Jump to content
Twins Daily
  • Create Account

Article: Are The Twins Really One Of The Worst Teams Ever


With almost two full months of the season in the books, the number of Twins fans who believe there’s a playoff run in the cards has dwindled to almost nil. Those left clinging to hope are doing so against all visual and statistical evidence. Some fans are actively rooting for the team to break the Cleveland Spiders’ record for losses in a season (154) to make sure the Braves don’t nick the first overall pick in the 2017 draft, to maximize the probability of a front office overhaul, or because it’s simply more interesting to be a historically bad team than just a typically bad one. But are they just as delusional as those still holding out hope for a postseason run?

 

Long-time Twins fans should know what a bad team looks like. The Twins are headed for 90 or more losses for the sixth season out of the last seven, and from 1993-2000 (less the strike-shortened 1994 season) they averaged 91 losses. But as bad as those teams were -- and they were certainly bad -- they’re actually fairly pedestrian. No one talks about the 1997 or 2014 Twins with disgust, only sadness. However, just three years after they broke out of their nearly decade-long World Series hangover, however, the Twins got an up-close look at a truly horrible team.The 2003 Detroit Tigers are a very worthy successor to 1962 Mets’ crown as the worst team in recent memory, finishing the season 43-119. Nearly 40 years passed between these monuments to ineptitude, but it was worth the wait. They hit rock bottom some 80 games below .500 before a last-season flail netted them five wins in their last six games. At no point in the first half of the season did they break double digits in runs, and they were shut out a total of 17 times. As a team, the Tigers hit .240/.300/.375; their combined 83 OPS+ means they were 17 percent below league average offensively. Yet as bad as their offense was, their pitchers managed to be worse: a combined 5.30 ERA, a 1.51 WHIP, and staggeringly poor 4.8 K/9 all added up to an 81 ERA+. All in, the Tigers posted a team WAR of -1.2.

 

En route to a division title, the Twins beat the hapless Tigers 15 times out of 19 meetings (the second place White Sox went 11-8 against Detroit and lost the division by four games; needless to say, those games were a substantial missed opportunity). They lost close games when their bullpen failed, they lost blowouts when the hitters didn’t hit, they lost pretty much every way imaginable, which is what it takes to get all the way down to 119 losses.

 

The first six weeks of the Twins’ season felt a little bit the same way. They actually pitched moderately well during their losing streak to start the year, but either couldn’t hit or couldn’t preserve the leads they got. Over the first 16 games of the season, they scored 53 runs and allowed 67, making their 5-11 record somewhat puzzling, as the gap of less than a run per game should have -- in theory -- put them closer to .500. Their next 15 games (3-12) made them look like a team with a chance at truly historic ineptitude, as they scored 53 runs in one fewer game, but allowed 93 runs. So through 31 games, the team had been both unlucky and very bad, and the comparisons to the ‘62 Mets or ‘03 Tigers seemed apt.

 

Over the last 15 games, even if the record hasn’t been much better, the Twins are quietly becoming more of the team they looked like they’d be before the season started. They’ve scored 61 runs, just a touch over 4.0 per game or about half a run better than their full-season per-game average, but the pitching has given up 88 more runs and they’ve come in worryingly large bunches. Miguel Sano has five home runs in those games, Robbie Grossman has made a nice first impression, and while there’s still a substantial amount of scuffling in the rest of the offense, it’s getting easier to see how the lineup is supposed to function. Since warm air really does add extra distance to flyballs, and since the Twin Cities are in for a hotter-than-average summer, the Twins should see a few extra home runs now that spring has ended.

 

Yes, it is worrisome that Brian Dozier, Trevor Plouffe, Joe Mauer, Byung-Ho Park, and others look so bad, but it’s a presupposition that the team is bad right now. That they’re at least ahead of a historically bad pace with so much dead weight is a good sign for the future, provided you believe one or more of them will come around before Eduardo Nunez regresses.

 

Contrast this to the Tigers, who were little more than Dmitri Young and the Also-Rans. If he didn’t hit, they didn’t win; though, frequently, they didn’t win even if he did. So, yes, looking at the season to date, the Twins look only marginally better than the Tigers (about 3 percentage points according to both OPS+ and wRC+) but expecting the Twins to improve as the summer heats up isn’t irrational; in fact, it may already be happening.

