Entering Saturday's games, no team in the American League had a lower ERA than the Minnesota Twins.
Then Ervin Santana threw a one-hitter.
That lowered the team ERA to 2.44. To be sure, 11 games is a small share of the 162-game season, but you could double that and still be considerably better than the 2016 Twins' 5.08 ERA.
To borrow a rhetorical device from last week, what in the name of Johan Santana is going on here?
There are certainly multiple factors involved, from the White Sox-heavy schedule to the early season weather to just plain good fortune. But the biggest factor appears to be that the fielders are doing a better job.
For example: Santana's stellar performance Saturday included one walk and eight strikeouts, improving the staff's K/BB to 2.43 strikeouts to each walk on the season. That's actually slightly worse than last year's team ratio (2.49), and slightly below the major league average.
But the Twins, through Saturday, had turned 78.6 percent of the balls in play into outs. That's 84 percentage points above the major league average in "defensive efficiency." Last year the Twins were next to last in that metric in the majors, and by far the worst in the American League.
Where to put the credit? Well, the "Rainmen" outfield of Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton and Max Kepler (motto: "Nothing falls but raindrops") deserves much of it. They were expected to be stellar defensively — a trio with center field speed and right field arms — and they have been every bit of that.
But a secret weapon has been shortstop Jorge Polanco. Polanco is nobody's idea of a Gold Glover at the position, but he's made the routine plays routinely, and that's more than he did last season when he was handled the job for the last two months.
The Twins have, after Santana's gem, allowed fewer baserunners than any team in baseball — and turned an above-average number of double plays. That's not an easy combination to achieve, and it requires competence from the middle infielders.
This caveat cannot be over-emphasized: It's early. Polanco and third baseman Miguel Sano could regress to last year's bumbling play on the left side. Buxton's offensive struggles might result in less playing time. Injuries, disabling or merely nagging, might erode the quality of play.
But so far, Twins fans have got to love the gloves.