I think most baseball fans would get the right answer if asked to name the team with the worst run differential this year (Houston, of course.) But I’m guessing not many would guess the team with the second-worst run differential – the Twins. Sixty runs worse than the Mariners is bad. And while this might not be quite as surprising as it should be given their status as perennial contenders — anyone who watches the Yankees obliterate them year after year knows that their talent wasn’t all that impressive — I certainly wouldn’t have expected them to be 100 runs worse than the Pirates, either.
What’s more striking, looking at the roster, is that I’m not sure that this is a one-year aberration; this just isn’t much of a team. It seems very unlikely that Morneau, already 30, will be good and healthy again. If Mauer stays at catcher he probably won’t stay healthy, but playing at the corners his offense just isn’t that impressive unless he hits like 2009 every year. And beyond that, the team is just dreadful — not only are they barely outscoring the historically inept Mariners in neutral parks, their only good hitters this year (Cuddyer and the now-departed Thome) are past their prime. Even if Mauer comes back, it doesn’t figure to be a good offense anytime soon. Pitching wise, they’re in the same boat, as the strategy of putting together slightly above-average pitch-to-contact guys has turned into below-average pitch-to-contact guys, with their only effective starter this year a 29 year-old with elbow problems.
Basically, the only things they have going for them are a decent amount of resources and a weak division. But it’s hard to see this team back for its traditional sweep by the Yankees anytime soon.