Monday, May 05, 2008

Tiger Taming

It may very well be that in the grand scheme of things, a three-game series in early May isn't all that meaningful. Nevertheless, there was something immensely satisfying about the Twins' weekend sweep over the Tigers. Perhaps it is because the Twins have now won five consecutive games, all against AL Central contenders. Or maybe it is because, with the exception of a rough first inning for Boof Bonser on Sunday, the Twins pitching staff effectively shut down a high-powered offense that had averaged 7.2 runs over its past 17 games. Mostly, though, I think it is because the Tigers have simply dominated the Twins in the recent past. Including their two-game sweep in Detroit earlier this season, the Tigers entered the weekend with a 25-14 record against the Twins since 2006.

The Twins offense showed some promising signs this weekend, scoring 22 runs in the three games and coming back from an early 6-0 deficit to earn a sweep-clinching victory in yesterday's finale. I was stunned by this offense's meager performance during the month of April, and fully expected some major improvement in May. We might be starting to see that. After seeing his batting average drop to a season-low .230 with a four-strikeout performance on April 22, Carlos Gomez has batted .450 and struck out only twice in 20 at-bats. Joe Mauer went 7-for-11 (.636) with four RBI in the Tigers series and is now hitting .333/.396/.434 on the season. Justin Morneau picked up five hits in the series and has his average up to .284.

The one player in the lineup who continues to be a major source of concern at this point is Delmon Young. He had a decent series over the weekend and he's drawn four walks in his past seven games after working just three in his first 23 games, but he hasn't collected an extra-base hit in two weeks and now sports an awful .307 slugging percentage. The frustration with Young isn't because he's failed to live up to his supposedly vast power potential, it's that he has shown NO power whatsoever over the first five weeks of the season, which is simply unacceptable for a left fielder, particularly one who only gets on base at a .306 clip.

Here's some perspective: through 114 at-bats, Young has totaled three doubles. That's the same number as Johan Santana has in 15 at-bats.

If Young can break out and start doing something with the bat, this offense could do some damage in the upcoming weeks, because several other players seem to be heating up. It's pretty difficult to enjoy much offensive success when the guy you're counting on to be your big right-handed stick can't outhit your former ace pitcher, though.

7 comments:

Josh's Thoughts said...

Great post, Nick. Another thing that's concerning about Young is that he was supposed to be our power threat down the line after showcasing great power in the Rays system. Now that he's been in the Twins' system (a system with obviously a lack of power threat) he has not shown any power which has made me start questioning (even more than I did before) about the methods the Twins teach their hitters. It's always been known that they want their hitters to slap the ball on the turf to make it tough on the defense, and I'm wondering if they somehow, someway told Young to just go for the single instead of the longball. Obviously his K/BB ratio doesn't suggest that, as he hacks at any pitch he sees, but his results show differently.

It's only a month into the season, and I don't think anyone really thought that at 22 years old he was going to start hitting 25-30 home runs, but having zero with really no power at all after a month does make me a little concerned.

Matt P said...

the young dilemma is a bit troubling. i really thought he was going to be more of a threat to go deep, but he is young. hitters slump and unfortunately he's in one. there must be a lot of expectations on him, especially since he was the cornerstone of the matt garza deal. he would certainly benefit from a little plate discipline though. both he and gomez look like little leaguers in a home-run derby.

this week's game were certainly a delight to watch, and boy the twins sure came up big. as you mentioned detroit has certainly had our number after we beat them out for the division title in 06. the last good series i can remember against them was in detroit in 06 when morneau jacked his 30th of the season to win the game. good thing we turned that around.

the biggest improvement i saw this weekend was timely hitting. it seems in the past the twins have always been a lackluster 2 out hitting team and it seemed like everyone improved on that. four players notched 2 out rbi's and only one was left in scoring position with 2 out. all of those hits were pretty clutch but the most surprising was punto's. he has improved from his year last year, but it would be hard for him not to. it seems the twins versatility in their line up is certainly paying off for them.

happy cinco de mayo.

Nick N. said...

Now that he's been in the Twins' system (a system with obviously a lack of power threat) he has not shown any power which has made me start questioning (even more than I did before) about the methods the Twins teach their hitters.

There might be something to that, but the fact is that Young's power has been trending downward for a few years now, so it's not like he had some random power drop-off when he got to Minnesota.

chris tatarek said...

There might be something to that, but the fact is that Young's power has been trending downward for a few years now, so it's not like he had some random power drop-off when he got to Minnesota.



u might want to check your facts on this one buddy

Nick N. said...

u might want to check your facts on this one buddy

OK...

2004 (A): 513 AB, 25 HR, .536 SLG
2005 (AA/AAA): 558 AB, 26 HR, .523 SLG
2006 (AAA/MLB): 468 AB, 11 HR, .474 SLG
2007 (MLB): 645 AB, 13 HR, .408 SLG

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