What the Twins have been doing in the 2nd half of the year, for what seems like forever, has carried them farther than we could ever dream after the All-Star Break. But what will carry them to a fast start this season, and lay a claim to the AL Central crown before we’re through May?
- Be healthy. Old Ronnie Gardenhire seems to have been happy with everyone heading into Toronto for our first series of the year. The Twins avoided the injury bug at the end of Spring Training and with a healthy Mauer, Morneau, Cuddyer, and healthy arms on all of our pitchers, the Twins should sprint out to a quick start, Toronto excluded.
- Consistency with runners in scoring position. The Twins are inevitably up and down in clutch scenarios, we’re batting .148 as a team right now, even worse with runners in scoring position, small sample size be damned! When Cuddyer gets a hit with 2 men on, Twitter goes crazy with the #ClutchCuddyer hashtag. When he gets caught looking in the same scenario, Twitter responds identically, #ClucthCuddyer, though obviously there is less jubilation. We need the Twins to respond like our friends at Twitter and put together solid ABs when the pressure is on, and we need to hit consistently well (1 hit against Toronto is the reverse of consistency). If we’re hitting under .200 with RISP after April 15, we’re going to be behind the Tigers and the White Sox already.
- The Twins need to remember what home runs are like (The Blue Jays are fully aware). Remember being in the Dome? Remember how exciting homeruns were? Remember how often the Twins hit them? Surely Target field is going to steal homeruns from a guy like Joe Mauer who hammers line drives into the seemingly endless alleys at Target Field, but we shouldn’t expect the low numbers of 2010 keep the Twins down in 2011. The Twins should progress nicely back towards the mean and hit more homeruns in 2011, especially at Target Field. This will mean that when we play teams from the AL East we have a chance to put a lot of runs on the board, and we have a chance to compete (after watching the first two games of this series, I’d settle for a couple of XBH.)
Be patient with the Twins. The Twins will rebound from this 0-2 start, but let’s hope it is before the end of July.