Wednesday, October 7, 2009

D Vs. G

About 4 1/2 seconds after the Twins defeated the Tigers (in a amazing, thrilling game, btw), every sportswriter in America decided that his next column on the upcoming series between the Twins and Yankees should be called David Vs. Goliath.

And with some credence. The Yankees are the big-market team with all the money (though that often doesn't count for much—ask the Cubs). The shiny new stadium, the shiny new pitching staff, and the big-ticket hitters. The Twins on the other hand are the 24th-out-of-30 in spending, small market team. Scrappy. Plucky. Can-do.

However, in a short series, the big names, the big pitchers, the big money, might not mean anything. Sure the Yankees are the favorite. And they should be. However, one thing might count heavily in favor for the Twins heading into a short series.

Momentum.

In a short series, a dangerous team is the one carrying the momentum into the series. Again, this is not to say that the Twins will defeat the Yankees. This is just to say that the Twins, without Justin Morneau, have already caught, and defeated, a better team on paper in the Tigers. And they believe, really believe that they have a great shot against the Yankees.

Were the 2007 Colorado Rockies really the best team in the National League? They had a middle of the road 97 OPS+ and a ok 4.67 ERA. On the whole, they were a decent team, but certainly not great.

What they did have was momentum—they won 11 games in a row in September—and came from 8 games back to make the playoffs on the last day of the year; which, like the Twins, was a one-game playoff series they won against the Padres. In extra innings. Sound familiar?

The Rockies then went on to sweep the Phillies, then sweep the Diamondbacks before losing to the Red Sox in the World Series. Point is; were the Rockies the best team in the National League—probably not. Were they the hottest team—mos definitely.

The Twins are batting .309 in the last 7 days—about 30 points higher than their season average—and getting higher. The Twins are also pitching a full run lower on their team ERA in the last 7 days. Batters in the month of September are batting .265 or about 10 points lower than they have the rest of the year against Twin pitching. The Twins have gone 21-11 in the month of September and Ocotber.

And they've done this without their best player, Justin Morneau.

If feet are put to the fire, I would choose the Yankees over the Twins. Simply put, on paper they are the better team. However, if the Twins were to give them a very tough, scary series—or even pull an upset—I would not be shocked.

Surprised, maybe. But not shocked.

David did win after all that one time.

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