1. Playing .500 baseball early can give this team some confidence.
It is early, but I think there are a number of things that the Twins can be encouraged about. No. 1, it seems as though things have gotten off to a pretty good start offensively, which, considering the fact that they were hoping to pitch better and try to score a few runs, all of a sudden they're scoring six, seven runs a game through the first part of the season. It's a pleasant surprise. We all know that there are going to be times over the course of the year that the hitters are going to have to figure out a way to pick up the pitching staff once in a while. The same thing's going to happen later on where the pitching's going to have to find a way to pick up the hitters, because I don't think it's going to go like this all season long. But offensively, it's been a bit of a bright spot. I think it's helped give them some confidence that maybe they can sustain this for a while.
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY SportsJesse Johnson
2. Brian Dozier's home runs have been nice, but he needs to hit for average, too.
It's nice to see Brian Dozier put up power numbers, but he wants as much as anybody to get his average up. It's nice to have a guy that can go up to the plate and hit the ball out of the park. The danger is having that guy in the leadoff position. He only leads off one time a game, but he still has to find a way to use the whole field. The comparison is a guy like Trevor Plouffe, who was pumping the ball out of the park a couple years ago. Now Trevor's using the whole field. Certainly, Dozier, to get his average up to where it needs to be in order to be a more complete hitter, has to use the whole field and shoot the ball the other way. Hitting's cyclical -- you can hit those hangers out of the park, but when they start pitching you down and away or finding the holes in your swing, you have to take that outside pitch and go the other way and stay on the ball. Dozier's not a power hitter. Dozier's a good hitter that has the ability to hit the ball out of the park.
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY SportsBrad Rempel
3. Minnesota's patience at the plate has been impressive.
It shows an increase in maturity and the ability to take the walk and trust that the next guy is going to do their job. What it says is the guys going up to the plate are not trying to do too much. They're not trying to be Superman, as Tom Kelly used to say. Get a pitch that you can handle and hit the ball hard some place. If you don't get a pitch and you take a walk, you drop the bat and you walk down to first base and you trust that the next guy is going to continue to do the same thing. That is, to get a good pitch and hit the ball hard some place and move guys around the bases. Lo and behold, you've got guys on base and put some pressure on the defense. That's how it's worked up and down the batting order.
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY SportsJesse Johnson
4. Mike Pelfrey needs to regain his confidence.
I don't think there's a whole heck of a lot that Mike Pelfrey needs to correct. He's had stretches where he pitched some really, really good baseball. And then it all kind of falls apart on him. It would be one thing if he went out there and was working really slow and was nibbling and his pitch count was high real early. He's had outings where his pitch count was relatively low through the fifth inning, and that tells me that he's challenging, that he's got his hand on top of the baseball, and he's driving the ball down in the strike zone. He's going to give up some hard-hit balls every once in a while. But as soon as somebody hits one hard, you don't start slowing down your rhythm. You keep attacking, you keep your confidence up and you trust that you have the ability to be a major-league pitcher. He's had stretches of pitching some very effective baseball to some pretty tough lineups. He just needs to find a way to extend that kind of consistency deeper into the ballgame.
David Richard-USA TODAY SportsDavid Richard
5. Kyle Gibson is setting the tone for the starting rotation.
He's doing the little things right, throwing the ball low and over the plate with something on it. He's doing that with all of his pitches. He's got his hand on top of the baseball, using the pitching rubber with more leverage and driving towards the plate. He's allowing his natural movement to take over and pitching with a lot of confidence. His demeanor is completely different than it was last year: very focused, very competitive, all business. Boy, if you can't appreciate that, I don't know if you can appreciate anything. It certainly has been a pleasure to watch him pitch. The other thing is that he's setting the tone a little bit, and I think some of the other veteran pitchers are like, 'The kid's doing this. Let's go.' The other four guys are standing there watching him, thinking, 'We're not going to let this kid show us up.' There's a competition that gets created between those five guys that, 'When it's my turn to take the ball, let's go.'