 

If the Twins are going to avoid being historically bad, however, they’re going to need to start seeing that improvement in the offense soon, because seeing improvement from the rotation takes a good deal of squinting and maybe letting your eyes go out of focus like the old Magic Eye books. Kyle Gibson’s return may help -- it should help -- but it’s hard to guess how much like the old Gibson he’ll look. Jose Berrios will likely return to the majors at some point in the season’s second half, but he too offers an uncertain amount of improvement. Like the Twins’ hitters, their pitchers currently compare favorably to the Tigers’ staff, but the margin is razor thin. If the Twins do end up with the Tigers, Mets, and Spiders as one of the most beatable teams in history, the pitching is going to be a major reason for it.

 

Heading into the middle third of the season, the Twins are on an almost identical pace to the Tigers. If nothing changes, they’ll finish with either 119 or 120 losses, making them one of the all-time worst teams. Injuries could change their course for the worse, but barring a complete health crisis, they’re unlikely to lose more starters than they already have. If I were a betting man, I’d take the under on 120 losses, but until the offense strings together more than two weeks of 4+ runs per game, 100 losses feels very possible.

 

Whether that’s better or worse than being the worst team since those hapless Spiders is a matter of opinion, but if the last few weeks have been an aberration instead of a pattern, the Twins won’t be able to stop fans debating whether they’re one of the most hapless groups to ever take the field.

 

Click here to view the article

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Recommended Posts

Good article. I was waiting for someone to write it. It seemed like everyone was just ignoring the elephant in the room. They are on pace for 120 losses and no one wanted to talk about it.

 

I definitely want to avoid the fate of the 2003 Tigers, but looking back, I think it took hitting rock bottom for them to turn the franchise around. Look at their success since then.

 

I think the Twins and their fans have to embrace "total system failure" and sink to the bottom. The roster needs to be completely flipped over to the prospects sometime before the end of the season

 

To do so wouldn't be a one year overreaction. Last season was an aberration. 6 90-loss seasons out of the past 7 years is more indicative of a team stuck in the doldrums. The FO needs a big shake up and the team needs to finally bottom out and flip over!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not big on compare teams year to year and especially not to other teams.  What disappoints me the most is the change from what these players were doing in Spring Training and what there are doing now.  This from the Strib article on Brunansky:

 

"This is not the offense Brunansky expected to see coming out of spring training, and he is constantly searching for ways to reprogram hitters who have gotten away from what they do well."

 

This one tells it al for me:  "A whopping 33 of their 44 homers have been solo shots."

 

Blame Bruno all you want, but this is on the players.  Only I know right now it Brian Dozier it the appointed "clubhouse leader".  Yeah, he sure is leading........

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

To do so wouldn't be a one year overreaction. Last season was an aberration. 6 90-loss seasons out of the past 7 years is more indicative of a team stuck in the doldrums. The FO needs a big shake up and the team needs to finally bottom out and flip over!

Last year was the worst thing that could have happened to this team, IMO.  It led to complacency in the FO and overhype from the fan base.  I did provide some hope that things were turning around, but I think many fans worried that they caught lightning in a bottle and still needed to make some changes to actually improve the team.  Losing 90 games in 6 of 7 seasons would result in mass shakeups in every FO in any professional sports team anywhere else.  Will a 100+ loss season result in anything different?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, this really is one of the worst teams ever (as the team is constructed now)

Terrible rotation, terrible bullpen, terrible defense.

 

The offense is under-performing, but at this stage, other than Park and Sano, can we really feel confident that anyone else on the 25 man roster will even be able to be an "average" hitter moving forward? Dozier and Mauer could, but they haven't inspired much confidence as of late. I guess Nunez is playing well, but again, are we confident that this lasts?

 

However, there is hope.

If Berrios, Kepler, Buxton and a handful of bullpen youngsters can come up and play well, that could take them out of the "one of the worst teams ever" conversation hopefully, and keep them from losing 110+

 

How sad is it that we are now viewing the fact if they can lose less than 110 a somewhat of a success?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

...

How sad is it that we are now viewing the fact if they can lose less than 110 a somewhat of a success?

 

Having pocketed 34 losses in the first 46 games would not necessarily have fewer than 110 losses be a success. 

