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Get Ready for a 60-Game Sprint, Twins Fans

mitch garver
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#1 Nick Nelson

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Posted 23 June 2020 - 05:21 PM

In 2006, after 60 games, the Minnesota Twins were 27-33. They were fourth in the division, and 10 1/2 games out of first place.

Under the parameters of the planned 2020 season, they'd have been dead in the water.Of course, as we now know, that '06 team ended up with 96 wins, the second-highest total (behind 2019) of any Twins team since the 1970s. Over the next 60 games, those pesky piranhas went 43-17, moving from seven games under .500 to 20 above.

Given our recency bias as fans, it can be easy to fall back on the image of this current Twins club as an impervious regular-season team that will weather any circumstance and emerge on top. It's a valid perception, really. The 2019 Twins were amazingly consistent and slump-proof. Their longest losing streaks of the season were four games (once) and three games (once).



It was the second winningest team in franchise history – a charmed season the likes of which we rarely see. Realistically, we can't expect things to go quite so smoothly again, even though the group is mostly intact (and even bolstered).

While the 2006 team is obviously an opposite extreme in terms of variance, it's a more conventional example. Ups and downs are inherent to this game. It is extremely common for teams to overperform or underperform in a two-month sample. In fact, it's more or less expected.

And 60 games is a helluva short season. In '06, Tony Batista was still the Twins third baseman after 60 games and Juan Castro was still their shortstop. Meanwhile, you can basically triangulate the turning point in Justin Morneau's MVP campaign to Minnesota's 60th game, against Baltimore, where he homered twice and drove in five. Before that day he'd hit .235/.295/.444; from then on he'd go .364/.414/.616.

For a variety of reasons, the 2020 Twins figure to be much less volatile than that scrappy bunch from 14 years ago, in part because they're much more soundly built, and not featuring the likes of Batista, Castro, and Rondell White as planned Opening Day starters. But there's no assurance that injuries or poor performance wouldn't have manifested in the early part of a full schedule, and now that reality looms extra large, should the season proceed as the league intends it to.

For a more pertinent example as it relates to this year's team, let's look at Mitch Garver in 2019. There was one 60-game stretch for the Twins (5/11-7/19) where he started only 23 times, and made 121 plate appearances, missing three weeks in the middle with an ankle sprain on top of the ample rest he saw as part of the team's strategy. Garver's production when on the field during this stretch (.250/.331/.528, 8 HR, 34-to-10 K/BB, 0.8 fWAR) was solid but certainly paled in comparison to his season in full.

This goes to illustrate how one single injury, and typical rest patterns, can significantly reduce the impact of key players over such a sample. But it also brings to mind an interesting question about how managerial philosophies might differ in this proposed 60-game mad dash.

Rocco Baldelli and the Twins were quite purposeful about how limiting Garver's work behind the plate in 2019, and they clearly expressed their intent to do the same in 2020. But with far fewer games (all heightened in importance), and reduced concern about preserving players like Garver late into a marathon season, will the Twins soften on this stance? The concentrated nature of the schedule will also need to be taken into account.

It's one of many subjects that will be interesting to ponder, as we now (finally) have the ability to discuss a defined plan and timeline for returning to play. There are plenty of other matters to work through before that can actually happen, but as things stand, Major League Baseball and its players appear united in their commitment to making this strange, shortened sprint of a season happen.

The Minnesota Twins, with their abundant depth, flexible talent, and cutting-edge management, are well poised to dominate such a format, with results that could harken back to that 2006 club upon hitting its stride.

Should it all come together as hoped, we can't wait to experience all the unprecedented twists and turns of this wild ride along with you.

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#2 ashbury

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Posted 23 June 2020 - 07:03 PM

I'm sympathetic to the concern about a short bad streak burying our team. OTOH every other good team in the majors faces this same risk.

 

And, if I'm hoping for a post-season juggernaut, I want my guys to be ones who answer the bell every time it rings - the playoffs are a string of short series each of which could bury our team. So in practicality, I'm putting this special 60-game risk out of my mind.

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#3 Otwins

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Posted 23 June 2020 - 07:03 PM

Avila is a powerful left handed bat.Garver will get plenty of rest. I would think something like 45 games for Garver- 15 Avila

 

So glad that the conversation can turn to actual baseball stuff. But for some reason I still feel like the season may not happen. 

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#4 Diesel

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Posted 23 June 2020 - 07:18 PM

Apparently its 10 games each against division foes, 4 games each against the NL Central. We won’t lose to the Yankees this year (in the regular season at least)!
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#5 Twodogs

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Posted 23 June 2020 - 07:22 PM

How many instances are there where the twins started hot and then faded down the stretch?

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#6 bighat

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Posted 23 June 2020 - 08:03 PM

 

How many instances are there where the twins started hot and then faded down the stretch?

It's never happened in the history of mankind.

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#7 Hosken Bombo Disco

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Posted 23 June 2020 - 08:56 PM

The Twins were smokin’ in the first half of 2001. That was coming off four 90-loss seasons and there was nothing flukey about it!

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#8 Hawkeye12

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Posted 23 June 2020 - 09:01 PM

 

How many instances are there where the twins started hot and then faded down the stretch?

 

2005 they started 36-24, but only won 83 games and the White Sox won the division and World Series.


#9 twinstalker

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Posted 24 June 2020 - 01:43 AM

1977, 1979, 1984 are candidates, too, though I'm too lazy to look it up.

