Taylor's Twins Talk

Focusing on the Twins, with a few ramblings on other things that catch my attention

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Halfway Home

The Twins played their 81st game of the season tonight, and so are now halfway through the regular season. I thought it made sense to post a few ramblings regarding this magical halfway point, and provide some projections.

First, the Twins record of 46-35 would yield a 92-70 record if they had a symetrical second-half. But we as Twins fans don't want a symetrical second-half, of course. Instead, we want the June Twins, the team which turned things around dramatically, to keep on playing. Of course, the Twins aren't going to win 19 out of every 20 ballgames, as they have over the last 20 game stretch. Such things just don't happen in Major League Baseball, and there will undoubtedly be a point at which the Twins start playing at a more human level.

Nevertheless, there is no reason to expect that the Twins will play any worse than they did in the first half, and every reason to believe that the way the Twins played in April and early May was a fluke. As a result, it would not at all surprise me for the Twins to reach 100 wins this season. To do this, the Twins would have to go 54-27 over the last half of the season. That's a .667 winning percentage. Difficult? Absolutely. But the Tigers bettered that percentage in the first half, and the White Sox are close. In other words, it's not impossible, and I believe the Twins have the ability to do it. If the Twins win 100 games, they will make the playoffs. There is no way three AL teams will reach that threshold, so the Twins would either win the division or the Wild Card. Either way they'd get in. Something to shoot for, I guess.

Player Projections
It's always fun to extrapolate how everybody would do if they had a symetrical second-half. For your edification, here are some numbers:

SP - Johan Santana (18-8 / 2.48 ERA / 260-42 K-BB)
SP - Brad Radke (14-14 / 5.11 ERA / 106-50 K-BB)
SP - Francisco Liriano (18-2 / 1.99 ERA / 188-40 K-BB)

Liriano obviously hasn't even been in the rotation for the entire season. He was instered in the rotation on May 19th, and today is July 4th. In other words, it's been almost exactly a month and a half. The MLB season is 6 months long, and that means he's been in the rotation for about 1/4 of the season. With 2/4 of the season left, is it fair to say that his numbers will actually be THREE times greater than they are now, rather than just twice? If that were the case, his totals would actually look like this: (27-3 / 1.99 ERA / 282-60 K-BB)

Want to get even more absurd? Extrapolate those numbers out over the course of an entire season and you get this: (36-4 / 1.99 ERA / 376-80 K-BB)

Those are mind-boggling numbers. Is there any way that Liriano can even come close to putting up even the tamer 18-2, sub 2.00 ERA version? Well, I don't see why not. He has answered every challenge that has come his way thus far. And I want to point something else out that no one seems to be mentioning: In all of the complaining over Liriano being in the bullpen until May 19, everyone seems to forget that it is very common for Rookie pitchers to tire out in August and September when they've spent the entire season in the rotation, since the MLB schedule is longer and more wearing on players than Minor League schedules. Liriano was spending HIS April and May in the bullpen, getting occasional use, but not the heavy use that starters get. In other words, I see no reason why he should tire nearly as much as many of his young starting counterparts (Justin Verlander, for instance) are likely to.

I just thought the numbers above were fun to look at; I'm not in any way saying that Liriano will ever win 27, let alone 36 ballgames in a year. But man, just imagine it . . . Moving On:

1B - Justin Morneau (.299 BA / 44 HR / 142 RBI)
C - Joe Mauer (.391 BA / 12 HR / 82 RBI)
RF - Michael Cuddyer (.272 BA / 22 HR / 96 RBI)

I could do some more work and try to give numbers for Jason Kubel and Jason Bartlett, but I think these three are plenty. Do I expect Joe Mauer to hit .391 this season? No . . . but it sure is fun to look at. On the other hand, I don't see why Morneau couldn't put up those numbers. It would be an MVP caliber season if he did, but he certainly appears to have figured out how to hit at the Major League level. At this rate, the Twins will get over the 30-homerun curse by the end of July.

I could post some more on this subject, but I think this post is long enough for now. What an incredible half-season it's been, and what an incredible second-half awaits!


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