Friday, September 22, 2006

Can't Win 'Em All

Just a few days ago, local headlines were making statements like "Morneau wins MVP duel with David Ortiz" and other conglomerations of headlines that suggested Ortiz had just about lost it. Well, in response, Ortiz has absolutely crushed three balls in the last two games, including taking Johan Santana and Matt Guerrier deep last night.

By doing so, Ortiz took surpassed Jimmie Foxx's 69-year-old Boston record of 50 homers from his 1938 MVP season. Ortiz now has 52 home runs and 132 RBI. Of course, won't win the MVP, but his season now ranks among the top for designated hitters and he's now hit the most home runs ever by a DH, despite the fact that Jim Thome (52, 2002) and Mark McGwire (52, 1996) probably should have been DHs.

However, Ortiz's blast and some Santana struggles probably mean that Johan has no shot at the MVP anymore. Justin Morneau may still, but he'll need a great last week to beat out Derek Jeter. Santana didn't have a terrible start, but five innings, six hits, four runs (two earned), three walks, and three strikeouts isn't exactly a Johan line. The last two starts, he hasn't had his dominating stuff at all, which may be of some concern.

If Johan continues to struggle down the strech, the Twins may end up resting him for the playoffs, since they are now pratically guaranteed a spot in the postseason (the White Sox lost again last night). However, I don't really think Santana will struggle and I'm sure he'll be up to the task of beating Kansas City and Chicago in his last two starts.

Offensively, the Twins shot nothing but blanks against Josh Beckett. Morneau had a hit, while Joe Mauer and Torii Hunter each went 2-for-4 and Jason Bartlett went 2-for-3. However, the rest of the lineup produced just one hit and the team left a total of seven runners on. The fact that the Twins didn't walk against a guy who has the fift-most walks in the league (73) and didn't homer against a guy nearly as easy to take deep as Carlos Silva (34 home runs allowed) is depressing.

Of course, since the White Sox and Tigers both lost, it isn't a huge loss for the Twins and it's pretty tough to go 6-0 on the year against such an offensively talented team, even if they have struggled terribly of late.

Speaking of Silva, tonight he and the Twins start a weekend series at Camden Yards against the Orioles. (Let's not speak of that tragedy. What a wasted beautiful ballpark!) Hopefully, he can reduce the home run rate allowed to Nick Markakis. Otherwise it could be another long night at Camden.

Tonight, the Twins face a guy similar to Beckett, except with considerably worse control: Daniel Cabrera. Cabrera has a league-high 99 walks in only 132 innings, an incredibly bad walk rate. He has struck out 144, though. In his one start against the Twins this year, he walked six, struck out five, and gave up five hits in six innings, yet gave up no runs. Let's try and switch that trend tonight.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yesterday Glenn Perkins made his debut and looked better than CY candidates Santana & Carpenter...

Nick N. said...

Well 1.1 IP is not exactly the most telling sample size, but Perkins did indeed look good. He blew away that first batter.

ubelmann said...

Nice recap. One thing to keep in mind about Cabrera is that while his walk rate has been out-of-this-world ridiculous on the season, lately he's tamed it to levels around 5 BB/9. You can check out the trend here at fangraphs. While 5 BB/9 isn't great, you can succeed when you're striking out more than a batter per inning. The canonical example would probably be Nolan Ryan, who struck out about 10 batters per nine innings but also walked about 5 batters per nine innings in his career. Should be an interesting game tonight.

Nick N. said...

Good points ubelmann. Glad to see you around here.

Silva and Cabrera are very opposite types of pitchers, to be sure.

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