Thursday, April 12, 2012

Will April showers bring second half flowers?

Fans of the Twins are well aware of the slow start the club has gotten off to at the start the 2012 season. It seems that a segment of the fan base is worried that the Twins are falling back into the same patterns that lead to a 99-loss season in 2011. Scott Baker and Liam Hendriks have already been forced to the sidelines with injuries, there are still question marks in the bullpen, and the offense has struggled mightily at the plate. The hope was that the Twins would start the season by winning some games and putting last year behind them but this hasn't been the case so far this year.

Should this have been expected though? The Twins have a very tough schedule in the first month of the year that includes teams like the Angels, Rangers, Yankees, and Red Sox. It would have been nice to get out of the first month of the year with a .500 record but maybe that was a long shot. Are the Twins just not an early season team? Do they struggle to win games in the first portion of the year?

Since 2008, the Twins have only finished the month of April with an above .500 record one time. In 2010, the Twins got off to a hot start and the team would put together one of the best seasons in franchise history. The 2008 and 2009 seasons started slow but the team would end up in a one-game playoff for the Central Division at the end of each of those campaigns.
During this same time span, it has seemed that the first half of the year was a time to figure out how the team was going to develop over the course of the season. Around the All-Star break, the Twins would be near the .500 mark with the trade deadline fast approaching. Should the team add players for a second half run or should the team sit tight with the players they currently have on the roster? Even last year when the team would suffer in the second half of the year, the Twins were seven games under .500 in the first half of the year. Being near the .500 mark around the All-Star break has allowed the Twins and their fans to have a semblance of hope for the second half of the year.
The second half of the season seems to be where the Twins make a name for themselves by playing well in the AL Central. The unbalanced schedule and divisional play has helped the Twins to be in the playoffs or on the brink of the playoffs in three of the last four seasons. During last year, the Twins thought they could still be in the pennant race at the trade deadline so they held on to a lot of their veteran players. The second half surge never happened for that club but strong baseball in the second half of the year helped to form the identity for the other three teams on this list.
There is a good chance that the Twins are not on their way to winning 100 games this season but slow starts have been commonplace for Twins Territory in recent years. The baseball season is extremely long and a lot can happen between now and the end of the year. So there is no reason to overreact to the first handful of games. Like most of the last few seasons, the Twins will probably be near the .500 mark at the end of the first half of the year. What they do in the second half could be the difference in a 99-loss season and pushing for a spot in the postseason.

No comments: