Minnesota Twins: Bats Go Quiet with Runners On Base

Nelson Cruz of the Minnesota Twins bats during the fifth inning of a game against the Chicago White Sox. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
Nelson Cruz of the Minnesota Twins bats during the fifth inning of a game against the Chicago White Sox. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

There are many reasons for the Minnesota Twins fall from grace this season. The bullpen has been a dumpster fire, the back end of the starting rotation has imploded, and the fielders are saying “ole’” when the ball comes their way. But another big reason for their demise this year has been their lack of clutch hitting.

I am hearing from various fans who are saying “the Twins aren’t hitting this year.” Why? Where is the Bomba Squad? Shouldn’t Nelson Cruz, Josh Donaldson, Miguel Sano, and the rest of crew be lighting up MLB skies with their moon shots?

My answer to these folks is simple. The Twins are hitting. They are just not hitting with runners in scoring position. The Minnesota Twins have the 11th best batting average in baseball. They are only hitting .240 as a team, but that is still better that 19 other Major League teams.

The perspective changes when you examine the Twins’ batting average with runners in scoring position. In that statistical category, they rank 20th. They are hitting a paltry .237 with base runners on second and third base. That simply isn’t going to do the job.

The Minnesota Twins currently rank 6th in most runners left in scoring position with an average of 3.66 per game. Last year, they ranked dead last with a per game average of 2.60.  As an example, Cruz is hitting a commendable .292 so far this season. With runners in position to score, he is hitting a miniscule .143. Brutal.

In general, the Minnesota Twins are leaving a lot of runners stranded on every base. The Twins current MLB rank for most runners left on base is 22nd with 7.12 per game. Last year, they came in at 6th with 6.31 per game. The lack of run support has put added pressure on a pitching staff that has struggled this year.

Minnesota Twins
Manager Rocco Baldelli of the Minnesota Twins looks on against Cleveland. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /

Manager Rocco Baldelli has tried shaking up his batting order to produce better results but most of his efforts have been in vain. The one constant is all of this turmoil is the injured Byron Buxton who is hitting .370 overall and .368 with runners at second and third.

When your best hitter is out, things get even worse. Buxton did everything he could to keep this team in contention, to put the team on his shoulders, and the stress of his absence is visible on the field.

The Minnesota Twins will need to see improvement in all areas of play for them to get themselves back in contention in the AL Central. The inability of their bullpen to close games and the inconsistent play in the field must be addressed, but if they continue to strand so many runners on base each game, they will end up on the outside looking in come playoff time.

Next. Minnesota Twins: Ranking the Twins’ 3 Biggest Issues. dark