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Article: MIN 12, DET 1: Once Again, The Twins Bounce Back

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 05:44 AM
That’s more like it! After a demoralizing sweep, the Twins opened up a stretch in which they’ll face the Tigers in seven of their final 1...
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Should the Twins offer Mauer a Koivu-like extension?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 05:26 AM
Wild GM made a shrewd move I thought giving Koivu an extension at an affordable price in a cap-driven world.   No cap in baseball. N...
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Article: Game Thread: Twins @ Tigers, 9/21@6:10pm CT

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 05:44 AM
New York was absolutely no fun at all, but it’s ok… we got time to have some fun yet. We have a 4-game series in Detroit that begins toni...
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Twins fire Dougie Baseball

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 05:26 AM
http://m.startribune...?section=sports   Bummer. He sounds pretty pissed about it. Best of luck to him in the future.
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Getting To 85

The baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint. Except for now. Now it is a SPRINT. RUN Forrest, RUN!

The Twins entered last night with 19 games left in the season. In 19 games, anything can happen. In 19 games, the best team in baseball can go 3-16. That’s not hyperbole; it is currently happening this very minute and thank you Los Angeles Dodgers for proving the point. Nineteen games is a small sample size and nothing needs to make sense anymore. So let’s try to make some sense of it.
(All records below are before yesterday's games. I need to get some sleep.)

In the five years in which there has been a second Wild Card, that second team in the AL has won between 86 games (2015) and 93 games (2012). This year may set a new low, with 85 wins looking like a very real possibility. By taking a look at the schedules of the AL Wild Card’s top four contenders, one can get a little perspective on the path each team must travel to advance to the postseason.

The Los Angeles Angels (73-70) have a very tough 19-game schedule ahead of them with only four games versus also-rans and NINE versus the best teams in the AL. The easiest path to 85 wins includes:
  • taking five of the nine games versus the division leaders Houston and Cleveland,
  • winning four of six in their two series against Seattle and Texas and
  • taking three of four games versus the White Sox.
Summary: It can be done, but there can be no stumbles, not even against great teams.

The Texas Rangers (72-71) have a little easier 19-game finishing leg, with seven games against non-contender Oakland. But they need 13 wins, which looks like:
  • Taking two of three in their showdown at home versus Houston
  • Winning six of nine games they have versus other AL Wild Card teams
  • Capturing five of those seven games they have versus Oakland.
Summary: Again, that’s not impossible, but that’s a lot of consistent baseball for a .500 baseball team.

The Kansas City Royals (71-72) have the easiest 19-game stretch left, but also the fewest wins of the four, so they need to find 14 wins in their last 19 games to get to 85. Let’s see if we can get them there:
  • Take two of four versus the Indians this weekend.
  • Win eight of 11 games they have versus the White Sox, Detroit and Toronto.
  • Beat the Yankees in their makeup game on the 25th.
  • Take two of three against the Diamondbacks in the last series of the year.
Summary: That still only gets them to 84 wins. So they either need to sweep the Diamondbacks, take the series from a red-hot Cleveland team, or win nine of eleven versus the also-rans. Yikes.

The Rest – The Orioles, Mariners and Rays all entered last night’s games with as many wins as the Royals, but with fewer games to play. To get to 85 wins, the Orioles and Seattle would need to finish 14-4, and the Rays would need to finish 14-3.

Summary: The baseball gods humble those that dismiss the absurd, but that’s a tall order for teams that haven’t played .500 ball through 140+ games.

Finally we get to the Minnesota Twins, who have 74 wins and perhaps the easiest schedule. Of their remaining 19 games, 13 are against second-division teams. To go 11-8 down the stretch, this seems reasonable:
  • Win four of six this week versus the Padres and Blue Jays
  • Win five of 10 on their upcoming road trip to Cleveland (one of three?), Detroit (three of four?), and Yankees Stadium (one of three?).
  • Take two of three versus Detroit in the final home series of the year.
If you’re wondering why the Twins always seem to be favored in whichever playoff odds probability report you check every day, that’s why: the Twins road to 85 offers the least resistance and makes the most sense.

But with 19 games left, baseball doesn’t need to make sense. To steal a quote from our boy Forrest, "Baseball is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get."

