If you’re still scratching your head trying to figure out how the Twins are 28-18 after a 1-6 start and four consecutive 92-loss seasons, here are a couple of charts that explain the “what,” if not the “why.”
First off, the Twins through 46 games have done a great job jumping on teams early. It’s not sure your imagination: in 16 of 46 games this season, the Twins have had a lead after the first inning. That’s more than one-third of the games, a staggering number. By comparison, I looked at 2015 to date and four other seasons in Twins history — 2012 (a 96-loss season), 2010 and 2006 (a pair of division-winning seasons) and 1991 (the team’s last World Series title) — to see how they compare. Scoring early is definitely a dominant trait of the 2015 Twins so far:
But the Twins haven’t just scored early — they’ve built onto or at least held onto those leads very well. To illustrate that, I charted the number of innings per game the Twins have had the lead this year and those other four seasons. The results again show how the 2015 Twins have had the lead a lot — even more than in their best seasons of the past 25 years:
Interestingly enough, as good as the Twins have been at getting a first-inning lead, they’ve been even more prolific at scoring in the second and third innings. They have 25 runs this year in the first (meaning that a lot of those 16 early leads have been one-run leads), while they’ve scored 37 runs in the second and 41 in the third. Add it up and they’ve scored 103 runs in the first three innings — almost as many as the 105 total they’ve scored in innings 4-9. Playing with a lead breeds confidence and gives starting pitchers room to breathe. The results have added up to a great start to the 2015 season.
Teddy Bridgewater made it halfway through an answer about the new guy, Mike Wallace, before interrupting himself to offer praise to Kyle Rudolph.
“I’ll tell you, what’s even a better addition is have Kyle Rudolph back healthy,” Bridgewater said. “He’s like a whole new player on the team.”
To be fair, that is typical Teddy. He often steers the conversation toward other teammates, like when he randomly remarked after a game last season that Vlad Ducasse was one of the faces of the franchise. But Bridgewater’s point remains: The Vikings are pumped to add Rudolph back into the mix.
They expected big things from Rudolph last season, and the lucrative contract extension they gave him during training camp was proof of that.
But three games and 10 catches into the 2014 season, Rudolph needed to have sports hernia surgery. He missed seven games. And just when he was starting to look like himself again, Rudolph injured his ankle and knee.
All in all, Rudolph played nine games, catching 24 passes for 231 yards and two touchdowns. It was his second straight season derailed by injuries.
Rudolph is determined to play all 16 games this season, and earlier this offseason he talked about how excited he is to click with Bridgewater.
“You see what my position is capable of in this offense,” Rudolph said. “I’ve proven that throughout the course of a 16-game season, when I’m out there every week, I’m one of the best players at my position.”
If the Vikings didn’t feel the same, they wouldn’t be paying him big bucks.
It is waaaaaay too early for media folks like me to draw conclusions. Today is the team’s third OTA of the offseason, and we have been allowed to watch one of them. But yesterday, when we were present, Bridgewater and Rudolph displayed some chemistry, with Bridgewater finding Rudolph in the middle when the defense was focused on Wallace or Charles Johnson.
We will see if that continues — and if Rudolph can reach his goal of playing in 16 games. But one can see why Bridgewater is excited to have him back.
Adrian Peterson has spoken.
Well, technically the disgruntled Vikings running back released a statement to ESPN’s Josina Anderson. But hey, at least it is something.
Peterson, the only Vikings player not in attendance at today’s OTA, hasn’t commented publicly on his situation in months. But he broke his silence today after head coach Mike Zimmer made it clear that if Peterson wants to play in the NFL this season, it will have to be with the Vikings.
In the brief statement — which he ended with “Go Vikings” — Peterson said he does not want to be traded. He said his absence from OTAs has to do with “securing my future with the Vikings.”
With no guaranteed money in Peterson’s contract beyond this season, it’s not hard to read between the lines there.
Anyway, here’s the full statement that Peterson released to ESPN:
“The reason I’m not attending OTAs has nothing to do with wanting to be traded. It’s about securing my future with the Vikings. It’s business, not personal and I understand that firsthand. Go Vikings.”