Edit:

1977: 24-11, 42-31, 67-48 were local maxima before finishing 84-77 (35-25 after 60)

 

1979: 22-8, 53-42, finish 82-80 (32-28 after 60)

 

1984: 18-15, 54-49, 67-58, finish 81-81 (28-32 after 60)

 

1972: 23-12, finish 77-77 (33-27 after 60)

 

 

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#10 TL

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Posted 24 June 2020 - 04:49 AM

Great article and can’t wait for the season! But, “Garver's production when on the field during this stretch (.250/.331/.528, 8 HR, 34-to-10 K/BB, 0.8 fWAR) was solid...” .859 OPS from catcher = solid? Wow has he set the bar high.
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#11 HrbekRules

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Posted 24 June 2020 - 05:10 AM

This short season could really help Berios, we shouldn’t see his 2nd half fade with no second half.
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#12 dex8425

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Posted 24 June 2020 - 06:45 AM

 

This short season could really help Berios, we shouldn’t see his 2nd half fade with no second half.

If there was a Cy Young vote after 60 games last year Odo would've gotten some votes too. 

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#13 Nick Nelson

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Posted 24 June 2020 - 08:58 AM

 

If there was a Cy Young vote after 60 games last year Odo would've gotten some votes too. 

Dang this is a good point. Odorizzi after the team's first 60 games (12 starts): 8-2, 1.96 ERA, 0.96 WHIP. He probably woulda won the thing. 

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#14 Tibs

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Posted 24 June 2020 - 01:21 PM

Something to also ponder is Byron Buxton's defense. He's a game changer out there. In a 60 game season it creates an interesting dynamic. Every single game matters. Because of that, I don't want him playing cautiously out in center. On the other hand, every game matters so we can't afford to have him missing a few days here and there for minor injuries, or worse.

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#15 dex8425

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Posted 24 June 2020 - 01:21 PM

 

Dang this is a good point. Odorizzi after the team's first 60 games (12 starts): 8-2, 1.96 ERA, 0.96 WHIP. He probably woulda won the thing. 

Also, through 11 starts another Twins pitcher was 7-1 with a 2.95 ERA. His name is Martin Perez.

 

I guess that's exhibit A of what a small sample size 60 games is and how regression to the mean may not necessarily happen in 60 games. Hey, maybe Luis Arraez will hit .400 for the season. 

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#16 howeda7

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Posted 24 June 2020 - 04:53 PM

Having Rich Hill from day 1 helps. Berrios, Odo, Hill, Maeda and Bailly/Dobnak is a pretty good 5. Better once Pineda is added. That alone should prevent long slumps. And our line-up is loaded if the 1B isn't in legal trouble.

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#17 howeda7

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Posted 24 June 2020 - 04:54 PM

 

 

Something to also ponder is Byron Buxton's defense. He's a game changer out there. In a 60 game season it creates an interesting dynamic. Every single game matters. Because of that, I don't want him playing cautiously out in center. On the other hand, every game matters so we can't afford to have him missing a few days here and there for minor injuries, or worse.

I still want him being a little cautious. Having him play deep and come in on balls was the right idea, even though he still got hurt in Cleveland. Just stop fighting the walls.

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#18 DocBauer

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Posted 24 June 2020 - 05:57 PM

I don't want a 60 game season. I still want 82 games. But I will take what I can get, as will the rest of us. But barring big injuries, or covid outbreak, even with hit streaks and slumps, I do believe 60 games is enough for the cream to rise to the top.

The Twins were one of tbe best teams in all baseball last year despite the finish. They have done nothing but improve and deepen the roster since then. They have a powerful, dangerous and productive lineup. They have depth everywhere. It appears they have a strong pen and a solid, deep rotation. The one ongoing "complaint" is lack of a true ACE SP. But while I felt an adjusted routine, as well as experience/maturation would give Berrios his best season yet, a 60 game season should allow him to shine. And, as already pointed out, Oddo had a great season, really finding himself, and would have been a legitimate ACE and Cy Young candidate over half a season. Berrios would received votes as well I'm sure. Now we add Maeda and hopefully Hill for a half season along with depth, I think the rotation holds its own against most anyone.

My concern, strictly from wanting the Twins to do well and win it all, is the expanded playoffs, echoing Ash's concern. The Twins could legitimately go 40-20 or 45-15 But face a lesser team in a short series that they just don't match up well against and lose out. Unfortunately, it's not an uncommon phenomena for a great team having a great season but a lesser team, even having a losing season, just has a team's number at times.

I think we have a tremendous team with as good of a chance as anyone. I just really wish we had 82 games and a normal playoff for something close to a "normal" season.
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#19 Nine of twelve

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Posted 24 June 2020 - 06:11 PM

I've been trying figure out how to say what I want to say about all this. This might not quite be it but here goes anyway.

First, a 60-game season with only some of the top-line players is a farce. To attempt to give even a hint of legitimacy to this is totally disingenuous, to put it nicely.

Second, the health of the players, of thousands upon thousands of support personnel, and of their families is being placed at risk. And for what? To enable a farce.

Third, the political/social situation in our country weighs much more heavily on me right now than the lack of baseball.

I frankly don't give two ****s whether baseball resumes or not and this is from someone who has been a true Twins fan through thick and thin for 58 years. I wish the season had been canceled two months ago.

That said, I can't wait until real baseball is back. I ardently hope that can happen beginning on opening day in March, 2021.

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#20 Nick Nelson

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Posted 24 June 2020 - 07:02 PM

 

My concern, strictly from wanting the Twins to do well and win it all, is the expanded playoffs, echoing Ash's concern. The Twins could legitimately go 40-20 or 45-15 But face a lesser team in a short series that they just don't match up well against and lose out. Unfortunately, it's not an uncommon phenomena for a great team having a great season but a lesser team, even having a losing season, just has a team's number at times.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but expanded playoffs are not in the plans right now, yea? That was part of a proposed deal that players and owners couldn't reach agreement on. Which is not to say they couldn't still agree to implement it between now and the season, but right now I think we're looking at the standard 10-team format.

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