Twins' bullpen saving the day

While the Twins' starters are struggling, all of their relievers except one have ERAs under 3.10.

Updated: May 23, 2003, 10:51 AM ET
By Jim Baker
It's been 25 years since Bill James became the first person to exhaustively study the difference between the ERAs of starters and relievers. His findings then continue to hold true today: A reliever has an inherent advantage in posting a better ERA as compared to a starter. Why is this? Because, many times, they enter in the middle of an inning in which one or two outs have already been recorded. It stands to reason that the shorter an inning is, the less likely a team is to score. (A game played with one-out innings would be a much lower scoring affair than one played with three.)

In the American League this year, that difference is about four-tenths of a run per nine inning, a fairly significant amount considering the sample size involved. For some teams, though, that difference is far greater. One of them is the topic of Jim Souhan's piece in today's Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Souhan spotlights the pen of the Minnesota Twins, the team with the best relief ERA in the League in 2003 and, at 1.93, the third-largest differential between that of their starters and their relievers.

While only one Twins starter -- Kyle Lohse -- has posted an ERA under 4.50, all their relievers -- save for Tony Fiore -- have ERAs under 3.10. Souhan details the trials and errors that led this group to this juncture in their careers. Like most relievers, Latroy Hawkins, Eddie Guardado, J.C. Romero and Johan Santana have taken the circle route to find themselves where they are today.
Jim Baker is an author at Baseball Prospectus and a frequent contributor to Page 2. You can e-mail Jim at