As I was editing the Twins Official Scorecard this weekend, I checked a fact dug up by Eric Johnson of tkTwinsCities.com. He claimed:
“The Twins 2011 Opening Day lineup looked like this:
Since Opening Day, that lineup has been on the field exactly one time. And that was on April 7th.”
The seemed a little far-fetched, so I checked it out. Which is where I found out that the truth is even worse.
According to baseball-reference.com, they didn’t even have those same players in the lineup on 4/7. On 4/7, Thome started over Delmon Young. In fact, they have NEVER started those same players in the starting lineup together since Opening Day – not in any combination.
Now, I imagine that isn’t terribly rare. For instance, if a player from that Opening Day lineup is out for the season with an injury, that would happen. A team would simply plug a new player into that position and roll with that lineup. But injuries have prompted the Twins to take that inconsistency to a whole different level. Through 75 games (that would be through Saturday’s game) the Twins have sported 71 different batting orders.
Read that last sentence again.
I’d love to show you the order that the Twins have used the most, but the truth is that they have NEVER used exactly the same batting order more than twice. And it isn’t just because they are having guys bat in different places in the order. They also haven’t fielded any defensive lineup more than three times all season. The daily lineup tweets are as suspenseful and random as lotto numbers.
The moral of the story? While it’s tempting to shift our criticism to the offseason or the fielding or the starting pitching or the bullpen, the fact remains: the story of the season is injuries. I know writers are tired of writing about it, and the team is tired of talking about it, and readers are tired of reading about it. That’s because this string of bad voodoo has gone on forever.
But its length just compounds its impact. Just because we have run out of adjectives beyond “ridiculous” to describe its effect, doesn't make it any less important.