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Fatigue and Travel Days

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In last night's 4-0 loss in Texas, saying the Twins offense was lethargic would be quite an understatement. Only a Joe Mauer single in the ninth inning prevented the AL's league leading hitting team (.280 team batting average after last night) from being no hit altogether. Obviously, the Texas Rangers pitchers, starting with Rich Harden, deserve a lot of credit. But it seems fatigue on the part of the Twins players may have also played a part, especially in the Texas heat of August. With the lack of an off day after the nine game (7-2) home stand, I wondered about how the Twins have performed in the first game of road series when there has not been a travel day beforehand.

The results are provided after jump, they may surprise you.

Overall on the season, the Twins are 8-10 in the first game of road series without an off day for travel. With an overall 32-31 road record, this is pretty much in line with expectations. From a runs scored / allowed perspective, the Twins are +14 (91 scored vs 77 allowed), but that is skewed by the 19-1 drubbing at Kansas City. Again, roughly in line. But the record is much different before and after interleague play began in June. Before June 18th, when the team was presumably fresher, the Twins went 6-3 in these road openers. After June 18th, the Twins are 2-7, with the only two wins coming against two pretty bad teams in Baltimore (pre Buck Showalter) and Kansas City. So there's evidence that fatigue may be an issue.

I compared to last season, looking to see if this was a pattern. In 2009, the Twins went 8-10 in these road openers, consistent with an overall 38-43 road record. But last year, we did not see the same first half - second half split, with a 4-6 record in April - June and a 3-4 record from July - September, although two of the second half wins came after the dog days of July and August.

These aren't the most surprising records, I would suspect any Major League team suffers a bit from fatigue and travel as the season progresses. And although it may be due to small sample sizes, I was surprised at how extreme the 2010 splits are for the Twins. Fortunately for Minnesota, the rest of the 2010 schedule is much more kind. Of five remaining road openers, the Twins have off days before three of them. Only this Friday's game in Seattle (traveling from Texas), and the September 27th game in Kansas City (traveling from Detroit) look like problems.