It’s safe to say that the Minnesota Twins faithful have grown accustomed to the frustration that has surrounded the franchise since opening day of the 2011 season. Whether it was Joe Mauer’s bilateral leg weakness, Justin Morneau’s never ending concussion symptoms or the entire starting rotations lackluster beginning to the 2012 season, there has always been something for the fan base to shake their heads at.
As of this moment there is an abundance of frustration inducing examples littered across the entire organization. Brian Dozier’s defensive regression and Nick Blackburn’s lack of a sinker are just two of the most recent examples that come to mind. Although they are maddening in their own unique way they pale in comparison to a Twin’s prospect that has consistently lulled everyone into a false sense of hopefulness only to yank us back into hair pulling madness in the matter of five major league innings. Of course I am talking about the one, the only, Liam Hendriks.
Few pitchers have dominated AAA ball this season quite like Liam Hendriks. As of July 11th his ERA sat at an impressive 1.69 while he held opposing hitter’s to a mere .180 average. As if his statistics weren’t impressive enough he also had the look of a major league pitcher. There was an aura of confidence that surrounded him anytime he stepped onto the mound for the Red Wings. A fan from another organization would take one look at him and wonder why on earth he was still pitching in AAA when the Twins are desperate for arms. Well, all it would take is a quick glance at Hendriks 2012 major league stats to kill that curiosity.
Here are just a few telling statistics from Hendriks eight games with the Minnesota Twins in 2012:
.339 Opponents BA
60.0 LOB %
Of course the stats only tell a fraction of the story. In order to truly grasp the ineffectiveness of Hendriks you would need to go back and watch one of his eight starts. The impeccable control that he demonstrated in Rochester was nowhere to be seen. His composure was completely shot. He looked over matched, out of his league. He looked like a AAA pitcher.
In a way his struggles are understandable. At 23 years old the Aussie is still learning and developing his game. Just as recently as 2011 he was still pitching in AA. But despite his age and lack of experience there is still a massive amount of frustration surrounding his 2012 season.
A lot of the frustration surrounding Hendriks isn’t necessarily due to his ineffectiveness at the major league level; it’s the fact that he has the ability to succeed; he just fails to harness that ability. It would be forgivable if Hendriks just lacked the necessary skill set to be an effective major league pitcher. Of course it would sting considering the amount of resources that are used on any given prospect, but it’s forgivable. In Hendriks case we have witnessed his particular skill set and it is impressive. We know what he is capable of which is why it’s so maddening to see him struggle mightily against big league hitters.
It’s not that the Twins fan base has unrealistic expectations for the 23 year old Aussie. There isn’t a single person who expects him to become the ace of the staff or even a #2 starter. The only thing that we ask is that he is effective. There aren’t any numbers attached to that expectation. We don’t expect a certain amount of wins or an ERA below 3. The only thing that is being asked is that Hendriks gives the Twins a chance to win.
Hopefully the next time Hendriks gets the call he can alleviate the frustration rather than compound it. The Twins fans have enough things to be frustrated with these days.