Who is really the best baseball team in the majors? I honestly don't know but I try to figure that out by using basic and advanced statistics. I live for talking about baseball, it's my biggest drive in my life and I will jump on the opportunity to talk baseball with anyone, even with people who I don't really like. For me, Baseball is a piece of art that sits in my mind all day, ready to be painted on at any point of the day.

Monday, February 14, 2011

30 Teams: Minnesota Twins

By Mike Moritz

After getting swept yet again in the first round of the playoffs, the Twins began to lose some bullpen and infield structure. They lost important relievers in Jesse Crain (White Sox), Ron Mahay (Dodgers), Brian Fuentes (Athletics) and Matt Guerrier (Dodgers) as well as second baseman Orlando Hudson, whom GM Bill Smith later filled in with Tsuyoshi Nishioka.

The Twins typical struggles in against the Yankees continued again in 2010. After trailing 3-0 going into the top of the 6th in Minnisota, the Yanks came back with four runs of their own and in the 7th inning, Mark Teixeira hit a long three-run homer that just went around the right-field foul poll that sealed the deal for Game One. The series might as well have ended there as the Yankees won Game Two 5-2 and Game Three 6-1. Check out this intesting article from fangraphs.com about the Twins perpetual struggles against the Yanks, click here.

Now, you must understand that even though they lost all of their bullpen support, they still have a strong starting rotation (4.10 xFIP in 2010), good defense (38.4 UZR) and a great offense (34.2 offensive WAR). It's not like they lost Joe Mauer or anything.

Justin Morneau was on pase for a career year in 2010, that is, until he got a concussion and hit the DL for the rest of the season. In 81 games and 348 PA, Morneau had 18 homers, 25 doubles and a .345/.437/.618/.447 stat line. And his great season was not all 'luck', which might be suggested with his massive .385 BABIP. Looking a little deeper, 2010 looks to be no fluke:


Maybe the 36 homers that he was on pace was a little non-Morneau-like, I see him more like a 30 homer guy, then again, 6 home runs is not that big of a difference. And obviously a .345 average is bound to regress a little bit but he looks to be a .300+ hitter for this year. But this is questionable obviously because he is coming off an injury in which he only started doing baseball activities about two weeks ago.

The signing of Tsuyoshi Nishioka for three years and $10 million was a notable move. I really don't know that much about him. He is coming in from Japan, will be playing 2nd base and hits from the left side. He led the Japanese league in hitting with a .347 average and 11 homers. Apart from that, I don't know that much about him. He's a wild card to me. Maybe the next Kosuke Fukudome. But the signing was awarded 'Best Signing' by Fangraphs in this post.

Joe Mauer's absurd 2009 season also displayed a huge jump in home runs. No one thought that it would happen, that he would hit 28 home runs! He then dropped back down to 9 homers last season. In 2009, his HR/FB was by far a career high for him, 20.4%. His career mark is 10.6%. His fly ball rates have been about the same for his whole career. I say 9-13 homers, his typical homer total. 

My opinion has already been expressed on Jim Thome, if you have not read that post, click here.

I really do not think that the Twins's bullpen loss will be that big of a hit to them. They still have a decent one anyways. Joe Nathan is coming back and we can only hope that he was as good as he was before the surgery. The offence and defense should be back and the same as it was last year.

Maybe the Twins can flip the coin and beat the Yankees a couple times, but I hope not.

(Stats in courtesy of: fangraphs.comespn.com and japaneseballplayers.com)

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