published Monday, August 29th - 10:31pm

The 2011 Twins are going to be the first team in the 51-year history of the franchise to play a season without spending one day at .500 or above. That's more a quirk than anything, since some of those miserable teams in the early '80s and later in the '90s saw .500 very early and then faded into oblivion.

There are two other factors that will give this team an ignominious place in Minnesota's major league history:

*The 2011 club appears headed for the largest drop off in wins from one full season to the next for any Twins' team.

*The 2011 club will score the fewest runs of any Twins' team in a full season since 1968. That was a season when pitching was so dominant across the major leagues that baseball lowered the legal height of the mound from 15 inches to 10 for the 1969 season.

The most-dramatic previous drop off in wins occurred in 1970-71, when the Twins went from winning the AL West with a 98-64 record in 1970, to 74-86 and finishing fifth of six in 1971.

The Twins won a sixth AL Central title in nine years with a 94-68 record in 2010. Monday night's shutout loss in Chicago left the 2011 Twins at 56-78. They will have to go 14-14 over the final 28 games, or these Twins will exceed the plunge of 24 wins that took place in 1971.

The current Twins have scored 510 runs in 134 games. That's an average of 3.8 runs per game. If the Twins maintain that feeble pace the rest of the way, they will finish with 617 runs.

Take away the strike years (1972, 1981, 1994 and 1995) that shortened the schedule and you have to go back to the 562 runs of 1968 to find a lower total.

Again, what will distinguish the 2011 Twins will be the drop off. They scored a robust 781 runs playing half the schedule in Target Field a year ago. If this bunch keeps the run total to 619 or fewer, the Twins will have scored a full one run per game fewer than in 2010.

Remarkable as it is for a team to score one run fewer per game that its immediate predecessor, this will not set a negative record for the Twins.

In 1977, the Twins established what was at the time a club record by scoring 867 runs. Then, Larry Hisle, Lyman Bostock and others left as free agents, and the Twins scored 666 runs (a decline of 201) in 1978.

The 2011 Twins also are challenging history in run differential. They currently stand at a minus-147 - 657 allowed, 510 scored.

It's going to be tough for the Twins to surpass the ineptitude of the '95 Twins, a team that had a differential of minus 186, with 703 runs scored and 889 allowed.

What was amazing about the '95 Twins was accomplishing this in a season where the first 18 games on the schedule were lost to a strike. Yes, the '95 Twins allowed 889 runs in 144 games.

They also finished 56-88 and 44 games behind Cleveland in the first-ever AL Central race that was played to completion. (Note: The change to three divisions per league started in 1994, but the season was stopped by a players strike on Aug. 11).

So, when someone tells you the 2011 Twins are the worst collection ever, you would be correct to respond: "Close, but check out 1995 before taking that to the bank.''