• Why Twins Will Give Yanks A Good Fight

    Posted by on October 7th, 2009 · Comments (17)

    The Yankees played the Twins seven times this season – and won all seven games. But, let’s look at those games:

      Cnt    Date     Tm   Opp Reslt INN
    +----+-------------+---+----+-------+----+
        1 2009-07-09 NYY  MIN W  6-4   9
        2 2009-07-08 NYY  MIN W  4-3   9
        3 2009-07-07 NYY  MIN W 10-2   9
        4 2009-05-18 NYY  MIN W  7-6   9
        5 2009-05-17 NYY  MIN W  3-2  10
        6 2009-05-16 NYY  MIN W  6-4  11
        7 2009-05-15 NYY  MIN W  5-4   9
       

     
    What do you see here? Four of these seven games were very close – being one-run wins. Six of these seven games were decided by two runs or less. And, two of those six games went into extra innings.

    So, while the Yankees took all seven games from the Twins this season, these were very close contests.

    Next, how did these two teams trend out to end the season?

    In their last 21 games of the 2009 season, the Yankees went 12-9.
    In their last 21 games of the 2009 season, the Twins went 17-4.

    Therefore, the Twins were the “hotter” team towards the end of the season this year.

    Of course, the Twins are heading into this ALDS tired and spent whereas the Yankees are rested and have been prepping for this series for the last three weeks (or longer). That said, the Twins are probably very happy that they will have off-days on Thursday and Saturday this week.

    And, I don’t think the Twins are sweating the Yankees as much as some people think they should be…and I hope the Yankees don’t think they’re going to “steamroll” their way past the Twins in this ALDS – because, this season, these teams kept their games close; and, the Twins have been playing outstanding baseball lately (when the Yankees were not playing at that same level).

    Comments on Why Twins Will Give Yanks A Good Fight

    1. YankCrank
      October 7th, 2009 | 10:10 am

      I see your point, but there will be one thing that’s missing from those games.

      The guy who hit .563 with 3 HRs and 4RBI in the four games in New York. Justin Morneau is a huge missing piece to that team and they aren’t as dangerous without him, idc how many games they’ve won against the Royals and Tigers in the last month.

      No, the Twins won’t roll over and they are the hottest team out there, but this isn’t us running into a team with shutdown pitching, perfect defense or an overwhelming offense. The Yankees are better than the Twins in every facet of the game and i’m extremely confident we’ll handle them this series.

    2. clintfsu813
      October 7th, 2009 | 10:13 am

      In their last 21 games of the 2009 season, the Yankees went 12-9.
      In their last 21 games of the 2009 season, the Twins went 17-4.

      How many B lineups did the Twins roll out as opposed to The Yankees? We played safe the last 21 games and obviously didnt have the absolute need to win as did Minnesota. Furthermore, The Twins didnt win 5 of 6 vs LAA/BOS in that span like we did.

    3. MJ
      October 7th, 2009 | 10:37 am

      Regular season means nothing. You can’t predict what’ll happen this week based on seven games, the last of which was played nearly three months ago to the day.

      The Yanks may win or the Yanks may lose, but it’ll have nothing to do with what happened when these two teams faced eachother in May and July. If anything, the Yanks got better as a team since the last time they faced the Twins. I’m not saying the Twins aren’t hot but it’s not like the Twins played the post-All Star Yanks…

    4. Evan3457
      October 7th, 2009 | 1:47 pm

      Hmmm…you used to be so big into “Who have they beaten?”, back when the Yanks couldn’t beat the Phils, Angels and Red Sox.

      The Twins went 17-4. Heres who they beat:

      Detroit: 5 wins, 3 losses, including the playoff game. The Tigers didn’t seem to impress you as a good team when the Yankees beat them.

      Oakland: 1 win. The A’s were 75-87 this year.

      Cleveland: A 3-game sweep. The Indians were 65-97 this year.

      Chicago: A 3-game sweep. The White Sox impressed you greatly as a good team when they took 3 of 4 from the Yanks. When the Yanks returned the favor by sweeping them at the Stadium, they became an “unmentionable”. The White Sox finished 79-83, 7 1/2 games back in a terrible division.

