Wednesday, June 1, 2011

One-run games

Part of losing one-run games: This throw on a bunt
in the eighth inning resulted in no outs on the play
The Twins, as you probably know, lost Tuesday night and fell to 17-36 on the season. This is the worst record in baseball.

They are (having lost 8-7 on Tuesday) 10-15 in one-run games, which means they're 7-21 in games decided by more than one run. Convenient in-your-head math: .400 ball in one-run games, .250 ball in the rest. They're doing better in the close games, which is actually common for bad teams. Good teams turn more games into blowouts and are better at avoiding getting blown out. Bad teams turn games they could win easily into tight games.

There's an old saying that good teams win the close games, but that's been soundly discredited. Good teams win the blowouts. Win easy, lose tight -- that's the mark of a pennant winner.

Twenty-five one-run games out of 53 is ... well, it leads the American League, but I don't know how out of the ordinary it is. The Twins lead the AL in one-run losses, and they're fourth in one-run wins.

It suggests that they're not that far away. If the middle infield would stop giving away outs, if the middle of the lineup gets healthy and productive, if the bullpen can be straightened out ... But those are a lot of flaws to attack on the fly. Bill James' Pythagorean theorem says the Twins have about the record they ought to have.


  1. Does Tim McCarver still worship at the good-teams-find-a-way-to-win-one-run-games altar? One of the myriad of benefits of living in Japan is that I never hear his drivel anymore. Ed, let's play G.M. for a week. What are three of the first moves you'd make?

  2. Chris, I was going to reply here to your question. Then I thought I'd make it a post. Now it's likely to be the Monday print column.

    For now, let me just say that I wouldn't make major moves hastily. 2011 is already a lost cause for the Twins.