It would, however, be an improvement.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

Last year was the worst thing that could have happened to this team, IMO.  It led to complacency in the FO and overhype from the fan base. 

Plenty of fans (and apparently the owner and GM) bought into the notion that this team really was that good despite convincing evidence to the contrary.

Edited by jimmer
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 ​If we juxtapose Brunanski's comments, the pay structure that overweights HRs, and the actual team results I think we can draw some alarming conclusions. It appears that players are committed to hitting HRs rather than to the more traditional approach to focusing on OBP and sprinkling-in the occasional HR swing based on experience and intuition. The disparity between Bases-empty HRs and HR with a base-runner(s) is likely due to opponents pitchers being more focused when there is someone on base (cue Bert's comment about bases empty HRs). I think players just wish to maximize their value on the open market with the expectation (Hope?) to sign with a different team. It's as if the players view playing for Minnesota as just another rung on the ladder like the Rochester Red Wings until they can play for a "real major league" team. In short, they are playing for themselves and "nuts" to this team.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

Plenty of fans bought into the notion that this team really was that good despite convincing evidence to the contrary.

Agreed.  It was fun while it lasted, but expectations definitely needed to be tempered coming into this year.  I believe that I had them at around 75 wins but hoped that they'd hang around .500.  Even that seems to be overly optimistic.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nitpic: I believe it will be five out of six seasons with 90 losses (counting 2016), not six of seven.

 

And...so far at least, yes. You are what your record says you are. And to date, they're historically bad.

 

I don't think they maintain this pace, though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No, they are not one of the worst teams ever. They aren't even one of the worst Twins teams ever. But their records certainly points that way. There is some scattered talent on this team, so there's that. And a group of these guys are going to realize, if not already, that they are playing now for there ML lives. The pressure to win should be gone by now. Relax, play at-bat by at-bat and get yourself a chance to hook on with another team next year. we've had teams in the past where most of the players should be working in a factory somewhere.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, in my job at the missile silo, we all use "Twins2016" as our passwords because really, who would ever guess that??

 

Actually I'm pretty upbeat about the Twins. Now that any post-season chances are thoroughly blown, players and coaches can relax. It's a practice season, a four month scrimmage. You can start looking for sales on golf clubs early. 

 

For the guys with a future, this is a golden opportunity to get experience at the level you need. Buxton, Rosario, Kepler, all the guys in AAA now can work on their games, then come up when they look ripe. Twins management appears to understand this, which is why they've called up Rogers and Dean as starters/relievers. Both look mediocre, which on this team means OUTSTANDING! 

 

Juan Centeno has looked decent behind the plate, certainly better than Kurt Suzuki, whose professional career ended sometime last year. Sadly, the FO has yet to acknowledge his shift from professional player to enthusiastic amateur. Maybe that's because he still digs balls out of the dirt?

 

Both Phil Hughes and Ricky Nolasco have ceased to be top ro starters, now looking more like 4th and 5th guys, which is usually reserved for rising rookies or innings eaters, but they can't do that, either. Both actually would serve better in the bull pen, if the Twins had anybody better to start. At the moment they might actually do better with a rotation of Duffey, Dean, Rogers, Santana and May. With Hughes and Milone in the pen, that gives them a couple relievers that can go two or three innings, while the younger starters have the stamina to get through six or seven before pooping out. 

 

Meanwhile I've got my doubts about Dozier being a team leader. Seems more like a borderline head case with very little plate discipline. Around the All-Star break I'd trade him and Plouffe, stick Polanco at 2B, Sano back at 3rd, then see what we got in AAA for the outfield. The transition year will not be a winning year. Peace be with you. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Everyone seems to have convinced themselves that this is a talented team that is underachieving. By everyone, I mean the front office, the players, the media, and most fans.

 

This is really a really dangerous point of view, IMO, because it implies that it will turn at some point with the same personnel.

 

Frankly, this team isn't as talented as some like to think it is.

 

Ervin Santana and Tyler Duffey are the only pitchers with te big club that belong in an MLB rotation, and they're firmly mediocre. The rest are really bad pitchers. Gibson may return to form and be a solid #4-type. In short, this rotation isn't even close to good enough to compete.

