Season in Review: Minnesota Twins

A continuation of the series of retrospectives looking back at the regular season and how teams fared. They will be presented, from first to last, in order of their run differential as given by the BaseRuns formula and adjusted for strength of schedule, which I feel is the best measurement of a team’s actual talent level.

Number Fifteen: Minnesota Twins

With the trade of Johan Santana away from Minnesota and the trade of Miguel Cabrera to Detroit, Minnesota’s chances were mostly dismissed in the face of Cleveland’s defending crown and Detroit’s vamped up offense. Ironically, it was Chicago that proved to be the ultimate dark horse in the AL Central. Nonetheless, the Twins made a strong run for the division title backed by a remarkable 34-18 record in games decided by five runs or more.

It certainly wasn’t from anything sustainable as the Twins offense ranked just 15th and run prevention just 21st. Although 15th doesn’t come off too impressive, it was a big step up from 2007 as Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer both took steps forward and Nick Punto managed to upgrade from being one of the worst hitters in baseball with his .210/.291/.271 line to a serviceable .283/.343/.381 in 2008. Those three combined to add about sixty runs over 2007.

They would need those sixty runs because the pitching, absent Johan Santana, would slide backward a bit. The bullpen also lost the significant contribution provided by Pat Neshak last season and Matt Guerrier went from a strikeout-to-walk ratio over three to under two and also saw increased home runs allowed.

Francisco Liriano was supposed to be a cover for Santana’s departure, but his long rehab stint in the minors kept him from adding too many innings to the major league rotation. Nick Blackburn and Kevin Slowey were useful additions though and portend good things for Minnesota’s future.

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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.

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If the Twins had a competent DH they would have easily taken the central this year. Hell they could have waited to the last possible month of the season, signed Bonds, made the post season, and left him off the post season roster.

I don’t like Bonds, I don’t think what he had done over the years is right. But I also don’t think the MSM gives him a fair shake. I forget where I saw the list, but several teams sent the equivalent of a 2nd basemen to the plate as a DH for a majority of the season. Politics and personality aside I’m pretty sure Bonds could have done a little better as a DH.