      Royals: 5 wins, 1 loss. The Royals were tied with the Indians at 65-97. Only when Grienke was pitching did the Royals have a good chance to win a game.
      ==============================
      17-4 is impressive, but 17-4 against this group of teams is nothing more than a good team getting hot against some bad teams mailing the rest of their season in. Not exactly panic-inducing.

    5. MJ
      October 7th, 2009 | 2:12 pm

      @ Evan3457:
      Absolutely brilliant de-pantsing of Steve’s “A win is only a win if it’s against Team X, Y or Z, otherwise a win is really a loss if it was against Team J, K, or L.”

    6. October 7th, 2009 | 2:22 pm

      @ Evan3457:
      @ MJ:

      Bill James says that “clutch” is a concept containing several elements:

      1. The score,
      2. The runners on base,
      3. The outs,
      4. The inning,
      5. The opposition,
      6. The standings,
      7. The calendar.

      Applying this to team play, I would offer that we need to look at:
      1. The opposition,
      2. The standings,
      3. The calendar.

      Sure, maybe the Twins didn’t have a tough schedule when they went on this run. But, you cannot ignore the standings and the calendar here – and that’s two things against the one thing (the opposition).

      The Twins proved something in September, even if it was against the Royals, Tribe, etc.

    7. Corey
      October 7th, 2009 | 2:22 pm

      @ Evan3457:
      Nice.

    8. MJ
      October 7th, 2009 | 3:31 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      The Twins proved something in September, even if it was against the Royals, Tribe, etc.

      You’d rather contradict your own Theory #1 when trying to prove Theory #2?

      Steve, give it up. The Twins had a great month and they should feel great about that. But you can’t argue both sides the same coin all the time.

    9. October 7th, 2009 | 3:33 pm

      @ MJ:
      It’s two different coins here. One is the Yankees getting fat, early in the season, beating scrubs and THEN not beating good teams.

      The other is the Twins winning games when they had their back against the wall and ZERO room for error.

      Apples and oranges.

    10. Raf
      October 7th, 2009 | 3:50 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      @ MJ:
      It’s two different coins here. One is the Yankees getting fat, early in the season, beating scrubs and THEN not beating good teams.
      The other is the Twins winning games when they had their back against the wall and ZERO room for error.
      Apples and oranges.

      But they were beating up on scrubs, weren’t they?

      The Tigers’ schedule was almost as easy; the majority of the games they played were with intra-divisional opponents.

    11. October 7th, 2009 | 3:57 pm

      @ Raf:
      There’s a difference between shooting fish in a barrel with no immediate downside on the outcome and shooting fish in a barrel where you die if you miss.

      That’s the difference here. Yanks beat scrubs early in the season, playing with house money, and nothing to lose. Twins beat scrubs where a loss meant end of season. That’s the pressure – and the difference.

    12. Raf
      October 7th, 2009 | 4:16 pm

      But they’re still playing scrubs. The teams that they were supposed to beat. At the end of the day, you’re still shooting fish in a barrel, and the Tigers and Twins were shooting the same fish.

      The Twins beat the scrubs early in the season too. So did the Tigers. Not sure where “house money” comes from given that no one has won anything up to that point. No one has anything to lose that early in the season.

    13. October 7th, 2009 | 4:39 pm

      @ Raf:

      What the Twins did the last 21 games of the season was basically play 21 elimination games – and they won 17 times. Were the Yankees playing elimination games mid-season when they were beating up on the O’s, Jays, Mets and A’s? No. That’s the difference.

    14. MJ
      October 7th, 2009 | 5:04 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      What the Twins did the last 21 games of the season was basically play 21 elimination games – and they won 17 times. Were the Yankees playing elimination games mid-season when they were beating up on the O’s, Jays, Mets and A’s? No. That’s the difference.

      All 162 games count equally. The notion that some games or some wins count more than others simply makes no sense.

