The Final Fifteen; What to Watch For
It's been a long season for the Twins and their fans. Many years at this time, I would say, "Boy, April doesn't seem like that long ago!" This year, it has been a very, very long season and April does seem like forever ago. However, starting tonight, the Twins will have just 15 more games to play this season, and although it's been a frustrating season, again, there are still plenty of reasons for fans to "play out the string." The best reason is "Because it's Baseball." Here are some more:
[PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]Just Be Better Than Last Year
The Twins enter this series with a record of 60-87. Maybe they can reel off a 15-game winning streak and end up 75-87. A nice goal might be to go 8-7 in the last 15 games and finish 68-94. To avoid losing 99 games again, the Twins need to win four more games. With the hitters healthy, that seems to be a fair goal.
There may not be any huge milestone career numbers that Twins players are chasing, but the M&M Boys can continue their rise up the Twins leader boards.
- Joe Mauer needs 1 RBI to tie Michael Cuddyer for 10th on the Twins all-time list with 580. Justin Morneau needs 12 RBI to catch up to Bob Allison for 5th on the Twins RBI list with 796.
- Justin Morneau needs 2 doubles to tie Torii Hunter for 6th on the Twins career list with 259. If Joe Mauer can notch 6 more doubles, he would tie Gary Gaetti at 252 for 8th all-time.
- Six more walks and Joe Mauer would tie Roy Smalley with 549 walks. Smalley is currently sixth on the all-time Twins list.
- With one more sacrifice fly, Justin Morneau ties Kirby Puckett for 4th place with 58. If he hits two sacrifice flies, he ties Gary Gaetti for 3rd place with 59.
Can Mauer Lead the League?
Are we talking about Batting Average? If so, here are the current leaders:
Miguel Cabrera .330
Mike Trout .329
Derek Jeter .323
Joe Mauer .321
Let's say that it will take a .330 batting average for Mauer to win the batting title. Let's also say that over the final 15 Twins games, Mauer will get 51 at bats to bring his season total to 540. He would need to go 21-51 (.412) to hit .330. Of course, any of those above him are capable of a similar run and are capable of hitting over .330. At any rate, Mauer still could win an unprecedented fourth batting title, but it will take some serious work!
If we are talking about On-Base Percentage, which in most ways is more important than Batting Average, then Mauer is certainly the favorite. Here is how the OBP leader board looks heading into Tuesday:
Joe Mauer .415
Prince Fielder .404
Mike Trout .396
Miguel Cabrera .395
David Murphy .391
No matter how you look at it, Joe Mauer returned to form in 2012.
Three More Opportunities
With fifteen games left, my Minnesota Math tells me that the current five in the Twins starting rotation will each get three more starts. That is, they will each get three more opportunities to show the Twins manager, pitching coach, GM, other teams, and fans what they are capable of.
Scott Diamond seems all but guaranteed a rotation spot in 2013, but I'm sure he'd like to finish strong. He is currently sitting at 188.1 combined innings on the season (153.2 with the Twins, 34.2 with Rochester). Samuel Deduno seemed to have nearly locked in a 2013 starting gig with the Twins until he struggled with his control again in his most recent start. PJ Walters needs to try to show that his first three Twins starts were the real him and the terrible starting since then is the anomaly. Esmerling Vasquez needs to let the brass know if he can throw enough strikes to be a starter or a reliever. Liam Hendriks needs to relax and pitch like we all know that he can. Three starts is obviously a small sample size no matter how you look at it, but coupled with what they've done to this point, it's the beginning of their case.
As you all know, I love seeing players come up through the minor league ranks and succeed. Chris Herrmann got a late call up here in September. He made his big league debut on Sunday when he grounded out to second base in a pinch hitting effort. I'm sure he'll make a couple of starts, and it will be great to see him get his first major league hit.
However, if there is one thing that I want to see more than anything in these final 15 games, it is a Liam Hendriks win. It would be great for him to get Number One out of the way before the offseason so that he doesn't have to carry that with him.
Yes, it has been a very long, very frustrating season in many ways, but hey, it's still baseball. It's still the best game that there is.
Last night, the Twins didn't play. I decided to watch the first episode of NBC's Revolution. That's an hour of my life that I can't get back, and if that's what we have to look forward to watching on TV until the Twins come back next spring, it is going to be a very, very long winter!! So, enjoy the final couple of weeks for what they are.