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Updated: May 27th, 2012 6:23pm
Numbers game: Twins pitchers on pace for historically bad season

Numbers game: Twins pitchers on pace for historically bad season

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by Phil Mackey

Disclaimer: Numbers Game is a place where we dive a little deeper into stats, trends, sabermetrics, and basically make peoples' heads explode.

MINNEAPOLIS -- Credit to Minnesota Twins right-hander P.J. Walters, who pitched out of his self-inflicted jams all afternoon to hold the Detroit Tigers to only two runs in six innings.

Walters' quality start on Sunday was just the 15th by a Twins pitcher this season.

Of course it's probably only fitting that one of the few solid starts of the season went to waste when closer Matt Capps blew his first save after feeding an 0-2, belt-high fastball to Miguel Cabrera who ripped a two-run, go-ahead bomb.

Such is the life of a 15-32 baseball team.

It's one thing to be bad, which the Twins are.

It's another thing to be historically bad -- which the Twins could be.

Twins pitchers, that is.

910: The amount of runs Twins pitchers are on pace to surrender. Including the Washington Senators, only three times in franchise history has a Twins or Senators team given up 900 runs in a season -- the 1996 Twins (900), 1935 Senators (903) and 1956 Senators (924).

The Twins had 11 pitchers start at least one game for that 1996 squad, and only Brad Radke (4.46) posted an ERA under 5.00. Travis Miller actually started seven games with a 9.23 ERA, and LaTroy Hawkins made six starts with an 8.20 ERA.

.321/.367/.548: Opposing hitters entered Sunday with this slash line (batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage) against Twins starting pitchers -- equivalent to facing Carlos Gonzalez or Robinson Cano every at-bat.

Think about that...

.232/.295/.361: The slash line for opposing hitters against Twins relievers. That's roughly equivalent to facing Clint Barmes every at-bat. Much better.

.353: The batting average for opposing hitters on contact -- balls hit into fair territory. That includes roughly 3.5 extra-base hits per game on average.

The whole "pitch-to-contact" meme is usually vastly overplayed. Contrary to popular thought, Minnesota Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson doesn't demand that his pitchers pitch to the barrel of opponents' bats. But that doesn't change the fact that Twins pitchers pitch to more contact (83%) than any staff in baseball, which makes it almost impossible to hold opposing teams off the scoreboard.

1: The number of times a Twins starter has pitched more than seven innings. By comparison, Phillies starters have gone more than seven innings 11 times. They've pitched exactly seven innings another 17 times.

30: The number of times (in 47 games) a Twins starter has allowed four runs or more in an outing. Considering how rarely a Twins starter will go deep into a ballgame, allowing four runs makes it very difficult for the offense to play catch-up.

19: The number of times a Twins starter has struck out two batters or fewer in a start.

67: Home runs allowed by Twins pitchers -- the most of any staff. Heading into Sunday nine teams had allowed fewer than 40. If they continue on this current pace Twins pitchers will allow 231 home runs. No team has allowed that many home runs since the 2004 Cincinnati Reds.

1: Only one pitching staff has issued fewer walks than the Twins (Phillies), which is really one of the only saving graces for a staff that otherwise gets battered more often than not.

Phil Mackey is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
In this story: Matt Capps, P.J. Walters