    15. Raf
      October 7th, 2009 | 5:32 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      @ Raf:
      What the Twins did the last 21 games of the season was basically play 21 elimination games – and they won 17 times. Were the Yankees playing elimination games mid-season when they were beating up on the O’s, Jays, Mets and A’s? No. That’s the difference.

      The Twins weren’t playing elimination games until the last weekend of the season. The Twins matched the Tigers wins in Sept (16-11 and 16-12 respectively) catching them in October, when they went 5-0 to the Tigers’ 1-4.

      Heck, looking at month to month records, the Twins performed better than the Tigers 4 of the 7 months during the regular season

      APR: DET
      MAY: DET
      JUN: MIN
      JUL: MIN
      AUG: DET
      SEP: MIN
      OCT: MIN

      And elimination games or not, 6 of those 21 games came against teams like Kansas City. Scrubs. Whether scrubs are beaten in April, or September they should be beaten, and are beaten by good teams.

    16. October 7th, 2009 | 10:18 pm

      Hope you don’t mind if I post a link of mine. I wrote an article about how a sizzling September may get you to the playoffs, but it won’t keep you there:

      http://thefastertimes.com/mlb/2009/09/23/teams-that-sizzle-in-september-dont-always-win-in-october/

      This whole “hottest team wins the World Series” stuff is really a myth.

    17. Evan3457
      October 8th, 2009 | 12:11 am

      I didn’t intend to start a war with this.

      I would just like to point that MANY top team have rallied from behind, or a division or pennant away with late runs of .650-.700-.750-.800 ball.

      I would disagree strongly with Steve’s contention that it is more impressive to beat the weaker teams when a team is fighting for its life in a tough race than it is to beat them early in the season.

      In fact, quite the opposite. I hate it when the Yanks play bad teams early in the schedule because they haven’t accepted they’re bad, they haven’t accepted their fate early in the year. By the end of the year, many bad teams are just going through the motion, and if you hit them a couple of hard shots early in the game in the last 1/3 to 1/4 of the season, they go down and stay down, just as Kenny Singleton always says.

      When you’re in the race, you have all the incentive to play, all the motivation and emotion you need. When you’re facing a team out of the race, sure, sometimes they get their dander up and become a determined spoiler, but 4 times out of 5, bad teams are just a corpse looking for a place to fall down at that time of the season.

      To take another example from this season: just like the Twins, the Red Sox salted away their playoff slot with a tremendous run that started after the Yanks beat them two of three in Fenway in late August (and it really started when they swept Toronto the series before the Yankees series). After the Yanks beat ‘em, the Sox put away the wild card by winning 19 of 25. Here’s who they beat:

      The White Sox: 3 of 4 at home.
      The Blue Jays: swept of a 3 game series at home
      The Rays: Sox took 2 of 3 in Tampa
      Then the White Sox slowed them down by taking 3 of 4 in Chicago
      The Orioles: Sox swept a 2-game home series
      The Rays: Sox swept 3 in Fenway.
      The Angels: Sox took 2 of 3 in Fenway.
      And Finally, the Orioles again: Sox swept 3 in Baltimore.

      At that moment, they had gained 4 games on the Yanks, were just 5 games out and 4 on the loss side, and had move from 1 1/2 ahead of the Rangers to 8 games ahead with just 14 to play, and the Wild Card race was over. The next day, the Sox torpedoed their hopes of stealing the division title back by blowing a 6-run lead to the Royals. The day after, Grienke shut them down, and when the Yanks beat them on Friday, they basically mailed it in the rest of the way.

      In that 19-6 run, the Sox were 4-4 vs. the White Sox, 2-1 vs. the Angels (thank to the phantom ball 4 of Nick Green), had crushed the O’s 5 times, taken 3 from the Jays, and had whipped a Rays team that had all but quit on the season 5 out of 6. Remember, the Rays had been brutally hard for the Sox to better for more than a year and a half before the Kazmir trade.

      So, as I say: the Twins run was very impressive, but it was done against mostly crap teams, and at the time of the year that most crap teams will simply quit on a game given half a reason.

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