I grew up in Cleveland and now root for the Chicago White Sox. As the playoffs approach, let’s face it: I’m much more at home at the bottom than at the top. I imagine fans of the Minnesota Twins can relate.
So as my esteemed colleagues cover all of the angles coming into the playoffs, I am performing autopsies on the also-rans, including the Minnesota Twins.
A couple of parameters: I’m using the records of the teams to determine the order of discussion, worst to…not the worst. There are some teams that had no thought on contending this year. They are not nearly the disappointment that the teams that hoped to contend are.
After we look at all of the non-playoff teams, they will be ranked. Statistics will play an important part in the final ranking of who is the worst of the worst, but high expectations followed by bitter disappointment will also be part of the equation.
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The first team to cover is the Minnesota Twins. The Twins can’t be seen as much of a disappointment this year. Their sights are set for 2018 at the earliest. As much as I loathe it, the incentive to lose is quite real and the Minnesota Twins have embraced it, in hopes of a better tomorrow. Tomorrow can only get better.
The Twins had the second worst run differential in the majors, -176, only trailed by the Phillies. Speaking of the Phillies, Philadelphia was one of two teams that the Minnesota Twins had winning records against, including the Marlins.
Every one else pretty much had their way with Minnesota.
What really killed the Minnesota Twins? It wasn’t the offense, though they were pretty below league average in OBP with .317. As far as slugging and OPS, they were pretty much league average. They were also just a tick (with a couple of games to play I know) above average in home runs.
The defense? Now we are on to something. The Twins had the worst defensive efficiency .661 in the American League, the most errors at 126 and the worst total zone total fielding runs above average at -80. I’m not even quite sure what that last one means, but I know negative 80 is almost never good.
Pitching, while certainly not aided by the poor defense, wasn’t particularly good either. They were below league average in strikeouts, they led the league in home runs allowed and the worst ERA+.
The opposition was pretty much teeing up on Twins’ pitchers, not striking out much and hitting it to a porous defense. A pretty good way to get over 100 losses.
The Minnesota Twins will have a good draft position and modern history points to an ability to judge talent. However, recent years there is some area of concern, especially concerning Byron Buxton. Though only 22, it seems like he has been the future of the Twins for quite a while.
The way he was handled over the course of 2016 raises doubts to whether or not the Twins are capable of grooming players for the major leagues. A new executive team is coming, starting with Derek Falvey coming over from Cleveland might be a good start.