Posted at 11:21 AM on June 13, 2007
by Steve Rudolph
It’s time to reveal the answers to Monday’s “Higher or Lower” game. In that posting I tossed out five numbers and what they could correspond to at season’s end. Let’s review…
17 – The number of wins Johan Santana will record this year. Higher or lower?
I say, “Higher.” Santana has historically been a late-season pitcher and there’s no reason to believe he won’t record 12 wins in his final 20 starts. He should have 8 or 9 wins already if the Twins could give him more run support.
Will the number of wins it will take to earn the A.L. Wild Card berth this year be higher or lower than 95?
Higher. 95 games has historically been the number needed to gain postseason play, but I wouldn't be surprised if the second place team in the A.L. Central winds up with 96 or 97 wins. What does this mean for the Twins? It means they need to get hot in a hurry. To finish the season 95-67 and have a shot at the wild card, the currently .500 Twins must win 64 of their final 100 games. That is not going to be easy.
The number of Twins winning Rawlings Gold Glove awards will be one, Torii Hunter. Higher or lower?
Higher. The Twins have four potential Gold Glove winners, but Luis Castillo has the best chance of joining Hunter as a Twins recipient. Currently second in fielding percentage among everyday second basemen, Castillo gained national notoriety for his major league record of consecutive errorless games at the position. He’s also won the award in the National League. Combine that with his lofty batting average and he's a virtual lock. Why hitting should factor into the Gold Glove award is beyond me, but it does every year.
The other two Twins who have a shot at receiving Rawlings Gold Glove awards are Johan Santana and Michael Cuddyer. Santana might be the game’s best fielding pitcher, but Kenny Rogers has a stranglehold on this honor. Cuddyer leads the league in outfield assists with 14 and is playing better than any right fielder in baseball. However, they don’t select by outfield position so it’s likely another center fielder (Vernon Wells) and right fielder Ichiro Suzuki will once again win on reputation.
40 – Justin Morneau’s homerun tally this season. Higher or lower?
Higher. He’s cooled off of late, but I think this is the year where the Twins finally get another 40 homerun hitter. The last one to him more than 40 was Harmon Killebrew in 1970. Morneau is on pace and I don’t think he’s hit stride this year despite his torrid May. If he can hit a couple more this month, he’ll only need to average six or seven a month to top 40.
Higher or lower, the number of homeruns hit by the rest of the Twins infield will be 5?
Higher, but with an asterisk. Twins infielders other than Morneau will combine for more than five home runs this season, but Castillo, Punto and Bartlett won’t be able to do it alone. I’m convinced the team will add a bat, and one with some pop. The likely position for that hitter is either third or DH. If it’s a DH, look for him to get some time at first base so the Twins can rest Morneau, but keep his bat in the lineup.