Tuesday, June 2, 2015

'May 32,' 2015

There was much hubbub about the Twins winning 20 games in May and exiting the month with the best record (barely) in the American League. Paul Molitor made a joke Sunday about Monday being May 32.

And then Monday turned into a rainout in Boston, and the Astros won, so now it's Houston that has the best record in the American League. Which is also a "how the lowly have risen" story, considering that the Astros have had a worse record that even the Twins each of the past four years.

Having the best record on June 1 or June 2 is better than not having the best record, but it's also irrelevant. Just one of the six division leaders last June 1 actually won their division title (that was Detroit), although two others did win wild card berths. We're roughly a third of the way through the season already, so it's no longer early, but there's still a lot of baseball to be played.

Dick Bremer spent a good bit of time on recent broadcasts complaining of a lack of national attention paid to the Twins. The post-game stories after Sunday featured quotes from players about shutting the stat guys up. Both would do well to let it lie.

There's better reason to think the Twins record a fluke than to regard it as an accurate depiction of how good they are. The linked-to piece (by Dave Cameron on FanGraphs) is a sign that, no, the stat guys aren't shutting up. More important, the numbers underlying the Twins gaudy won-lost record aren't shutting up. The Twins are tied for fourth in the AL in runs scored, but they are 11th in on-base percentage and slugging percentage. These figures do not match.

But this is also a significantly different lineup now than it was in April -- no Kennys Vargas, no Oswaldo Arcia, Danny Santana going from getting the most at-bats in the lineup to the fewest -- and it's fairly easy to imagine further personnel changes before season's end.

The early wins are in the books. Now they can try to get the middle season wins.

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