The Most Disappointing Team in Twins History?

Justin Morneau: Disappointed.

Last season, the Minnesota Twins entered the All-Star Break with a pedestrian record of 46 wins and 42 losses, having just slipped to third place and sitting 3.5 games behind the division leader.

This season, the Twins entered the All-Star Break with a pedestrian record of 41 wins and 48 losses, having just crawled their way out of the cellar to pull within 6.5 games of the division leader.

Last season, the Twins exploded after the All-Star Break. They won nine of their last 12 games in July, then posted a .643 winning percentage in August and a .630 winning percentage in September. By September 22, they had a 12 game lead over the rest of the division.

This season, the Twins imploded after the All-Star Break. They've won just 14 of 39 games since the break, and have fallen 15 games out of first. In total, the team's -132 run differential ranks as the third-worst figure in the majors, behind just the Orioles (-140) and the Astros (-155). And at least the Orioles have a shortstop that can hit.

Watching last night's disaster got me thinking: have we ever seen a Minnesota Twins team fall so fast, so quickly? This is a team that won 94 games last season, and 87 and 88 games the two seasons before last. This was a team that entered the year viewed as either the class of the division, or, at the very least, a team good enough to compete for the division crown. Now, with just 34 games left to play, the 2011 Minnesota Twins are closer to being the worst team in baseball than the best team in their division.

So, again, my question: is this the most disappointing season in Minnesota Twins history? In an attempt to answer this subjective question, I put together three charts. I'll explain each after the jump.

First, we'll start simple. Below is a chart of the worst teams in Twins history, measured simply by wins and losses.

Note: For these charts, I wanted to compare teams that played various numbers of games (because of strikes, rainouts, one-game playoffs, etc.) but without using winning percentage (which would have made these charts much tougher to read). So, instead of using winning percentage, I used each team's winning percentage to create an expected win total based on a uniform 162-game schedule. This is the column titled "W/162."

Lowest Team Win Totals

Year

Games

Wins

W/162

1982

162

60

60

1981

110

41

61

1999

161

63

63

1995

144

56

63

1997

162

68

68

2000

162

69

69

2011

128

55

70

1998

162

70

70

1983

162

70

70

1961

161

70

71

After Tuesday night's loss, the Twins currently sport a .430 winning percentage, which puts them on pace to win just 70 games this season. That means the Twins are heading towards one of their 10 worst seasons of their 51 year run in Minnesota. (You'll notice that four of the team's 10 worst seasons came during the second half of the 1990s.)

But, of course, just losing a bunch of games doesn't make a team disappointing. If a team went from 56 wins in one season to 64 wins in the next, it would be hard to call them a disappointment, even if the team remained terrible.

So our next chart looks at the single-biggest season-to-season collapses in Twins history. For this, we'll just simple subtract a team's adjusted win total ("W/162") from their adjusted win total during the previous season.

Biggest One-Season Drop in W%

Year

Games

Actual Wins

W/162

Prev. W/162

Difference

2011

128

55

70

94

-24

1971

160

74

75

98

-23

1993

162

71

71

90

-19

2007

162

79

79

96

-17

1981

110

41

61

77

-17

1966

162

89

89

102

-13

1995

144

56

63

76

-13

1964

163

79

79

92

-12

1968

162

79

79

91

-12

1978

162

73

73

85

-12

1989

162

80

80

91

-11

As shown in the chart above, if the Twins keep winning games at a .430 pace, they'll finish the season with 70 wins, a drop of 24 games from their previous season. That would be the biggest single-season collapse in team history.

But remember, the 2010 Twins were not a one-year wonder. The Twins were awfully good in 2008 and 2009, as well, which has made this year's collapse all the more surprising. So I decided to make one more chart, this time comparing each team in Twins history to their average win totals from their three previous seasons. This way we can find teams that fell apart after a period of sustained success.

Biggest W% Drop From Previous Three-Season Average

Year

Games

Actual Wins

W/162

Avg. W/162 over prev. 3 years

Difference

2011

128

55

70

89

-19

1981

110

41

61

77

-16

1971

160

74

75

91

-16

1995

144

56

63

79

-16

1993

162

71

71

86

-15

1968

162

79

79

94

-15

1982

162

60

60

73

-13

1990

162

74

74

85

-11

2007

162

79

79

90

-11

1994

113

53

76

85

-9

1978

162

73

73

82

-9

Between 2008 and 2010, the Minnesota Twins averaged 89 wins (after making our 162-game adjustment). This season, they're on pace to win 70 games. That, too, would rank as the biggest collapse in Twins history.

Judging solely by these measurements, it sure seems as if we may be watching the most disappointing squad in our team's history. But it's important to recognize that we've only looked at regular season performance so far. If we take into account post-season records as well, we find there is one other team that could fight for the title of most disappointing in team history.

Between 1965 and 1970, the Minnesota Twins were routinely among the best teams in baseball. The team lost to the Dodgers in the 1965 World Series, and reached the ALCS in both 1969 and 1970 (after winning 97 and 98 games, respectively). Then, in 1971, the winning stopped. The team won just 74 games that year, a big enough drop to rank second and third on the last two charts above. In fact, beginning with that year, the Twins wouldn't make the postseason again until 1987.

There's still plenty of ball to play this season, so we probably shouldn't be writing any post-mortems on the season quite yet. Who knows, perhaps the Twins will play .600 ball over our final 34 games, finish with 75 wins, and merely go down in the books as just another bad ball club. But isn't it good to know as we suffer through the end of a terrible, awful, painful season, that we might just be watching a little slice of team lore: the most disappointing team in Twins history.

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