 

Offensively, there isn't much hope to be found. Sano is a good player, with the potential to be a force. However, I'm beginning to think he's closer to the player we see this than what we saw last year. Park is basically the same type of player. The rest of the lineup is awful. Mauer is cooked. Dozier is done. Trevor Plouffe as a middle of the order bat is a joke. Arcia is a lost cause. There isn't another remotely competent offensive player on the major league roster. Again, as much as people like to think otherwise, this lineup is miles from being requisite of a playoff club.

 

Watch one half inning with the team in the field, and it doesn't take Billy Beane to figure out that this is one of the worst defensive clubs in the league. Especially with Buxton gone. The catchers are a trainwreck. The team doesn't have a shortstop. The outfield is a mess (moving Sano out there may have been the dumbest personnel decision in baseball history). The team basically has 5 DHs (who really aren't all that good defensively). Again.... it winning anything with this defensive make-up....ever.

 

The bullpen is self-evident at this point. Kevin Jepsen isn't a closer. Perkins career might be over. May is a total head case, who probably should have never been moved. Pressley has never been any good, not sure why that was expected to change. Again.....not even close to a competitive pen.

 

Couple the lack of talent with an incompetent coaching staff (apparently) and front office, and it's a perfect storm. This is most certainly one of the worst collections of baseball players, coaches, and administrators in the history of the Twins (which is an impressive feat considering some of the teams TR has been running out there since the mid-90s) maybe baseball as a whole.

 

This team isn't even close. Saying changes are necessary is an understatement. It's so bad they may even need to change the team name/mascot to change the level of toxicity ingrained in this franchise right now.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Everyone seems to have convinced themselves that this is a talented team that is underachieving. By everyone, I mean the front office, the players, the media, and most fans.

 

This is really a really dangerous point of view, IMO, because it implies that it will turn at some point with the same personnel.

 

Frankly, this team isn't as talented as some like to think it is.

 

Ervin Santana and Tyler Duffey are the only pitchers with te big club that belong in an MLB rotation, and they're firmly mediocre. The rest are really bad pitchers. Gibson may return to form and be a solid #4-type. In short, this rotation isn't even close to good enough to compete.

 

Offensively, there isn't much hope to be found. Sano is a good player, with the potential to be a force. However, I'm beginning to think he's closer to the player we see this than what we saw last year. Park is basically the same type of player. The rest of the lineup is awful. Mauer is cooked. Dozier is done. Trevor Plouffe as a middle of the order bat is a joke. Arcia is a lost cause. There isn't another remotely competent offensive player on the major league roster. Again, as much as people like to think otherwise, this lineup is miles from being requisite of a playoff club.

 

Watch one half inning with the team in the field, and it doesn't take Billy Beane to figure out that this is one of the worst defensive clubs in the league. Especially with Buxton gone. The catchers are a trainwreck. The team doesn't have a shortstop. The outfield is a mess (moving Sano out there may have been the dumbest personnel decision in baseball history). The team basically has 5 DHs (who really aren't all that good defensively). Again.... it winning anything with this defensive make-up....ever.

 

The bullpen is self-evident at this point. Kevin Jepsen isn't a closer. Perkins career might be over. May is a total head case, who probably should have never been moved. Pressley has never been any good, not sure why that was expected to change. Again.....not even close to a competitive pen.

 

Couple the lack of talent with an incompetent coaching staff (apparently) and front office, and it's a perfect storm. This is most certainly one of the worst collections of baseball players, coaches, and administrators in the history of the Twins (which is an impressive feat considering some of the teams TR has been running out there since the mid-90s) maybe baseball as a whole.

 

This team isn't even close. Saying changes are necessary is an understatement. It's so bad they may even need to change the team name/mascot to change the level of toxicity ingrained in this franchise right now.

I agree completely with this premise.

 

This is why I think that without a complete regime change, this team is still several years away from relevance.

I think this current regime honestly thinks this is a more talented group than it really is, and that they've just been unlucky.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

I agree completely with this premise.

This is why I think that without a complete regime change, this team is still several years away from relevance.
I think this current regime honestly thinks this is a more talented group than it really is, and that they've just been unlucky.

Well, Jim Pohlad said exactly that.  He said based on the record they had last year there was no reason to believe they wouldn't be even better this year.  Oh, and he still thinks that was a reasonable assumption. Sees no fault in that way of reasoning. There were plenty on this site who thought the same thing.

Edited by jimmer
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

Featured Video

×
×
  • Create New...