Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Month in Review: May

Apologies for being AWOL yesterday. I was up north for a bachelor party over the weekend and needed a day to recover. Anyway, here's the Month in Review for May, a couple days late.

May Record: 15-13
Overall Record: 28-27 (2nd Place in AL Central)

The story of the month for the Twins was offensive improvement. After averaging only 3.8 runs per game in April, the Twins bumped that number up to 5.5 in May thanks to individual improvements nearly across the board. The pitching took a bit of a step back, with Boof Bonser having a real tough month that will likely see him knocked out of the rotation and Pat Neshek's injury taking a toll on the bullpen. Nevertheless, the improved offense led to a run differential of +8 (this in spite of the 19-3 shellacking in Detroit), a clear improvement over the -20 run differential in April.

Essentially, the Twins in May were pretty much exactly the team I was expecting overall this year. Solid offense, inconsistent starting pitching, and a record right around .500. What I didn't anticipate was that that record would put them within a couple games of first place.

A look at three players whose performances were outstanding over the past month, and three who fell bellow expectations.

Three Up:
1. Joe Mauer: .333/.442/.387, 0 HR, 11 RBI, 17 R, 0/0 SB
The lack of power from Mauer is disconcerting, as he managed only five extra-base hits (all doubles) in 93 at-bats and slugged only .387 for the month, but he's certainly contributing in other ways. Mauer drew 19 walks compared to only eight strikeouts in May, good for a fantastic .442 on-base percentage. He also stayed healthy and in the lineup, appearing in 24 of the team's 28 games.

2. Carlos Gomez: .299/.349/.448, 3 HR, 16 RBI, 17 R, 6/10 SB
After posting a ghastly .279 OBP in the season's first month, Gomez raised his batting average considerably in May and, in turn, reached base about 35 percent of the time. While far from ideal, that type of clip makes Gomez a useful leadoff man, especially when he's stealing bases and showing solid power. He's still striking out too much (more than once every four at-bats in May), but it was nevertheless an encouraging month for the young man.

3. Mike Lamb: .302/.340/.407, 1 HR, 12 RBI, 11 R, 0/1 SB
Lamb was one of the worst regulars in baseball in April, but finally started to look more like the hitter the Twins thought they were getting during the month of May. He still didn't show a great deal of patience or power, but he improved his batting average by more than 100 points.

Three Down:
1. Boof Bonser: 30.1 IP, 0-2, 8.60 ERA, 20 K / 11 BB, 1.62 WHIP
Bonser simply could not find his way out of the funk he got himself into. He was frequently the victim of bad luck and poor defense, but there's no denying that he had a poor month on the hill. He'll likely find himself in the bullpen when Scott Baker returns this week.

2. Brendan Harris: .217/.320/.289, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 11 R, 1/2 SB A solid contributor during the season's first month, Harris struggled at the plate in May. His batting average was horrible, and so was his slugging percentage thanks to a total of four extra-base hits in 23 games. Harris showed decent patience and drew 12 walks, but he needs to start hitting the ball.

3. Michael Cuddyer: .212/.273/.297, 1 HR, 17 RBI, 12 R, 3/3 SB
Just a really bad offensive month for Cuddyer. Could be that he's still being affected by the hand injury that seemingly sapped his power late last year. At the very least, he's off to a better start in June.

Danny Valencia - Ft. Myers Miracle
It wasn't too long ago that third base was a major sore spot for this organization. Last year, the team was getting horrid production at the position from Nick Punto, and Matt Moses and David Winfree had basically fallen off the prospect map. Trading for a third base prospect seemed like the only way to give this team some hope at the hot corner. Fortunately, that's starting to change. Along with April's prospect of the month, Luke Hughes (who continues to hit well in New Britain), Danny Valencia is really making a case to be the Twins' heir at third. After a solid April, Valencia flipped a switch in May and raked to the tune of .402/.431/.663 with 17 extra-base hits and 25 RBI in 24 games. He'll likely move up to Double-A in the near future, which will be a good test for the college-trained hitter.

The Twins held their own with a fairly tough schedule in May, but things won't get too much easier in June. The Twins finish up their current homestand against the Orioles, then have a tough divisional road trip where they travel to Chicago to face the first-place White Sox and then to Cleveland to face the underperforming Indians. Then it's on to interleague play, where the Twins have the misfortune of playing nine games against the Brewers and Diamondbacks (though they also have three games apiece against the Nationals and Padres, both of whom have struggled this year).


Anonymous said...

So I was planning on doing pretty much this type of thing tonight, on the heels of the Splinters I did for the Baltimore series.

Now that I've read yours, I'm biased...tainted. I'm tainted, Nelson.

Suppose I'll probably go thru with it anyway. Change something up.

Delmon and Cuddles have had some bright spots the last couple days...hopefully they can help pick things up this month.

Anonymous said...

Cuddy certainly had a poor month, but he is sure heating things up for June. I can't wait.