Too Many Ducks on the Pond: A Deeper Dive into the Twins' Bases Loaded Woes

Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

Hi Twinkie Town! Long time lurker, first time poster.

TeamCrazyMatt wrote a nice post on the 2019 Twins’ troubles hitting with the bases loaded, but since I’m a bit of a stats nerd, I wanted to dive a little deeper into the underlying numbers to see what’s driving their historic futility in these situations. And make no mistake, the 2019 Twins’ failures with the bases loaded has indeed been historic! Using Fangraphs’ nifty Splits Leaderboards tool, I compared every team’s overall OPS to their OPS with the bases loaded for every season going back to 2002 (which is as far back as the Splits Leaderboard goes), and out of the 540 data points, the 2019 Twins have the worst OPS differential by a looooooong shot.

Worst Overall OPS vs. Bases Loaded OPS Differential (since 2002)


Overall OPS

Bases Loaded OPS

OPS Differential

2019 Twins




2014 Dodgers




2002 Phillies




2002 Marlins




2013 Dodgers




That’s really bad! To put it into perspective, the gap between the 2019 Twins and the second worst team, the 2014 Dodgers, is about the same as the gap between the second worst and ninth worst team.

Now here’s the part where I attempt to turn your frown upside-down. First of all, one reason why the bases loaded OPS differential is so large for the 2019 Twins is because their overall OPS is really really high! From the scatterplot, you can see that there are only two data points that have a better overall OPS than the 2019 Twins (if you’re curious, those two points are the 2003 Red Sox and the 2009 Yankees, both very good teams). Secondly, let’s consider BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play). BABIP can be a good indicator of luck; a really high BABIP usually indicates that a batter is getting unusually lucky, and a really low BABIP usually points to bad luck. The 2019 Twins overall BABIP is a pretty reasonable .299, whereas their bases loaded BABIP is a paltry .226. This indicates that the Twins have been getting very unlucky when they put the bat on the ball with the bases loaded.

When I saw how low the Twins’ bases loaded BABIP was, one of my first thoughts was that they must be making much weaker contact than normal with the bases loaded. To check this, I looked at the difference in batted ball profiles for the Twins (again, overall vs. bases loaded).

Batted Ball Profile

2019 Twins














Bases Loaded







The first thing I noticed here is that the Twins are actually making hard contact with the ball and hitting line drives with the bases loaded at the same rate as normal! The major differences are that they’re hitting fewer fly balls and more ground balls with the bases loaded, and they’re making less medium contact and more soft contact with the bases loaded. This increase in soft contact and ground balls would explain some of the drop in BABIP with the bases loaded, but the fact that their hard contact rate stayed the same is another indication that their failures with the bases loaded can be largely attributed to bad luck. Two recent examples that come to mind are both from that bonkers 14-12 loss to the Yankees: Polanco’s ninth inning bases loaded line drive right at the left fielder, and Kepler’s game ending shot that was miraculously tracked down by some no-name scrub center fielder.

Anyway, to make a long post longer, I just wanted to point out how historically bad this season has been for the Twins so far with the bases loaded, but hopefully I’ve also provided some faith to Twins fans that a lot of this can be attributed to bad luck and should eventually turn around. And if it doesn’t, at least the 2019 Twins will have one more crazy stat to put in the record books!

Go Twins!