I know it's easy to forget about the Twins and the completely forgettable 2013 season. It was a long rough season and it's over... but... You have to know where you've been to know where you are going so I'd like to take a look back at the season.
It's painful for us serious Twins fans to reflect on 2013. It's kind of like putting your tongue on a canker sore. It hurts a little when you do it but you do it again and again until it goes away.
I guess you do it so you know that you are alive.
Going into 2013... The Twins were clearly built for power. Nobody expected the Twins starting pitching staff to carry them. It was hoped that Starting pitching would do just well enough that the long ball on offense would collect some wins. The Twins were not going to be that small ball team that Gardenhire and Terry Ryan were successful with back when Ozzie Guillen called them piranhas. They had traded away Denard Span and Ben Revere for needed
pitching prospects and basically removed the speed element from the game. So
they walked into the season with power. So much power and so little speed that Joe Mauer was moved from the #3 spot in the order to the #2 spot. Following Joe Mauer (who is good
for .400 on base percentage every year) #3 through #7 were guys who all had 20
home run potential with regular playing time and the ability to drive Joe in. Willingham, Morneau, Doumit, Plouffe and Parmelee. In the case of Willingham and Plouffe... I'd say 30 home run potential.
Now that 2013 has concluded... We can see what that power did. Leading the team in home runs was Brian Dozier with 18. That's a nice year for Brian Dozier... but if Brian Dozier is leading your team in homers... you have a problem. Brian Dozier leading a team that was supposed to be one of the top power hitting teams in the American League is a huge problem.
Justin Morneau hit 17 dingers but he went through horrible long stretches without home runs. If it wasn't for an August hot streak that happened after it was clear the Twins were out of it... Morneau would have struggled to hit 10.
Josh Willingham hit 35 home runs in 2012... Willingham isn't a high average guy or a top flight defender. His entire game is power... He hit 14 home runs this year with .208 batting average.
Trevor Plouffe hit 24 home runs in 2012 during an injury plagued season. 30 Home runs was certainly possible for Trevor... He hit 14 home runs. Doumit hit 14 dingers and Parmelee
managed to send 8 into the bleachers.
On top of the lack of speed and the lack of power. The Twins struck out at a record setting pace. K's are bad for the simple reason that nothing happens without contact with the ball. Forget the home runs that you are supposed to get. You can't even move a runner over without putting the ball in play. The other teams defense don't have to worry about making an error because the ball isn't coming their way. K's remove any chance you have of accidentally scoring a run.
We had enough veterans that could of carried us but 2013 also introduced some Rookies to the lineup. Rookies that were supposed to be promising... Aaron Hicks and Chris Parmelee
produced well in the minors and were both former 1st round draft choices. There was reason to believe that they could contribute and both struggled mightily. Chris hit .228 with 8 dingers and Aaron Hicks hit .192 with 8 home runs. Oswaldo Arcia is another promising rookie that showed up last year. He showed flashes of his future talent but he was also bitten by the strikeout bug.
When you are striking out at an alarming rate and have very little speed and you are built for power and that power performs well below expectation like this squad did. You are going to need your starting pitching to be overwhelmingly good. This starting pitching staff had no chance to be overwhelmingly good. If you look at the pitching numbers for 2013. They are not
good because we had some pretty bad stinkers from time to time but I believe that the pitching staff wasn't as bad as the numbers suggest. The Twins had the chance to win a few more games because the pitching did keep them in games more often than they didn't but the pitching simply didn't have the talent to shut down teams and with the performance of the offense. They would have had to shut down teams.
The only bright spots on the squad were the bullpen and the double play combination of Brian Dozier and Pedro Florimon. Florimon is a stretch because he's a weak hitter but he was a fantastic defensive SS and you can sacrifice offense for good defense at that position and Pedro was as good as any SS in the league defensively. I'd add Joe Mauer to the list of bright
spots except that Joe did what he always does. Nothing more... Nothing Less.
Based on what they were expected to do and how they did... Here are the Grades:
Starting Pitching: C
It was a bad year and now we have to turn an eye toward 2014 and beyond. Ron Gardenhire is back so clearly it will be up to the players to change or the General Manager to change players.