Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Links of the Day for 5/17/06

By Intern Jimmy

Smile, It’s Johan’s Turn: It’s always a good day when #57 takes the mound. The hottest pitcher in baseball should rectify this latest 3 game skid (editors note: knock, knock). Santana’s last 4 starts have produced 4 wins, 40 K’s, 22 hits, 3 BB’s, and 7 earned runs in 29 innings. Looks like he’s settling into his mid-season groove a little earlier than normal. No complaints here.

At Long Last: Joy, rapture and an impatient sigh of “It’s about time” as Francisco Liriano steps out of the shadows to make his long anticipated start on Friday. I’ll now refrain from more unnecessary frothing at the mouth until after Friday’s performance.

Deja Vu: Like a teenager breaking curfew a week after his grounding was lifted, Kyle Lohse did little to help his cause Tuesday night. Lasting less than 3 innings, Lohse checked back into the pitiful pitching ward with his relapse, which begs the question- could the Twins have their second demotion of the week?

Milestone Mayhem: No, this is not another platform to denounce every meaningless at-bat as Babe Ruth’s home run mark is challenged by a fraud. (Did my inner monologue just write that?) Better, this great feature allows you to track the upcoming meaningful milestones for certain Twins players. Torii Hunter closes in on career hit 1,000 while Shannon Stewart and Rondell White chase career hit 1,500. Based on their starts, Stewart appeared to be in more of a hurry to reach the milestone. But lo and behold, with his RBI single last night, White finds himself in the midst of an 11-game hitting streak in which his batting average jumped .055 points. Pushing past the Mendoza line is Rondell’s next milestone.

Sacrificing the Sacrifice: The white whale of Web Gems – the triple play – rose to the surface on Sunday with a bunt attempt gone awry, drowning the promising inning and, effectively, the game. The fact that Luis Castillo was the culprit made the bunt blunder all the more egregious. The second baseman has converted 4 of the team’s total of 6 sacrifice hits on the season. A main ingredient to the small ball formula, the sac-less Twins are mired near the bottom of the Majors (24th in fact) when it comes to advancing runners. This got me thinking, how much or little have the Twins utilized the sacrifice hit (not the sac fly) in the last 5 years as they’ve risen to the top of the AL Central? For comparison’s sake, I looked at the Twins and White Sox team stats for sacrifice hits and runs, figuring runs scored is a natural by-product of placing more runners in scoring position.

Twins (SH/Runs) White Sox (SH/Runs)
2005 42/688 53/741
2004 46/780 58/865
2003 42/801 43/791
2002 34/768 48/856
2001 25/771 63/798

Plenty of theories and (skewed) conclusions can be made from this, but it’s interesting that the White Sox, a team that certainly has relied more on the long ball, uses the sac hit more consistently than the Twins. Also of note is the relative proximity in runs scored in 2001 despite the huge difference in sacrifice totals.

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