BY: Jason M. Sanin
Heading into the 2015 season, everyone knew that the Kansas City Royals would be the strongest team in the American League East, a reputation they have lived up to through two and a half months. But it’s the Minnesota Twins, a team not many expected much from heading into the season, that has been their biggest competition in the division so far, making baseball betting experts take note in the process.
Before the 2015 season, oddsmakers released their annual list of over/unders for Major League Baseball team win totals. In a sign of very little confidence in the team’s roster, the Minnesota Twins were assigned an over/under of 68.5 games, meaning that they were projected by oddsmakers to lose around 94 games. If a few games didn’t go their way, many believed that the Twins could be looking at a 100 loss season. So far, the Twins have defied those expectations, as they’ve posted 33 wins in their first 59 games, putting them on pace for closer to 90 wins than 60 wins
What Has Worked
The Twins have seen themselves exceed expectations thanks in large part to their pitching, which has been very good despite not having a big name starter with a sizable contract. Their team earned run average is at 3.80 on the season, good for 12th in Major League Baseball to this point in the campaign. Tipsters should be impressed by Minnesota’s performance in this area without the use of a highly priced free agent acquisition. In fact, the pitching staff is being led by Mike Pelfrey, who is more of a cast off than a prized acquisition. Pelfrey spent the beginning of his professional career in the New York Mets’ system, where he was expected to be the future of the pitching staff. Unfortunately, his performances never led him to successfully catching on in New York, as young pitchers like Mike Pelfrey and Jacob deGrom made names for themselves in his place.
Pelfrey, meanwhile, has been superb in Minnesota so far this year, posting a record of five wins and two losses in eleven starts. His earned run average is tops among Twins starting pitchers at 2.28, well below the team average of 3.80. For a team that was looking to not overspend on talent this year, Pelfrey has been a tremendous help to the squad, while making it clear to tipsters that Pelfrey’s starts are not to be missed.
What Needs Improvement
Of course, all of this is not to say that the Twins have been perfect this year. One look at their hitters would tell you that, as the team currently sits in the bottom half of the league in batting average and on base percentage. In fact, their most effective everyday player in the batting department has been Torii Hunter so far this year, who is only batting .268, and is also 39 years old. This means that Minnesota’s younger players need to step up and deliver soon, before Hunter retires.
Also problematic for the Twins was their recent performance against the Kansas City Royals, their competition atop the American League Central. Minnesota dropped all three games against Kansas City this week, getting swept by a combined total of 12 runs to 3. If they want to be legitimate contenders in the American League Central, they will need to do better against baseball’s elite teams.