The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports Columns

April 14, 2014

Thoma column: Twins are scoring lot of runs; can this continue?

The Minnesota Twins entered Sunday’s play with the American League’s second-highest number of runs scored.

And, they haven’t had the advantage of hitting off their own pitching staff.

OK, it’s dreadfully early in the season, far too early to draw conclusions off what we’ve seen so far. Still, it was amusing on Sunday morning to visit Baseball Reference.com and notice that of the 15 teams in the AL:

n Only five had scored more than the league average of 47 runs;

n Of the four non-Twins teams in that group, only the Angels hadn’t faced the Minnesota nine;

n Everybody who has played the Twins is ahead of league average in runs except Kansas City, which sits dead last.

All this shows, of course, is what we already knew: The Twins have scored a lot more runs than we could have expected off their 2013 performance, and the pitchers have, at least until this weekend, had difficulty getting anybody out.

What strikes me about the offensive improvement is how uneven it has been. Of the 11 hitters with at least 18 plate appearances through Saturday — a grouping that includes the injured Oswaldo Arcia at the low end of the playing time scale and excludes Eduardo Escobar — six were exceeding their career production rate, four were significantly lower and one (Aaron Hicks) was essentially even with what he’s done in the past.

But this is a dicey set of comparisons. Chris Colabello, for example, had after Saturday an OPS+ (On base Plus Slugging, adjusted for park effects and compared to league average) of 125, meaning he was 25 percent above league average. Last year, his rookie season, his OPS+ was 75, 25 percent below league average. There’s so little playing time involved for Colabello that he’s already pumped his career OPS+ to 85.

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