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76 Comments

I submit if the Twins are going to be anything more than one and done in the playoffs, they will need to be that team that gets 'hot' at the end of the season. Perhaps fueled by a resurgent Miguel Sano.

 

No reason why they couldn't do so, but you never know. Otherwise I think we get nine extra innings, and then wait for Spring.

    • USAFChief, birdwatcher and PseudoSABR like this

 

(knocking on wood furiously)

 

The remaining schedules suggest that isn't so crazy. A lot of those scenarios look pretty challenging for the teams other than the Twins. But I also wonder if one of them won't get "hot" and suddenly reel off four wins in row, even versus a few good teams. 

 

The other thing I wonder about a little is the games in the last week of the season. For instance, the Twins play the Indians in the second to last series of the season. By then the Indians will have clinched. Might that work in the Twins favor? (And similarly for the Royals versus the Diamondbacks in the last series of the year.)

I don't care to do the math but since there are a fair amount of games left with wild card hopefuls playing wild card hopefuls what would be the fewest wins possible for a team to make the WC.  Now statistically all of the teams are pretty close to .500 after 144 games or so and would be projected to go 50/50 from this point so the Twins could go 8-10 from this point, win 83 games and edge out the Angels or go 7-11 from this point with a play in to WC game.   

Of course looking at it statistically reminds me when three statisticians went out hunting, and came across a large deer. The first statistician fired, but missed, by a meter to the left. The second statistician fired, but also missed, by a meter to the right. The third statistician didn't fire, but shouted in triumph, "On the average we got it

    • Circus Boy and Hosken Bombo Disco like this

I don't care to do the math but since there are a fair amount of games left with wild card hopefuls playing wild card hopefuls what would be the fewest wins possible for a team to make the WC. Now statistically all of the teams are pretty close to .500 after 144 games or so and would be projected to go 50/50 from this point so the Twins could go 8-10 from this point, win 83 games and edge out the Angels or go 7-11 from this point with a play in to WC game.
Of course looking at it statistically reminds me when three statisticians went out hunting, and came across a large deer. The first statistician fired, but missed, by a meter to the left. The second statistician fired, but also missed, by a meter to the right. The third statistician didn't fire, but shouted in triumph, "On the average we got it

if a statistician sees you with one foot in boiling water and one foot in a frozen bucket of water, he'll assume you're pretty comfortable.
    • Dantes929, Oldgoat_MN, Circus Boy and 1 other like this

Based on the teams left and the records needed to get to 85 wins, I don't think it's crazy to think that the 2nd Wild Card team might get in with 84 or even 83 wins. 

 

All of the contenders currently have records ranging from 75-69 to 72-74 (as of 9/13).

 

 The Twins winning pct is .521 at the top of the heap now and lowest realistic 2nd wild card contender .493.

 

If the Twins go 9-9 they get to 84 wins which would be slightly under their current winning percentage but attainable.

 

The Angels at .507 today, would need to go 11-8 to get to 84, a .610 winning percentage against some very good teams.

 

The rest of the teams would need to play anywhere from 12-4 to 12-6 to get to 84 wins. So teams currently at or below .500 would need to play somewhere between .750 and .667 ball over the next 2.5 weeks.  Again, possible but not likely.  So the fact the Twins are the only team that can play under their current winning percentage and get in is probably a good thing.  But anything can happen.

 

Here's hoping they don't mess around and just keep winning.

 

 

    • wagwan, Dantes929 and Oldgoat_MN like this

Is there a tie breaker if teams tie for 2nd Wild Card?  Or is it a coin flip?

 

Is there a tie breaker if teams tie for 2nd Wild Card?  Or is it a coin flip?

I believe they play a game 163.  Didn't that happen just a few years ago?

    • Oldgoat_MN and PseudoSABR like this

 

I think the playoff projections pretty much have it right, the Twins' WC odds are 55% or so . . . at this point they just have to play the games. One thing though - I'd think some of the theoretically 'hard' games for various teams could be misleading, to the extent that Cleveland, Houston, etc. might be setting up for the playoffs at the end of the regular season. 

