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Series Preview: Texas Rangers @ Minnesota Twins - On The Road Again

Kent Hrbek reenacts the time he ruined the World Series with a mascot bear playing the role of Ron Gant
Kent Hrbek reenacts the time he ruined the World Series with a mascot bear playing the role of Ron Gant

And so the Rangers head back out for the 10 game leg of this zany 20 game stretch. And while they'll face a tough challenge against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium and an Interleague match-up against a hot and contending Atlanta Braves team with the constraints of National League rules before they make their way back home, at least the Rangers get to open this 10 games in 11 days trip in Minnesota. Not that I'm implying that this means easy wins for our Rangers—they've never actually won at Target Field and rarely seemed to win at the Baggy Dome, either—but Minnesota just seems so quaint. 

In fact, in terms of general stereotypes of an area's people, Minnesota seems like something of a Midwest Texas. Friendly, prideful, wholesome, likes fried foods; these are descriptors given to both Minnesotans and Texans alike. They've got ice fishing, Texas has bass fishing. They've got a bunch of lakes, Texas has (some of) the Red River. They've got moose hunting, Texas has Daryl "Moose" Johnston. They have the bravely defended Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, Texas has the Alamo. Why, it's a barbecue away from being a home away from home.

And best yet, Target Field has been more like a staying-at-your-in-law's home instead of home for the Minnesota Twins. The Twins are 6-15 this season at their second-year baseball park. And while, again, the Rangers have never won there, having gone 0-6 last season, they have never had the opportunity to play the Twins at Target Field while the Twins were playing as poorly as they have this season.

So, frankly, it's time to accept all of those gee golly and you betcha kindnesses from Minnesota and turn that compassion for a similar sibling into baseball wins. If Minnesota and Texas were brothers cast in opposite directions, one of them has to be the goatee-growing, side-eye giving, doppelgänging evil twin. I'm okay with it being Texas.

Thursday, June 9 7:10: LHP Derek Holland vs. RHP Regular size Nick Blackburn

Friday, June 10 7:10: LHP C.J. Wilson vs. LHP Brian Duensing

Saturday, June 11 3:10: RHP Colby Lewis vs. RHP Scott Baker

Sunday, June 12 1:10: LHP Matt Harrison vs. LHP Francisco Liriano

You probably already knew the Twins were bad judging by their worst record in all of baseball, but did you know how the 94-win Twins of last season got so bad? Well, Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer, the backbone of the Twins for the last half decade, have a combined -0.3 WAR this season. That's bad. Though, Mauer has missed all but nine games this season and Morneau is still recovering from the concussion that cost him almost a year of playing time. But both of those things are also very, very bad.

Also bad is the fact that Denard Span's 2.8 WAR is 1.7 wins better than the second best player on the entire team (Carl Pavano and Jason Kubel's 1.1 WAR are tied for second best). That's really bad. Their best pitcher, judging by peripherals, has probably been Brian Duensing. That's already bad. But his 4.00 xFIP is only marginally better than the Twins pitching WAR leader Pavano's 4.36. And, bad for the Twins, Pavano doesn't start in this series. But maybe worst of the bad is someone named Brian Dinkelman, and his lone hit in eight plate appearances for a 0.0 WAR, has contributed more to the team than even Delmon Young and his -0.1 WAR. Yuck.

A lot has to go wrong for a 94 win team the previous year to be on pace for about 70 wins the next year. And, really, everything is going wrong for the Twins. They're not healthy, they're not hitting, and basically only Span is having a comparable year to last season for those who have been able to stay on the field. 

I'm pretty sure it's just karma for Kent Hrbek, anyway.


Minnesota Twins (23-38, 5th Place AL Central)

Rangers 2011 Record vs. Minnesota: Conjectural

Minnesota's Recent Results: 2-1 Series win against the Cleveland Indians

Minnesota's Home Record: 6-15

Target Field Park Factors (LHB/RHB): HR: 96/96 - wOBA: 100/100

SB Nation Twins Blog: Twinkie Town

Match-up: (as of 6/08)        Rangers  Twins Advantage
35.0 22.4 Rangers
Overall RAR + UZR 70.5 -22.4 Rangers!

Questions to Answer:

  • If you had to have guessed the fifth best Twins position player by WAR so far this season, how many guesses would it have taken you to get to Luke Hughes and his fifth best 0.3 WAR?
  • Who is your pick to lead the Rangers in OBP and which Rangers pitcher will throw the most innings in this series? (I'll say Mitch Moreland and C.J. Wilson.)
  • Over/Under: .5 home runs hit by the Rangers at Target Field in this series?
  • Will we be lucky enough to see these dudes Dudebros_mediumagain at Target Field?
  • Walleye on a spike, hotdish, lefse, or cheese curds?