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Updated: May 2nd, 2011 10:42pm
Numbers game: What's wrong with the Twins? Well, everything

Numbers game: What's wrong with the Twins? Well, everything

by Phil Mackey
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Numbers game is an extension of the Twins Daily section, where we dive a little deeper into stats, trends, sabermetrics, and basically make peoples' heads explode.

This week's mini series against the Chicago White Sox was supposed to be a massive early-season test for the Minnesota Twins.

Well, it is.

But instead of jockeying for American League Central supremacy in early May, the Twins -- and White Sox -- find themselves scratching to simply stay out of the cellar.

And based on how they played through the first 27 games, the cellar was almost unavoidable.

To put it simply, the Twins really aren't doing anything well.

1: Teams that have scored fewer runs than the Twins

Heading into Monday's games, only the San Diego Padres had scored fewer runs (84) than the Twins (85) so far this season. In fact, through 27 games the Twins have scored more than five runs only once.


The 2010 squad scored six runs or more nine times by May 1.

Considering the Twins were the sixth-highest scoring team in baseball last season despite playing in one of the least hitter-friendly parks, the offensive futility is shocking.

Of course, losing Joe Mauer, Delmon Young and Tsuyoshi Nishioka for long stretches has made a big difference, but the ineptitude runs much deeper than just injuries.

.292: The Twins' team on-base percentage

Only the Orioles (.290) have reached base less.

To put it into perspective, only eight qualified major league hitters posted lower on-base percentages than .292 in 2010.

Of course, in 2010 the Twins posted the second highest team OBP (.341) thanks in large part to a more patient approach at the plate -- the Twins drew the seventh most walks last season -- and a collective team batting average of .273.

In 2010, the Twins have neither walked (23rd) nor hit (.230, ranked 27th).

Of the 16 Twins players with 100 plate appearances or more in 2010, 13 posted on-base percentages above .300, and three posted OBPs above .400 (Mauer, Justin Morneau, Jim Thome).

Among the 16 Twins players who have tallied at least one plate appearance in 2011, only three have on-base percentages of .300 or higher in 2011 so far (Thome, Denard Span, Jason Kubel).

It's tough to score runs without baserunners.

67: Players who would currently lead the Twins in home runs

Michael Cuddyer is the team leader with three home runs, but there are 67 hitters in baseball with four home runs or more -- including Alfonso Soriano and Ryan Braun, who each have 10.

The Twins have 12 home runs as a team -- the fewest in baseball.

And don't blame the ballpark. The power outage runs much deeper.

Despite playing home games in the Grand Canyon, the Twins hit the third most doubles as a team last year. This season, they've smacked the sixth fewest two-baggers.

0: Pitching staffs with a higher team ERA than the Twins

It's bound to improve as the season rolls on, but the Twins enter Tuesday's series with a 5.06 team ERA -- the worst mark in baseball.

Considering runs are at more of a premium in 2011 than at any point in recent history, posting an ERA over 5.00 in the season's first month is completely egregious, but not a surprise, considering the Twins' peripheral numbers.

A staff that walked the fewest batters in 2010 (2.37 per nine innings) has handed out the fourth most in 2011 (3.64). And a staff that already walked a thin line in the strikeout department last year (6.49 walks per nine, fifth fewest) has fallen into dangerous territory this season (5.82, fewest).

And yes, that whole pitch to contact thing is apparent -- only three teams have allowed more contact than the Twins this season (17% whiff rate).

.343: Opposing teams' batting average when making contact

When hitters make contact (in fair territory) against Twins pitchers, they have hit .343 with a .558 slugging percentage, including 31 home runs allowed (sixth most).

Then again, from a league-wide standpoint, when MLB hitters make contact (in fair territory) they hit .325 with a .508 slugging percentage.

So maybe actively seeking contact isn't such a great idea ...

-64: The Twins' run differential

According to Pythagorean wins, the Twins should actually be 7-20 instead of 9-18.


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