Minnesota Twins Mid-Season Report Cards
By: Christopher Torola
Catcher: Joe Mauer - Games - 64, BA. - .373, R - 49, HR - 15, RBI - 49, SB - 1
Not only has Joe Mauer been the the teams MVP, he should be on the short list for MLB's MVP award this year. After missing the first month of the season, he has put up amazing numbers. Most notably, his increased power. Given he has one of the best swings in baseball the jump in power does not seem to be taking away from his MLB leading batting average, which if he maintains, will be his 3rd batting title in just 4 years. Add his amazing hitting numbers with his Gold Glove caliber defense behind the plate and we have an overall grade of: A+.
1st Base: Justin Morneau - Games - 88, BA. - .311, R - 59, HR - 21, RBI - 70, SB - 0
Justin is the Twins' other candidate for both the team's and the American League MVP. He has managed to increase his power numbers while also increasing his batting average. Hitting behind Joe Mauer and Denard Span has really helped Justin's RBI numbers as well, as he is on pace for 130 RBIs, a number that should increase being that both Mauer and Span missed significant time in the first half. Maybe the most under-rated part of Justin's game is his steadily increasing defense. He has only one error at 1st this year and plays in almost every game. Although he was not voted to start at 1st in the All-Star game by the "fans", I tend to agree with the players that voted him number 1 at first base, and strongly beleivethat Justin is the AL's best first base men, not an easy task with the likes of Miguel Cabrera, Mark Teixeira, and Kevin Youkilis in the field. Overall grade of : A+.
Closer: Joe Nathan - Innings Pitched - 34 1/3, Wins - 1, Loss - 1, ERA - 1.31, Saves - 23, Ks - 43
Joe Nathan has been one of the, if not the most reliable, closers in all of baseball since taking over the job for the Twins. This year is no exception. Before last year most followers of the Twins, myself included, thought that we would lose Nathan along with Johan Santana and Torii Hunter. When the Twins resigned Nathan to a multi-year deal, they may have made the biggest impact signing of the three. He continues to do an amazing job slamming the door shut in the final inning for the Twins. Overall grade: A+.
Starting Pitcher: Kevin Slowey - Innings Pitched - 90 2/3, Wins - 10, Loss - 3, ERA - 4.86, Walks - 15, Ks -75
Despite average numbers, Slowey has been able to accumulate an amazing win/loss record. He is 10 - 3 which is tied for 3rd best in the American League with Roy Halladay and Jered Weaver. In the mold of Twins pitchers Slowey has excellent control, averaging one walk every six innings. Although currently on the disabled list, he should be back shortly. His overall grade: A-.
Starting Pitcher: Nick Blackburn - Innings Pitched - 123 1/3, Wins - 8, Loss - 4, ERA - 3.06, Walks - 29, Ks -54
Although Blackburn's record is slightly behind Kevin Slowey, he have been the better pitcher up to this point. He has the teams best ERA, 6th best for starters in the American League. He has been able to go late into games, saving on the bullpen. 15 -17 wins is not out of the question is he continues to command his dominating sinker ball. Overall Grade: B+.
Outfielder: Denard Span - Games - 73, BA. - .292, R - 50, HR - 5, RBI - 31, SB - 16
Span has been the lead off hitter that the Twins have been missing for so many years. He has excellent plate discipline taking many pitches per at bat. In doing so he reaches base at a good clip, as seen by his .387 on base percentage. He also, has speed on the base paths and is leading the team in stolen bases. Pair is excellent stick work with his ability to play all outfield positions with great range and a strong arm, and Denard's overall grade: B+.
Left Fielder/DH: Jason Kubel - Games - 77, BA. - .311, R - 38, HR - 14, RBI - 45, SB - 0
Kubel has finally stepped up with his bat, proving that he can be the Twins everyday designated hitter. He will likely never be better then adequate in the field since early career knee surgery, his bat has kept him in the line up in most games. He will spell players at left field from time to time but is best served as a masher. He definitely has his splits vs. right and left-handed pitchers, hitting under .200 against leftys with no home runs. Against rightys, on the other hand, he is hitting .351 with 14 long balls, 16 doubles, and 1 triple. Overall grade: B.
