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Luck is part of baseball, even if it is hard to define. A player can smash a line drive that just hooks foul. Another player might get a pitch right down the middle and miss it. So, have the Twins been unlucky in 2021?

Pythagorean Winning Percentage

One aspect that shows how the Twins have been unlucky is their Pythagorean winning percentage. For those unfamiliar, Pythagorean winning percentage is an estimate of a team’s winning percentage given their runs scored and runs allowed. For example, the Twins scored 269 runs in 2020 and allowed 215 runs, which results in a Pythagorean W-L record of 36-24. That also turned out to be the club’s overall record for the year.

There are flaws with Pythagorean W-L record, especially if teams score a lot of runs in their wins and lose a lot of close games. Entering play on Monday, the Twins had scored 175 runs and allowed 195 runs. Based on those totals, their projected Pythagorean W-L record is 17-21 which is a four-win improvement compared to the team’s actual record. This points to the team being a little bit unlucky.

RISP

Minnesota’s struggles with runners in scoring position have been well documented this year, but how much of this can be tied to bad luck in clutch situations? Only one AL team, Tampa Bay (3.81 runners/game), has left more runners in scoring position per game than the Twins (3.76 runners/game). Obviously, some injuries have impacted the line-up (see below), but it’s hard for a team to recover if runs aren’t being scored because players are being left in scoring position.

What’s most disturbing is the drop Minnesota took from 2020 to 2021. Last year, the Twins ranked as the best in all of baseball by averaging 2.60 runners left on per game. The closest team to the Twins last season was Pittsburgh and they finished 20 points behind Minnesota by season’s end. There can be some expected regression, but this is a big drop for a team from one season to the next.

BABIP

BAbip is another statistic that can point to luck impacting batters and pitchers. For those unfamiliar, BAbip measures how frequently non-home run batted balls fall for hits. League average is around .300 in a typical year. So far in 2021, Twins hitters have posted a .287 BAbip, which ranks 16th in all of baseball. Only eight clubs have posted a BAbip above .300 for the year as offense has been down for most of the league.

On the pitching side, Minnesota’s hurlers have also posted a BAbip in the middle of the pack. For the year, the Twins rank 15th with a .286 BAbip. In all of baseball, seven teams have a BAbip total above .300. Two teams in the AL Central, Kansas City (2nd) and Detroit (11th), rank higher than the Twins in pitching BAbip. Sometimes bloop hits fall in, sometimes a dribbler gets by a fielder, and other times a fielder is positioned perfectly to make a catch on a hard hit ball. All those things can impact a team’s BAbip and a little luck ties into all of it.

Injuries

Injuries have been up across baseball and the Twins have seen some key players missing time. Byron Buxton was playing at an MVP level before his recent hip injury put him on the shelf. Alex Kirilloff was hitting the ball with authority to all parts of the field before suffering a wrist injury from sliding into second base. Both players were playing at a high level and taking them out of the middle of the line-up has certain had an effect.

Over the weekend, there was even more injury news. Max Kepler (hamstring), Kenta Maeda (groin), and Willians Astudillo (hand) all left Sunday’s game with different ailments. This is on top of Jake Cave already being on the IL and Kyle Garlick playing through a groin injury. The injuries continue to mount, and health looks like it might impact the team throughout the 2021 campaign. Having a little more luck on the team’s side might get those players back and preforming at their highest level.

Do you think the Twins have been unlucky this year? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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 Unlucky? Yes.  Playing extremely poorly? Yes. A ridiculous amount of injuries to key players? Yes. That's a bad combination.

Offense? Bad.  Pitching? Bad. Defense? Bad.  AND at the worst possible time....the last innings of close games. 

Aside from all that, I think the season has gone quite well. 

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4 hours ago, h2oface said:

Luck. You make your luck. The Twins just play horribly. 

Yeah I remember when I first heard those words from my varsity basketball coach.  At first I didn't think he was right but upon further reflection practicing, being prepared for pressure situations, staying calm and not making unforced errors these are things that help you get "lucky" against your opponents.

In Baseball you can hit a ball hard but right at someone for an out.  You can throw a good pitch and still have it end up in the seats, but that stuff usually evens out.  Not making errors, not swinging at bad pitches out of the zone, not giving up walks free passes to 1st these are things that can be controlled to some extent and give you chances to turn the game in your favor.

Sure sometimes the competition is just better and you get beat but often times it is the little things that add up to losing.  Make your own luck by being more prepared more skilled than your competition that is the only way to give yourself the best chance for success.

 

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Some interesting stats that I looked up on baseball-reference.com

- Twins starters have left 54 inherited runners for the bullpen. That is about league average.

- 69% of those runners have scored. That is the worst in baseball and it's not even close. The next closest is Philly at 49%.

There are lots of problems with this team, but if you had to pick a place to start it's gotta be the bullpen or the way they are using their pitching staff. Maybe they need to move to an opener strategy.

