Sunday, August 16, 2009

How can this be?

Here's a tangent I didn't follow for Monday's print column:

Denard Span (left) isn't the best leadoff hitter in baseball — there's Ichiro, and Derek Jeter, and Chone Figgins, each of whom have slightly better stats this season than Span, plus longer track records — but he's in the discussion.

And yet the Twins are just seventh in the American League in runs scored by their No. 1 hitter (79).

I find this inexplicable. Span's on-base percentage is .383, which is 15th best in the league; he has, behind him, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. He should be among the league leaders in runs scored. He's only tied for 23rd.

Mauer, who missed an entire month, has scored more runs. Michael Cuddyer, with an OPB 41 points lower than Span's, who generally has the unproductive likes of Joe Crede and Delmon Young behind him, has scored the same amount of runs as Span.

The Twins lead the league in runs scored by their No. 3 hitter (generally Mauer or Morneau; each of them has scored 39 runs from the three-hole); they're third in runs scored by the No. 4 and 5 hitters (Morneau, Jason Kubel and Cuddyer).

But the sixth hitters — mostly Cuddyer and Crede — have just 54 runs, 11th in the 14-team league. That makes sense; Crede has a low OBP, and there's not much at the tail end of the lineup to drive him in when he does reach base.

But then they're second in runs scored by the No. 7 hitter, and explain that one. Their No. 5 hitters have scored 65 runs, the No. 6 hitters 54, and No. 7 hitters 62. It's split up so many ways ... Young has 16, Carlos Gomez 11, Crede 11. Then you have a handful from the likes of Brendan Harris, Cuddyer, Brian Buscher, Mike Redmond, yada yada yada. And you have to wonder — who's driving in these guys? Nick Punto?

No surprise here — the Twins are also near the bottom in runs scored by the No. 2 and No. 9 hitters. Alexi Casilla and Nick Punto bear that responsibility. Mauer has 29 runs out of the No. 2 hole; that's 43 percent of the runs the Twins have gotten from that lineup spot.

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