Right Fielder: Michael Cuddyer - Games - 82, BA. - .273, R - 50, HR - 14, RBI - 47, SB - 4
The biggest step forward for Cuddyer this year may be that he is actually playing. Last year seemed to be a series of fluke injuries for the Twins right fielder. After a slow start, he has been on fire at the plate. He also expertly play's the Metrodome's baggy in right field. With his strong and accurate arm most opponents have learned not to even try take the extra base on him. Overall grade: B.
The current Twins bull pen: Wins - 5, Loss - 2
The bullpen currently consists of Matt Guerrier, Jose Mijares, Bobby Keppel, Brian Duensing, and R.A. Dickey. Guerrier had been great as a set up man this year. Dickey was able to completely save the teams bullpen pitching in both long relief as well as high pressure close game situations. Mijares has been the Twins left handed specialist. Keppel has been great since coming to the Twins, while Duensing is still to fresh to call. The bullpen as a whole has seen its ups and downs, but the crew currently holding down the fort gets an overall grade of: B-.
3rd Base: Joe Crede - Games - 68, BA. - .234, R - 32, HR - 14, RBI - 40, SB - 0
Crede does not hit for average. He also misses a lot of games due to his back problems. I guess it is good that we knew that when he was signed. He does hit for power, and is top of the line at defending the hot corner. If i were grading him compared to what the Twins have had recently at 3rd, his grade would be much higher. As is, overall grade: C+.
The rest of the Rotation. Scott Baker - 7-7 5.24 era, Fransisco Liriano 4 - 9 5.47 era, and Glen Perkins 4 - 5 4.71 era.
None have wining records. Baker and Liriano were expected to be the 1-2 punch in the rotation. Both have started to pick their games up but will need to improve for the Twins to see the post season. Perkins has been about as good as should be expected for a #5 pitcher. Overall Grade: C.
Shortstop : Brendan Harris - Games - 76, BA - .275, R - 30, HR - 5, RBI - 26, SB - 0
Harris has had the ability to ride out a couple hot streaks this season, but has also had extended slumps. He is forced to hit in the 2 hole in the line up, but would be better suited as an 8 or 9 hitter. He has a strong arm at short, but is lacking in range. Overall grade : D+.
2nd Base: Nick Punto - Games - 63, BA - .201, R - 26, HR - 0, RBI - 16, SB - 8
While never know for his bat, Punto is barely holding a .200 batting average, which is pathetic for a major league baseball player. He has great defense, and can make many highlight reel stops, but I would argue that his batting short comings outweigh his defensive prowess. Overall grade: D.
Center Fielder: Carlos Gomez - Games - 77, BA - .235, R - 28, HR - 2, RBI - 18, SB - 7
The Twins would love to be able to go 1-2 with Denard Span and Carlos Gomez, but until Gomez learns some plate disipline, he will continue to be relegated to splitting time in the OF with Kubel and Young. A large number of Gomez's games have been as a defensive replacment, so although he has 77 games, he has only 187 at bats. Carlos Gomez has the raw talent, but until he learns how to be a major league hitter, he will continue to be below average. His defense on the other hand is amazing. His year to date grade is low, but should improve as he gets more at bats. Overall Grade: D.
Left Fielder: Delmon Young - Games - 56, BA - .266, R - 20, HR - 3, RBI - 25, SB - 2
Delmon has seemed lost at the plate since joining the Twins. His power has virtually disappeared. He has been swinging at the first pitch seemingly more often then not. He is still very young and has plenty of talent, but lacks the defensive skill of Carlos Gomez, which will continue to cause him to split at bats with Gomez against left handed pitching. He has not lived up to expectations since being traded for Matt Garza. With more time Young should improve, but I would be very surprised were it to happen this year. Overall Grade: D-.