This is an excellent point.Fortunately, there's a good chance they'll be battling for home field advantage when they play other WC contenders.

 

And, if the final series matters for the Twins, they may be playing the Mud Hens rather than the Tigers.

 

Is there a tie breaker if teams tie for 2nd Wild Card?  Or is it a coin flip?

 

I believe they have rules for a 4 way tie, but if it goes to five teams, they have no rules.....

 

I believe they have rules for a 4 way tie, but if it goes to five teams, they have no rules.....

4 teams would be kind of cool. I don't want the Twins to just win the WS. I want them to also set a record for most postseason wins in one year.

    • Mike Sixel likes this
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yarnivek1972
Sep 13 2017 03:37 PM

I'd agree with all of that, except for one nitpick: (whispers) I don't think the Yankees are even a half step better than the rest of the Wild Card teams. Maybe a quarter step. Bring 'em on.


Yeah, even the Twins beat them 2 of 3. For this franchise, that's like climbing Everest.
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VirginSturgeon
Sep 13 2017 04:05 PM

I just have a hard time seeing a scenario that our beloved Twins don't make the playoffs.  For as resilient as they have been throughout the year, I see no reason not to be confident going into these last 3 weeks.  This team is playoff bound and I think we still can overtake the Yankees for the top spot.  I am a betting man and I am going to be playing the ML on the Twins the rest of the season. $$$

    • wagwan and Oldgoat_MN like this

Baseball voodoo being what it is, expect a loss today. What is baseball voodoo, you ask? Its the unwritten tendencies, like striking out after hitting a foul ball out of the park, like a runner getting to third base with no outs should score, and like losing after a big win (16-0 qualifies).

... And where are all the guys that were calling for Molly to be fired? I'll tell you where: on the bandwagon.


Eddie Rosario stuck a pretty big pin in that voodoo doll!

I think we're resigned to the fact that he's not getting fired, but we still wish he wouldn't bunt so much.
    • Oldgoat_MN likes this

I just have a hard time seeing a scenario that our beloved Twins don't make the playoffs.


I've been a Vikings fan since 1970, so I can.

I also saw the 1987 Twins go on a run in October despite having pitching staff that was almost as bad as this one, so I can see scenarios going the other way, too.
    • gunnarthor likes this

 

Much like the 87 and 91 squads.

Much like them offensively. Not so much on the mound.

    • Oldgoat_MN likes this
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diehardtwinsfan
Sep 14 2017 08:34 AM

yeah, the 91 squad was a very solid team.87 not so much.

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Brock Beauchamp
Sep 14 2017 08:56 AM

 

Much like them offensively. Not so much on the mound.

Not really. The 1987 team's pitching staff was pedestrian (99 ERA+) and not terribly different than this season (96 ERA+).

 

Whereas this year's offense (103 OPS+) is actually slightly better than the 1987 squad (97 OPS+).

 

The 1987 squad simply wasn't very good. They got lucky and hot at the right time in an era when eight wins nets you a championship.

    • Mike Sixel, gil4, Oldgoat_MN and 2 others like this

 

Not really. The 1987 team's pitching staff was pedestrian (99 ERA+) and not terribly different than this season (96 ERA+).

 

Whereas this year's offense (103 OPS+) is actually slightly better than the 1987 squad (97 OPS+).

 

The 1987 squad simply wasn't very good. They got lucky and hot at the right time in an era when eight wins nets you a championship.

True, but Viola (8 WAR) and Blyleven (4.5 WAR) were legit good and they had three position players - Puck, Hrbek and Gagne - around 4 WAR as well. They were 45-28 when those two pitched so the team was kind of made for short series when they could stack up the pitching.  

 

Santana and Berrios aren't there yet.

    • gil4, Oldgoat_MN, Hosken Bombo Disco and 4 others like this

 

True, but Viola (8 WAR) and Blyleven (4.5 WAR) were legit good and they had three position players - Puck, Hrbek and Gagne - around 4 WAR as well. They were 45-28 when those two pitched so the team was kind of made for short series when they could stack up the pitching.  

 

Santana and Berrios aren't there yet.

 

right, that team was built for a playoff push, not a 162 game push.

 

I still think there should be two champions in MLB, regular season and short season, and everyone should play in the short season....

