Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Problem spot: Power

As I write this, Baseball Reference has yet to update with the results from Monday. Inasmuch as the Twins had just 10 singles in 11 innings Monday — not a single extra-base hit in Fenway Park — it hardly undermines the premise.
The Twins had a total of five extra bases hits in their
four-game series in Boston.

The Twins' slugging percentage through 32 games: .323. That's last in the American League; only Seattle — a team without the established hitters the Twins have — is within 30 points.

The Twins are also last in the AL in batting average and on-base percentage —they're last in runs scored on merit — but I want to focus on the lack of power here.

It's not that surprising that the Twins aren't hitting home runs; even last season, when they were fifth in the AL in run scored, they were below average in homers. But while Target Field limits homers, it yields doubles and triples (the 2010 Twins led the AL in three-baggers and were third in doubles, just one two-bagger out of second place).

This year? Last in homers, second worst in doubles, 10th in triples.

Jason Kubel is doing his part. Denard Span is doing his job in the leadoff spot, which doesn't include a lot of extra-base hits. But between the injuries and the slumps, nobody else is producing up to par. Not counting Trevor Plouffe and his 10 at-bats, the second highest slugging percentage on the team is .375 (Jim Thome, currently on the disabled list). The AVERAGE slugging percentage in the AL in 2010 was .407.

Can this turn around? Logically, it should. Taking J.J. Hardy and Orlando Hudson out of the lineup shouldn't take almost a hundred points off the slugging percentage.

But ... Justin Morneau's clearly not where he was before his concussion. Thome's 40 and wasn't a real good bet to replicate 2010. Danny Valencia's minor league record suggests he overproduced last season. Michael Cuddyer and Delmon Young have never than all that consistent. Nobody knows when Joe Mauer will be back.  Lord knows why anybody pitches to Kubel at this point.

And that's the pop. The rest of the roster is, as hitters, not designed to garner extra base hits. They;re supposed to get on base, run and help keep the Twins starters in the game. How well they're doing that is another matter.

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