4-9. Playing with a lead breeds confidence and gives starting pitchers room to breathe. The results have added up to a great start to the 2015 season.