AL Central: The Central Question

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The Daily Pitch, USA Today’s baseball blog, asks it: Are the Indians this good and the Twins this bad?

Yes, the Indians have played a lot of games against sub-.500 teams, but their offense is clicking (2nd most runs/game in AL), and their pitching (and defense) has been good (3rd lowest runs allowed in the AL after the A’s and Angels, who have both had lights-out pitching so far). We’ll see, but the Tribe’s youngsters have been good.

As for the Twins: dismal. Worst run differential in MLB (-64 after only 27 games!), lowest runs scored (3.15/game, which is 26.5% below the MLB scoring average of 4.29/game). And they have a host of other problems (Liriano, Pavano, middle infield), and the Daily Pitch piece bullet points some of them for us:

Minnesota’s list of problems are lengthy, and include:

  • Joe Mauer’s absence. The former MVP and three-time batting champ last played April 12 but says he is finally improving after losing 15 pounds because of a viral infection. However there is no timetable for his return.
  • Justin Morneau’s struggles. Another former MVP, he is batting .232 with a .612 OPS and has yet to hit a home run this season. [He hit his 1st on Sunday, actually, but still…]  Morneau went nearly eight months with minimal baseball activity as he recovered from a concussion and then had a short spring training to prepare for the season. It’s possible he just needs time — at a time when the Twins need him most, though.
  • Woeful pitching [yeah, that’s ERA-ranked, but in terms of xFIP it ain’t much prettier, but not quite as sucky as it could be, and Brian Duensing has surprisingly not sucked as badly as everyone else, so go figure]. Francisco Liriano has a 9.13 ERA, Joe Nathan has yet to regain his closer role, Carl Pavano and Nick Blackburn have combined to go 3-6 with a 5.12 ERA.
  • Lack of productivity from the bottom third of the order: As a result of injuries to Mauer and second baseman Tusyoshi Nishioka, the Twins have been rolling out replacements such as Luke Hughes and Drew Butera. Combined with shortstop Alexi Casilla they have filled the 7-8-9 spots in the lineup on most days and are hitting a combined .185 with nine RBI and five extra-base hits.

Written by jjvedamuthu

May 2, 2011 at 10:42

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