Posted at 4:32 PM on October 4, 2005
by Ben Tesch
Playoff theories: Do they hold up?
Does pitching really win championships? Do you need momentum heading into the playoffs? Do small-ball teams fare better than power teams? Jeff Merron and David Schoenfield of ESPN.com decided to take a closer look at nine popular playoff theories.
Posted at 8:55 PM on October 4, 2005
by David Zingler
C: Joe Mauer .294/.372/.411, 9 HR, 55 RBI, 131 games
The Chosen One was solid, but unspectacular. He refuted the doubts about durability and we should see a nice boost in his power numbers next year.
Grade: B (midterm: B)
Also: Back-up Mike Redmond (.311/.350/.392) earns a B+ and Corky Miller gets a hug.
1B: Justin Morneau .239/.304/.436, 22 HR, 79 RBI
Morneau’s season went south for a variety of reasons. He still finished second (by a hair) on the team in homers and paced the anemic offense in RBI. The Twins number one prerogative this off-season should be to add a veteran power hitter (duh) to protect and mentor the big Canadian.
Grade: C- (midterm: C+)
Also: Doug Mientkiewicz hit .240/.322/.407 with 11 HRs and 29 RBI, but he did give the ball back.
2B: Luis Rivas (.257/.311/.316), Nick Punto(.239/.301/.335), Brent Abernathy (.239/.316/.299)
The Twins tried everything short of trading for Bret Boone to solidify this position. Oh wait, they did that too. Of the unimpressive bunch, I like Nicky Hustle the best.
Grade: D- (midterm: D)
Also: Expect the Twins to go out and add a marquee name like Alphonso Soriano to man this position next year. In addition, expect the Iraq War to end next week and Mike Tice to win Coach of the Year.
3B: Michael Cuddyer (.263/.330/.422), Luis Rodriguez (.269/.335/.383)
I get the feeling Cuddyer would have produced a little better if he hadn’t been the early season scapegoat. That being said, he didn’t get the job done. L-Rod meanwhile showed he could be a solid bench player.
Also: Corey Koskie hit a Cuddyer-like .239/.337/.398 and spent over a third of the season on the DL.
SS: Jason Bartlett (.241/.316/.335), Juan Castro (.257/.279/.386)
In retrospect, the Twins shouldn’t have given up so quickly on Bartlett. As Mr. Collins would say, Juan Castro played like Juan Castro.
Grade: C- (midterm: C)
Also: Cristian Guzman needed a hot streak to finish at .220/.261/.315. Once the top triple man in the game, he hit just 6 three-baggers this year.
LF: Shannon Stewart .274/.323/.388 10 HR, 56 RBI
For my money, this guy is the biggest culprit behind the Twins offensive woes. He makes good money ($6 million) and is a .300/.364/.441 career hitter. The Twins have to get more from this veteran.
Grade: D (midterm: C-)
Also: This season was the first time since 1998 (.279), that Stewart hasn't hit .300 or better.
CF: Torii Hunter .269/.337/.452, 14 HR, 56 RBI
I like Hunter and he is a valuable player, but he sure has been whining a lot. He was paid $8 million this year, but didn’t earn it – the face of the Twins played in just 98 games. You can call me cruel, but the injury hurts his grade.
Grade: C- (midterm: B+)
Also: With Denard Span, the Twins #1 pick in 2002, rapidly improving in at Double A, Torii could begin to hear foot steps by the end of next year.
RF: Jacque Jones .239/.319/.438, 23 HR, 73 RBI
Jacque has had nice run in Minnesota, but never really developed a command of the strike zone, which prevented him from becoming the star many of us thought he would be. Thanks for the memories, Jacque.
Grade: C (midterm: C)
Also: Jones appeared in at least 150 games in all three outfield positions during his stint with the Twins, and played them all at a Gold Glove level.
DH: Lew Ford .264/.388/.377 7 HR, 53 RBI, Matthew LeCroy .260/.354/.444, 17 HR, 50 RBI
For a DH, Lu-Lu is a heck of a fourth outfielder; LeCroy’s numbers, meanwhile, suggest he should have gotten more at-bats (304). I would like to see Jim Thome in this spot next year, but there’s a better chance of Terry Ryan doing shampoo commercials than that happening.
Grade: C- (midterm: C-)
Also: Whatever happened to that guy who used to be the Twins’ DH...I think his name was Manny Ortez or something like that??
If you still care, the pitchers will come later in the week.