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What history tells us about the undefeated Orioles and the winless Twins

We've played a week of baseball and we're still waiting for the Orioles to lose and the Twins to win. This is probably a bigger deal than we think.

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

The first week of the baseball season doesn't mean anything. Do you remember last year? The Braves were up. The Dodgers were down. The Tigers were undefeated, only to finish in last place. The Royals were undefeated, only to never stop winning. You can't trust the first week of the baseball season.

The first week of the baseball season means more than you think. The Angels were 2-4 last year, and they sure could have used some of those wins in the last week of the season. Only about four percent of the season is gone, but you know what happens when you eat four percent of a chocolate bar? Your mouth is filled with the taste of chocolate. I don't know what that analogy means, but it makes you think.

Our job today is to look at the undefeated Orioles and ultra-defeated Twins and see if there's something about their starts that will change our minds about them. Have things gone according to expectations? What's unsustainable? Do we still have the time to correct our predictions now, and do we want to correct them?

We'll start with the happy story:

Reevaluating the 6-0 Orioles

Since the beginning of the Expansion Era (1961), there have been 29 teams other than the Orioles to start 6-0. Six of the teams won the World Series. Thirteen of them made the postseason. Perhaps most importantly, 25 of the 29 teams finished .500 or better.

The Orioles weren't necessarily locks to finish .500 or better when the season started. This is encouraging. And if you're thinking that the selection of teams finishing over .500 is a flawed sample because they were given a six-game head start, so of course they have a better chance of finishing over .500 ... well, that's exactly the point. Now the Orioles have that head start.

If we're going to be increasingly optimistic about the Orioles, the first thing to do is make a list of things a contending Orioles team might have.

  • Manny Machado going bonkers and becoming an MVP candidate
  • At least one, preferably two, starting pitchers exceeding expectations
  • Chris Davis swatting dingers
  • Strong bullpen work

And here's what the Orioles have enjoyed so far:

  • Manny Machado going bonkers and becoming an MVP candidate
  • At least one, preferably two, starting pitchers exceeding expectations
  • Chris Davis swatting dingers
  • Strong bullpen work
  • Joey Rickard (sp?) hitting .409, with an average higher than his on-base percentage.
  • Jonathan Schoop becoming the best second baseman in baseball, give or take

Those last two aren't to suggest that all the Orioles have had is good luck. Adam Jones has been dinged up. Pedro Alvarez is 1-for-15 and both Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy are slumping. No, this is to suggest that if you were to write a blueprint for a contending O's team, it would look an awful lot like this.

So maybe it's time to adjust those preseason expectations upward a bit, even if it's been only a week. Too soon? Probably! But I'm going to assume this is the baseball version of The Monty Hall Problem. We picked the Orioles to finish out of the postseason. The host opened the door, and there was a goat. Now we have the option to switch our prediction. The goat shouldn't affect the probability that much, should it?

The goat does affect probability, and he made dozens of Ph.Ds look very silly. Like that goat doesn't know exactly what he's doing.

I'm still not predicting the Orioles to win the AL East just yet, but I'll adjust my expectations of them. They're going to be disruptors. They're going to be hanging around until September and beyond. A week's worth of games can't tell you much, but they can tell you that the odds of a goat went down.

Reevaluating the 0-7 Twins

There have been 38 teams before the 2016 Twins to start a season 0-7. Not one of them made the postseason. The only two of them to finish over .500 were the 1983 Astros and the 1980 Braves. There have been only 16 teams other than the Twins to start 0-7 since the Expansion Era and eight of them lost more than 100 games. Four of them lost more than 110 games.

This got dark quickly.

It would be easier to explain away the lousy week of a team that was practically guaranteed to contend. It's a little trickier for a fringe team like the Twins, who had just enough talent not to bury in the preseason predictions, but more than enough red flags not to get super optimistic. Things needed to go overwhelmingly right for the Twins to surprise baseball, and here we have a week of things going overwhelmingly, repugnantly wrong entered into the record as evidence.

If this is The Monty Hall Problem, it's 162 doors hiding two cars and 160 goats. With seven doors open, we can see one of the cars and six goats. The long odds have already been decimated. There's no sense switching. There's no sense staying. All is lost; all is lost.

Also, I'm sorry for going back to the famous probability brain teaser. I just like thinking about all those goats.

The only thing that gives me pause is that the Twins are losing in the exact opposite fashion as expected. Their problem was supposed to be the pitching, which has been fine. They've allowed 30 runs in seven games, which isn't great, but five of those were unearned. Their adjusted ERA so far is solidly above-average in a small sample.

They're losing because they can't score. If you add up the OPS of Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton and Eddie Rosario, you're still about 300 points shy of Tyler White. The Twins haven't scored as many runs in their seven games as the Dodgers scored in their first game. Of the 11 hitters to take eight at-bats or more, nine of them are below the Mendoza Line.

Those are dreadful facts. They're also, of course, flukish. The one thing the Twins were supposed to do is hit. They hit far better than expected in 2014 and they had a surprising amount of average contributors to the 2015 team, with the promise of youth and linear development giving them a chance to do far better. It hasn't happened yet, but I'm more of a 1.000 OPS hitter than Miguel Sano is a .400 OPS hitter. Things will get better for the Twins' lineup.

But you can have the same idea about the Twins' pitching, too -- that what we thought we knew is what will actually be, and they'll just pass each other going in opposite directions. The seven-game stretch didn't change my mind about what the team's strengths and weaknesses are. It reinforced, though, that the Twins are a team that needs either good luck or positive surprises. The absence of both has made their uphill climb even uphillier.

We've played a week. The Orioles are up. The Twins are down. Both things will probably remain true, and it's okay if you want to go back and futz with your predictions. A week doesn't mean anything? Nah. It means about as much as a week's worth of baseball. And that can mean a surprising amount.

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