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Any talk about the Twins being unlucky this year is just a coping mechanism to help fans deal with reality. It's like telling kids that their 12 year-old cocker spaniel didn't come home from their last visit to the vet because she "went to live on a farm".

This is a bad ballclub that deserves to be ranked last in MLB. And that's right where they are. The sooner we all accept the likelyhood of a 107 loss season, the better we'll handle the rest of the season. I don't think kneeling and praying to the BABIP Gods is going to help anyone.

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I think the Twins have been somewhat lucky, actually.

Earlier in the season I recall the other team hitting several near home runs that went just foul. Don’t remember details unfortunately.

The Twins got plenty of luck in Sunday’s game, with replay calls and such, then they booted the game away anyway because Donaldson missed a catch playing out of position, probably related to shifting with runners on base and not communicating good fielding assignments to the players.

In the first game against the White Sox last week (Tuesday, May 11), Polanco hit an infield popup that wasn’t caught—again, some good luck. Instead of a two out, nobody on situation, it led to a three run inning and a three run lead. But the Twins lost that game, too, in big part because they seem to think they need to hold back Maeda’s innings for later in the season (I think he should have pitched another inning) and are not doing anything meaningful to address the bullpen.  

A win against the White Sox on May 11 would have cut the lead in the standings to 6.0 games, and maybe given them some momentum.

Are the Twins unlucky? No, not in my opinion!

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Luck! Schmuck! The Twins have magnified their bad luck with bad play. Some by Rookies and 2nd rank players but some by Donaldson and Simmons, who have previously been elite defenders. Yeah, yeah...I suppose that is bad luck too. but if the relievers would pitch faster and throw more strikes, we wouldn't be so unhappy.  :)

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I don't think they are unlucky at all. If you look at the 7 extra inning losses....they lost all those games on merit. They couldn't bring in a runner from second with no outs and the other guys, playing fundamental baseball, did.

they have failed to modify their approaches as the situation calls. They don't have a clue how to advance runners.

the pitching hasn't been unlucky...it has been terrible.

The only area that one might allow a bit of bad luck would be injuries. Every team has them, but the Twins have had more than their share, one could argue. Then there is Buxton. Possibly the most exciting player in the game....his body is not compatible with playing the game hard day after day. Don't know if that will ever change.

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Instead of using BABIP to determine luck, I was curious what looking at BA vs xBA would show. According to Baseball Savant the Twins have a BA of .245 and an xBA of .255, for a difference of negative 10 points.  So at first glance there appears to be a little bad luck, but not a ton. But I noticed it also says that for MLB as a whole BA is .236 and xBA is .243, for a difference of negative 7 points. So really the Twins have only been 3 points of BA more unlucky than MLB as a whole. So, that means we're only losing 3 hits per 1,000 at bats to bad luck, when compared to the rest of the league. Some rough mental math tells me that's about 1 hit every 9 or 10 games.  When put that way, that doesn't really seem like much to me. Not even close to being able to blame that for a 13-26 record.

Twins pitchers on the other hand have actually been getting a little bit lucky using this method. Twins pitchers are giving up a .256 BA vs a .270 xBA, for a difference of 14 points.  Again, MLB as a whole has 7 points difference, meaning Twins pitchers are actually giving up 7 fewer hits than expected per 1,000 at bats, relative to the rest of the league.

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Sure they have been unlucky.  Add poor luck to a bullpen that has been awful and you get a team that is on track to lose 100 games.  It is probably time to begin asking what assets the Twins have that could be traded for prospects and young players. 

Does someone want the services of Nelson Cruz for the rest of the season?  Anyone willing to take on the Miguel Sano reclamation project?  Maybe Taylor Rodgers can attract a potential suitor or two?  Are the Twins going to pay Buxton to keep him long term or is it time to get what we can for him before he hits the free agent market?  It might be time to start thinking about 2022 and beyond.

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A veteran team of Allstar to superstar players playing the game like they have this year tells me all I need to know about their management/coaching. These guys(players) don't take it seriously, and that starts from their manager telling them they don't have to. It not bad luck, its terrible leadership, from the staff and players alike.

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I have seen them play enough bad baseball this year to attribute very little if any of their futility to bad luck.   Losing has been a team effort - one part of the team will always fail at a key moment - if it is not the Starting Pitching, then the Bullpen blows a lead, if the bullpen pitches well, then the defense caves in, if not that then the offense stagnates.   Sometimes everything falters.   Also consistently not delivering with men in scoring position - the offense has been disjointed.  The team has been disjointed.   Almost wonder if the playoff futility has impacted them mentally.  Do they need a mental coach or better coaching?    What is up with the bullpen allowing inherited runners to score at a record pace - bad pitching or bad preparation.  I can't attribute that to bad luck at this point because the bullpen has been consistently awful.    Maybe bad luck that the every pitcher in the bullpen has collapsed at various points - there has not been a constant reliable arm to calm the storm.    Astudillo hits well except when it is a pressure situation - then we can count on a pop-up, double-play or one of his rare strikeouts.   Bad luck or can't rise up to the moment or just not good enough?      Honestly Refsnyder has come up and hit and  hit with men in scoring position - I know that won't last, but at least it is refreshing to see.   

