J.O. Berríos is the unquestioned ace of the Minnesota Twins starting staff, and the most common bet among fans to flirt with an All-Star game – or even a Cy Young award if you’re one of the ones that allows yourself to dream.
And he’s the first feature of this new recurring column at SKOR North – but the stat about him actually says more about his teammates…
1. J.O. Berríos strikeout rate: 27.6%
Berríos is currently third on the starting staff in strikeout rate.
Third out of four, that is.
But that strikeout rate is solid, and would be the highest mark of his young career. So this stat is not meant to denigrate Minnesota’s brightest young arm, just to point out the fun you can have with early-season numbers.
Jake Odorizzi (he of the short start in Philly) currently leads the staff with a 32.6% strikeout rate; Michael Piñeda is next at 31.3%.
We should point out that Berríos nearly doubles the innings load of next busiest start at this point of the season. He accounts for more than 40% of the total innings by the starting staff if you exclude Martin Pérez’s bullpen innings in the early goings. So if you have a great first start (like Odorizzi) and then leave in the first inning of another game (like Odorizzi) it will have a significant impact on a stat like strikeout rate at the early point of the season. Look for Berríos to overtake the lead at some point this year. But as of Friday’s snow-out at Target Field he sits in third place among four Twins starters. Fun with numbers!
2. Runs per game: 5.50
The Twins bats are off to a blistering start. If it wasn’t for the world-beating Seattle Mariners (13-2), the Twins would hold the top spot in the American League as an offense. Minnesota is second in runs per game (5.50) in the A.L.; the Twins are second in the league in total bases per game (16.8). One offensive explosion can influence numbers like this so early in the season, so expect both figures to level off at some point.
But maybe we’ll see them hold a place near the top of the league. After all, they’re clubbing 1.4 home runs per game, which is 4th in the league.
3. Team wOBA: .349
The Twins are fourth in the A.L. as of this writing in Weighted On-Base Average as a team. What I take that to mean is that they aren’t just lucking their way into scoring runs right now. For those that don’t regularly use the stat, wOBA is a measure of offensive output that gives more credit for on-base percentage than slugging percentage, since OBP is more closely associated with scoring runs. It’s important to slug. If you want to score runs, it’s more important to get on base, and wOBA tries to account for that.
The teams in front of the Twins right now are the Mariners (duh) and the Yankees and Astros.
The best offense in baseball last year, the Boston Red Sox, finished with a .340 wOBA. And then they coasted to a World Series title. So I’m not going to project whether or not this hot start will consider for the Twins. That would be a pessimistic take. Here’s a more optimistic one.
If this offensive pace does continue for the Twins hitters: look out, world!
4. Bullpen walk rate: 12.5%
Last in the American League, you might have guessed. Now, keep in mind, this one could be skewed by an ugly night in New York against the Mets. Odorizzi was cruising along and then all of a sudden he wasn’t.
New guy Andrew Vasquez couldn’t find the plate; and ditto for not-so-new guy Trevor Hildenberger. This skews stats early on because we’ve just reached roughly 6% of the total hitters faced during a full season. It’s early, in other words.
5. League-wide strikeout rate: up. Walk rate: up. Home runs per game: up.
This might not shock you if you’ve followed closely for the past few seasons.
So just to put the Twins’ numbers into a little bit of league-wide context:
Yes, it’s early. Small sample size, cold weather and all that. Just don’t be too shocked if this trend sticks around for a while.