Tuesday, September 22, 2009

How are they doing this? [Minnesota Twins]

Take a good look at the Twins right now.

Their cleanup hitter is out for the year. They're playing their right fielder at first base, a position he's never played regularly at any level. They're playing another right fielder in left field, even though he's a disaster defensively and has a .291 on-base percentage. Meanwhile, they're playing their designated hitter in right field, even though he's playing on two bad knees and moves around at the speed of smell.

At designated hitter, they have a rookie third-string catcher. At third base, they have a .210 hitter who literally is a one-tool player, as long as you count "running hard on infield groundouts" as a tool. At second base, they have a .240 hitter whose skill set is similar to the third baseman's.

Shortstop is a guy who came over in a mid-season trade, who's hitting .244 since his arrival and who's below-average in the field. The backup infielders are a pair of mediocre-hitting third basemen, neither of whom you'd trust to pinch-hit. The fourth outfielder is a speedy guy who's great in the field but useless at the plate, and has trouble remembering to hit the cutoff man. When you see the backup catcher hit, field, or run, you're strongly reminded of the Tin Man.

The starting rotation consists of a guy who went to hell at the All-Star break and has shown only flashes since, a guy who got traded for spare parts by the Indians, and two rookies who couldn't hack it in the bullpen. Oh, and there's the #1 starter, who tends to give up four runs in the fifth or sixth inning every time he pitches.

In the bullpen, you've got a closer who may or may not have a dead arm, a lefty who the Royals gave up on, a righty whose stuff is less impressive than his height and neck tattoo, and another young lefty who ate his way off the team in spring training. There's also about four guys who have been back and forth between the minors and the majors this year and a failed starter or two.

Yet the Twins have won seven of eight, their best streak of the year. They're two and a half games back of Detroit, and are - yes - in a pennant race.

I don't know if it's just the weak schedule, or if Ron Gardenhire is a witch, or what's going on here, but the lineup card reads like the cast of Major League, and yet the Twins are - honestly, legitimately, wonderfully - making a charge.

How are they doing this?

1 comment:

Dan said...

Two Words: Joe Mauer

When you have a catcher that is having probably the best offensive season ANY catcher has ever had, that makes up for a lot of lost offense.