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6 hours ago, LewFordLives said:

Some interesting stats that I looked up on baseball-reference.com

- Twins starters have left 54 inherited runners for the bullpen. That is about league average.

- 69% of those runners have scored. That is the worst in baseball and it's not even close. The next closest is Philly at 49%.

There are lots of problems with this team, but if you had to pick a place to start it's gotta be the bullpen or the way they are using their pitching staff. Maybe they need to move to an opener strategy.

Ouch

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I think the fans have been unlucky, forget the team.  We might not be happy with a .500 team but we'd ultimately be OK with it.  However, a .333 team is inexcusable, they are way below the threshold of luck.  They need an 8-10 game winning streak before we can start talking about luck.

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I don’t see bad luck as any part of this. Roy Smalley was asked for a win prediction pre-season. He said 90. He was asked, "Why so low?" His answer. The Twins have too many question marks all around the diamond. The FO foolishly gave away Rosario for Cave and failed to acquire players such as Michael Brantley, Springer, Maikel Franco (back up uncertainties at 3B and 1B and he would have played a lot so far!!!), Pillar. 

Another big mistake was letting so many bullpen arms escape and replacing them with bargain basement types. Previous to that, they could have been super aggressive on Bumgarner, Stroman, Darvish, Ryu and others of that ilk. If you lose these recruiting battles time after time after time, you will certainly lose to a team like the White Sox, who did what our front office could have.

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5 hours ago, Bomba2026 said:

It's the Curse of Eddie Rosario....The person in Mgmt that wanted him out better admit publically HE was wrong in that decision.  That should make things better.....

I agree with you 100% It was a very poor personnel decision. One of the player changes but only one, that’s resulted in a 101 win team gasping for air.

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22 minutes ago, se7799 said:

I have to ask...is RBI still a useless stat?  Sounds like we could use a few of those.

It’s a classic stat, one of the most important for 150+ years. Some hitters just perform better in the clutch. Rosario was one such player.

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2 hours ago, Greglw3 said:

The FO foolishly gave away Rosario for Cave

Kirilloff was the replacement for Rosario, not Cave. Rosario’s value wasn’t anywhere close to what he had to be paid ($10M) whereas Cave, whilst a lot worse, is only paid $0.6M which is pretty close to his value.

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Yes, I absolutely 100% feel the Twins have been a victim of bad luck. They have had a covid issue, they have had a number of injuries including multiple in the same game and I think you could even make an argument that 2 weeks of day games to begin the season took the team out of normal routines, especially when they started to slide and maybe could have used some infield or batting practice. They've also had a number of weird bounces and hops and lame duck bloop hits, and seeing eye grounders, etc, that have victimized them in crucial moments.

And these things absolutely could and probably did lead to some tough losses and might have lead to the cascade of losses that now make this season look like an apparent lost year.

BUT...not including vast injury issues...tough bounces, blind singles, bloop hits and weird bounces happen to every team and balance out overall.

What is NOT bad luck are fumbled grabs, poor throws, hanging pitches with 0-2 counts and ineptitude to put a ball in the OF with runners on 3rd and no or 1 out(s) or a failure to even advance a runner in crunch time. 

Weird things happen in baseball at times. What's truly weird to me is a sudden collapse of so many players and such bad performances all at once. You expect to see bad years, bad weeks, even bad months here and there. But a virtual collapse of performance in all areas for a talented team expected to contend like this is something I've seldom seen. Unfortunately, reminds me of the Twins in 2011, but maybe even worse.

I don't think Baldelli just became a poor manager or Johnson just suddenly became a poor pitching coach. I don't think the "talent" of the players just suddenly evaporated like vapor in the air. 

But a successful team is a result of many pieces of a puzzle put together. Once in a while, you build what appears to be a good team, but the pieces just don't fit right. You add some bad luck like injury situations and the such, suddenly you have the  2021 Twins.

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20 hours ago, Bomba2026 said:

It's the Curse of Eddie Rosario....The person in Mgmt that wanted him out better admit publically HE was wrong in that decision.  That should make things better.....

While I always liked Eddie, the front office 100% made the right decision. I think Kiriloff, in a sss, so far has backed that decision up and it will be exciting to see what he can do the rest of the season.

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18 hours ago, cHawk said:

Kirilloff was the replacement for Rosario, not Cave. Rosario’s value wasn’t anywhere close to what he had to be paid ($10M) whereas Cave, whilst a lot worse, is only paid $0.6M which is pretty close to his value.

But the practical result was exit Rosario and Cave taking over the playing time. Kirilloff may yet be the replacement for Rosario and then things will be better!

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