August 2009

O-Cab Carries Leadership

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Orlando Cabrera arrived in Minneapolis last Saturday after the Minnesota Twins made a deadline deal in an attempt to help shore up their middle infield and add production from the second spot in the lineup. Since his arrival Cabrera has without a doubt been a productive player. The veteran shortstop has went 10-20 at the plate in five games to give him a .500 batting average since his arrival, and he’s made several professional plays in the field.
The offense and defense are two things the team knew they had the chance of receiving when Cabrera was acquired, but there is one other thing that Cabrera carries – leadership. From the first time Cabrera stepped foot on the Metrodome turf, it was easy to tell the type of person he was away from the batter’s box.
After Cabrera grounded out to second base in his first at-bat as a Twin, he went to the dugout and let everybody know what the pitcher was trying to do. The next time up, Cabrera took a nearly identical pitch down the right field line for a double.
Veteran leadership is one quality that Cabrera carries, so too is his mentorship. From his first inning as a Twin through his 45th, Cabrera has been seen time and time again sitting and talking with youngster Carlos Gomez. The mentorship has paid off.
Gomez has gone 4-15 in four games since Cabrera’s arrival to give him a .267 average in the near-handful of games. The 23-year old speedster has shown more confidence, hit pitches he didn’t earlier in the season, and continued to make strong plays in centerfield.
If the Twins are playing meaningful baseball come October, Cabrera could be a key factor. His leadership and ability to communicate with young players such as Gomez however could have an impact on the many seasons ahead.

Tracking the Attendance

While most of the league has seen a decline in attendance this season, the Minnesota Twins have been one of few teams who have remained unscathed. In fact, the Twins have seen an increase in attendance from last season.

Thus far, the Twins have played a total of 54 home games and have an average attendance of 29,212 fans. Last season through 54 games at the Metrodome, the team was averaging 25,841 fans. The difference of 3,371 fans per game is quite spectacular with the economy and the downfall in attendance in most other markets.
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In the last 20 home games, the Twins have drawn at least 30,000 fans to 17 of them. The three games that have not drawn 30,000 fans have drawn over 27,000 once and over 29,500 twice. In that span, there have been four 40,000-plus games and two others have been within 1,000 fans of the mark.
Overall this season the Twins have drawn 1,577,429 fans compared to a total of 1,395,409 fans to the same point in 2008. The difference is over 180,000 fans and the team still has 27 games to widen the gap.
The league average for attendance is currently on pace to be just above 2,400,000 fans at season’s end. To reach that mark, the Twins will need to draw about 30,000 fans per game over the next two months. If the team remains in the division race, that is more than doable; last season the team finished with just over 2,300,000 total fans.
Attendance Analysis will become a series updated at various points the rest of this season and in the future.

It Begins Now

Literally the season starts in April, but figuratively, for the Twins at least, their trip through Cleveland and Detroit marks the beginning of the ‘real season’. For the first four months of the year, the Twins have managed to play .500 ball and stick within two games of the lead in the American League Central; now the team will focus on divisional opponents for the final two months in an attempt to play meaningful games in October.

In the first half of the season, the Twins played only 29 of their total 72 divisional games. The second half schedule consists of 43 divisional games, and beginning with the team’s stop in Cleveland, 40 of 58 remaining games will be played in the Midwest against the Central.
The first half of the season wasn’t easy for the Twins as they played one of the top five toughest schedules in baseball. They completed all scheduled games with the Yankees and Red Sox while their foes, Chicago and Detroit, did not.
The second half of the season is statistically easier, and with Cleveland’s recent fire sale, things could be easier than what other teams will face in August and September. No team will roll over however, and many players are out to prove they belong – thus the team will need to play well despite an easier opponents winning percentage.
Up to the start of a week long road trip, the remaining schedules for Detroit, Chicago and Minnesota are as follows:
Detroit:
Minnesota – 10
Kansas City – 9
Tampa Bay – 7
Cleveland – 6
Chicago – 6
Boston – 4
Toronto – 4
Baltimore – 3
Seattle – 3
Oakland – 3
Los Angeles – 3
Chicago:
Boston – 8
Minnesota – 6
Los Angeles – 6
Seattle – 6
Kansas City – 6
Detroit – 6
Cleveland – 6
Oakland – 5
Baltimore – 3
New York – 3
Cubs – 1
Minnesota:
Cleveland – 12
Kansas City – 12
Detroit – 10
Chicago – 6
Texas – 7
Toronto – 4
Baltimore- 3
Oakland – 3
While the Tigers and White Sox each have 11 remaining games against the American League East powers (Boston, New York, Tampa Bay), the Twins have completed that portion of the schedule. That section alone could help the Twins as the Tigers have a .385 winningpercentageagainstthe East this season.
The Twins have positioned themselves well for the final two months, and consistency against their own division in the next eight weeks could help the Twins to a division title. Nothing will be given to them however, and while the Indians and Royals havestruggledand take up nearly half of the remaining schedule, the Twins must be prepared for a new season, one that starts now.