The Minnesota Twins started the season firing on all cylinders and people were finally coming back to this team and a fun summer was underway in Twins Territory. Over the last week or so the Twins have started to struggle more than they have all year, and now those fans are angry at the world. The team obviously isn’t playing their best baseball right now, but I’m here with some positive notes on why it will be better soon.
If there is one thing I am certainly not concerned with right now it is the offense. After the dull loss to the Royals in game one I did some digging and found some interesting stuff from the last week. Over the last week, the Twins have actually had a better hard hit% (48.5%) than they had up until this week (41.0%). To go with that they have also lowered their soft hit%. That has been at 15.2% over this week and it was at 16.4% just before this “June swoon”. Their batting average on balls in play (BABIP) has not risen with these stats which simply means the Twins have been very unlucky with hits.
Of course something has to be going wrong and that thing happens to be plate discipline. Strikeouts have increased but only by about 2.4%. To go with the strikeouts, the Twins have swung at more pitches outside the zone but they have also swung at more pitches in the zone. They have even been walking more lately! I can’t find anything substantial on this offense and yet they have still dropped from 5.8 runs per game to 3.1 over this week. Basically what I am saying is stay calm and wait it out because it will even itself out.
Over this stretch there has been one noticeable thing that has taken more than a few steps back and that has been the defense. The Twins went from just 7.1% of the runs given up being unearned to having 20% of the runs being unearned over the last week. 14 errors over the last 8 games is not ideal after committing just 29 in the first 66 games. We’re not the Mariners, but it has still been bad lately.
The team ERA and FIP have actually both gotten better due to those stats excluding bad fielding to a certain extent. The hard hit% against the Twins has gone up by just a few ticks but the BABIP has actually gone down. Most of the pitching struggles boil down to guys like Sean Poppen just sacrificing himself while giving up runs and bad fielding all around. Replacing Jake Cave (-0.1 UZR and -1 outs above average) with Byron Buxton (9.3 UZR and 11 outs above average) is not ideal. Losing Marwin Gonzalez and Ehire Adrianza also doesn’t help when your infield replacements are Miguel Sano and Willians Astudillo.
Overall, don’t overreact
Every team goes through some sort of slide and with this 5-5 stretch being the worst baseball all year for the Twins, it is safe to say we are having a special season. Minnesota is still the only team in all of baseball without a three game losing streak and they have a run differential of +107. The postseason is still at 98.9% to make it and at 7.4% to win the World Series per baseball reference. Enjoy the ride this summer and keep cheering for the best team in baseball.