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lt's easy to grin,
when your ship comes in,
and you've got the stock market beat.
But the man worthwhile
is the man who can smile
when his shorts are too tight in the seat.
- Judge Smails
There’s nothing like scoring a single run over three games to make fans wonder about their favorite team. That’s especially true for Twins fans, who have obsessed about their lack of offensive firepower since Tom Brunansky was traded for Tommy Herr. We’re probably especially sensitive right now, since the trading deadline passed, leaving nothing more than rumors about unreasonable demands for big bats.
Also, looking at the lineups this weekend, it’s easy to find room for improvement. On many nights, the Twins string together Jason Tyner, Jason Bartlett, Luis Castillo and Nick Punto, and that foursome would be lucky to hit fifteen home runs in a year, combined. One could also make a pretty good argument that three of those four players are playing way over their head. If it pleases the court, I’d like to submit the following as Evidence A: As Jason Bartlett strode to the plate on Sunday, my wife turned to me and said “Hold it – the scoreboard says he’s hitting .356? Is that right?”
A more obvious deficiency is the “production” the Twins have received from their designated hitter over the last two years. Last year, the designated hitters for the Twins hit just .254. This year, all designated hitters combined have just five home runs. There isn’t another American League team with less than eleven. Heck, there’s a National League team who nearly has that many from their designated hitter (the Phillies, with three home runs).
But there’s a problem with picking apart the individual pieces of the lineup. At the beginning of June, the Twins added Bartlett, Punto and Jason Kubel to the everyday lineup. About that time, Justin Morneau started hitting with power, and Michael Cuddyer staked out the fourth spot in the lineup. So, how has the Twins revamped lineup performed since June 1st?
Runs from 6/1 - 8/10
357 Chicago Sox
327 LA Angels
322 Kansas City
310 NY Yankees
284 Tampa Bay
The problem with picking apart this lineup, is that for all of its faults, it’s working. One can argue that given their history, this group can’t hit like this forever, but after two-and-a-half months, maybe a little faith is in order. Or at least enough faith to carry fans through an impotent three-game stretch against Toronto.