A few times each year, I present a team summary for the Tigers showing where they rank in lots of different statistical categories. This generally gives us a fairly clear picture of team weaknesses and strengths. It works for most teams in most seasons. So let's take a look at the Twins. First their offense (among American League teams):
7th in on base base percentage
8th in slugging
8th in OPS
13th in homers
8th in stolen bases
13th in Stolen base percentage
11th in walks
So they don't get on base that much or hit for much power and they don't steal a lot of bases. But they are third in runs scored! That's because they are batting an incredible .311 with runners in scoring position (the league average is .268).
What about their pitching? The Twins always have a good bullpen. Right? Here are the numbers (among American League teams):
10th in Starting pitchers ERA
8th in bullpen ERA.
So, they aren't doing it with pitching. The Twins are not stealing bases but they are a fast team and they always stress defense so they must be doing well there. Here are the ranks (among Major League teams):
26th in Revised Zone Rating
24th on the +/- stat
Thus, they aren't fielding well either. The numbers say they have no team strengths. They are average to below average in offense, pitching and defense. But they are fifth in the league in the stat that counts: 52 wins. They are pretty good at winning close games (27-21) but not extraordinarily so. The big reason for their success seems to be their high batting average with runners in scoring position. This is something that is very difficult to maintain over a full season even for a strong offensive team. It doesn't add up. You keep thinking it can't last.
It looked like they might be finally running out of gas when they got swept by the Red Sox this week. They then went on the the road to face the Tigers, a team on a three game win streak and coming off a dramatic come back win over the Indians. But so far the magic or witchcraft continues for the long time Tigers nemesis.
The Twins came from four runs down to beat the Tigers 7-6 in 11 innings yesterday afternoon. Tonight, they edged the Tigers 3-2. They haven't even even had such great situational hitting in the series - leaving 11 on base with 6 in scoring position on Thursday and 12 on base with 6 in scoring position tonight. They just keep winning though. In a series the Tigers really needed to win, they now need to win the last two games just to split.