Can you name the team that's scoring the most runs per game in the AL Central? Somehow it's the Minnesota Twins. They're even scoring more runs per game than the Yankees.
It doesn't even seem possible they could score as many runs considering the Twins are just 11th in the AL in walks, 9th in OBP and 9th in OPS. They also have a leadoff hitter with an OBP of just .297. And a left fielder with an OPS of .692. Oh, and they've also hit just 50 home runs - last in the AL. Moneyball this is not.
The reason for their success seems to be an amazing .314 BA with runners in scoring position. They're an amazing .28 points of BARISP ahead of the next club.
Can that last? Probably not. It would appear Minnesota's offense will regress once their prowess with runners on falls back to their overall stats. The Twins are not exactly the darlings of PECOTA with the projection system seeing just an 8.6 percent shot for the Twins to make the playoffs. The Tigers, by contrast, have a 20 percent shot.
But that may not mean Minnesota's climb to the top of the AL standings (just a .5 game out as of Wednesday) will come to a halt.
Going into the season most thought the Twins would have good pitching and poor hitting. The pitching hasn't been there as it's 11th in starters' ERA and 7th in relievers' ERA. Part of a problem is they're 27th in defensive efficiency. Hum, maybe that Jason Bartlett trade didn't work out and the Twins finally realize he had good range. Adam Everett's breakthrough as a Gold Glove candidate didn't pan out due to his now chronically looking injury concerns.
The young starting pitching is showing signs of improving (Livan Hernandez counts for a big part of the bad ERA numbers). The defense could improve if Everett returns or Nick Punto (crazy talk?) takes over at short for range-challenged Brendan Harris. And the Twins' recent surge (eight-game winnings streak) has come along with Alexi Casilla taking over the second base job. His .347 OBP ahead of Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau really seems to have made a difference.
It's still a rebuilding year for the Twins and the offense is somewhat fluky, but in a year where the AL Central is wide open - and far below expectations - there's reason to think Minnesota can be competitive into September.