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Brock Beauchamp
Sep 14 2017 09:45 AM

 

True, but Viola (8 WAR) and Blyleven (4.5 WAR) were legit good and they had three position players - Puck, Hrbek and Gagne - around 4 WAR as well. They were 45-28 when those two pitched so the team was kind of made for short series when they could stack up the pitching.  

 

Santana and Berrios aren't there yet.

True, the front of the rotation was better in 1987 but the entire pitching staff was bleh in the ALCS. The Twins won through a bit of dumb luck and some really mediocre pitching. They hit their way to the WS (where the pitching staff improved a bit).

 

And that's my point, really. Both the 1987 and the 2017 teams match up pretty closely. A strong offense and meh pitching.

 

But the road to a World Series championship is a lot harder in 2017. The Twins need 12 wins to get there versus just eight in 1987.

    • gil4 and spinowner like this

The 87 Twins were good.  They had power and enough pitching to win in the playoffs.

 

I have to say, which will be unpopular, that it's impossible to watch the 87 world series today and think they weren't juicing. They were giants compared to the Cardinals.

 

Anyway, Bill James was particularly interested in the 87 Twins, and he found that the Twins pitching was relatively normal for a world series winning team.  The 87 Twins lacked a #3 pitcher, but the #1, #2, #4, #5 pitchers were all in line with regular season stats for other championship teams.

 

Jeff Reardon clearly learned how to do Blyleven's nasty curve near the end of the season and opposing teams really could not figure him out again until 1989.

    • Mike Sixel likes this

To address the OP, the Twins can make it to 84 wins if they keep doing what they are doing. This will probably be enough to make the playoffs this year. With a bit of luck or a hot streak, they can make 85 or more.

 

Detroit and NY will play the Twins hard.  Cleveland might too. Even still, the Twins should be able to play ~.500 against these teams, I don't see a collapse coming.

 

I'm not worried at all about the teams behind the Twins. The AL is not going to produce many +.500 teams this year. The two-win cushion they have now should hold.

 

Baseball voodoo being what it is, expect a loss today. What is baseball voodoo, you ask? Its the unwritten tendencies, like striking out after hitting a foul ball out of the park, like a runner getting to third base with no outs should score, and like losing after a big win (16-0 qualifies).

Having said that, I hope that last night's surge brings a dose of confidence to the guys and they all get hot together, like in August. If that happens, and they score 6 runs a game, they could make a run in the post season. I for one like the idea of having so many kids on the roster that are not intimidated. And where are all the guys that were calling for Molly to be fired? I'll tell you where: on the bandwagon.

Yeee hawww, this year's pennant race is fun.

Glad to see Eddie overcome the baseball voodoo. 

    • Mike Sixel and Don Walcott like this
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Ex-Iowegian
Sep 14 2017 11:55 AM

85 or 83. Decent team, good team or not...

The debate was an over/under around 75 at the start of the season.

No matter what the final outcome, this 'ride' is one hell of a lot better than what we have been watching for the past 6 years (not counting '15).

It's great entertainment. 

Okay... It's .500 baseball, but it's great entertainment.

    • gil4, Oldgoat_MN and Sconnie like this

True, but Viola (8 WAR) and Blyleven (4.5 WAR) were legit good and they had three position players - Puck, Hrbek and Gagne - around 4 WAR as well. They were 45-28 when those two pitched so the team was kind of made for short series when they could stack up the pitching.  
 
Santana and Berrios aren't there yet.


I didn't realize Viola and Blyleven were that good. My memories of that season are still in old-school stats (top of my head - 17-10/3.20, 15-11/3.70; 4 guys w/30+ HR - I'll check how I did in a minute). I haven't gone back and looked at how good they were according to the modern stats.
    • Hosken Bombo Disco likes this

I didn't realize Viola and Blyleven were that good. My memories of that season are still in old-school stats (top of my head - 17-10/3.20, 15-11/3.70; 4 guys w/30+ HR - I'll check how I did in a minute)


Not too far off - 17-10/2.90 and 15-12/4.01. And almost 4 w/30 HR. I couldn't remember if they just made it or just missed it, but Kirby had 28.