Avoiding The Shutout: Three Months In, Three Teams Stand Alone

To date, there are only three teams in Major League Baseball that have scored at least one run in every single game. The lucky teams still waiting to be handed their first shutout are the Washington Nationals, New York Yankees and the Minnesota Twins.

All three squads are having very strong seasons, which should come as no surprise given the nature of their accomplishment, but one of these teams surely seems to be more of an outlier than the others.

Regardless, none of the three will successfully complete our MLB 13-Run Contest until their respective offenses take a day off and hang a goose egg on the board in the runs column.

The one team that seems out of place in this list is Minnesota. Heading into the weekend, the Twins ranked No. 22 in baseball in runs scored at 260—63 behind the Yankees and 69 behind the Nationals.

Washington and New York rank No. 2 and No. 4 in runs scored, respectively. While the Twinkies’ offense hasn’t been a powerhouse like the Nationals or Yankees, one thing they have been is consistent.

Byron Buxton is really the weak link with his .199 average and .550 OPS, but he’s come around some of late after a terrible start. Aside from him, the rest of the order is pretty reliable.

Miguel Sano coming around has been a huge part of Minnesota’s big turnaround. He was a disappointment last year but has anchored the order in 2017. He’s providing power, which we all expected, but he is also hitting .301. Adding in his 15 bombs, nine doubles and three triples, along with his .405 OPS, and you have a player with an OPS+ of 168 and rWAR of 2.2, dependent entirely on the bat.

Robbie Grossman has been very good for the Twins, too. He’s getting on base at a .413 clip. Between him and Sano on base so frequently, the rest of the team has plenty of opportunities to drive them in. Max Kepler, Joe Mauer and Brian Dozier all have very good OBPs, too. When you get on base consistently and give your team plenty of chances to drive you in, they’re bound to put runs on the board.

As for the Nationals, you need to look no further than the heart of the order to see why they’re scoring so many runs and have been impossible to shut out. Try going through Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Daniel Murphy and Anthony Rendon four times per game and not allowing a few runs.

While Trea Turner is just barely getting on base at a .300 clip, Adam Eaton is shelved and Jayson Werth is now on the DL, that heart of the order is impossible. Harper is back to his MVP form, hitting .323 with 15 homers. Zimmerman is hitting .365 with 17 bombs. And both are also slamming doubles and drawing walks, as each have an OPS over 1.000 with Harper at 1.057 and Zimmerman at 1.105.

As if getting through those two wasn’t hard enough, Murphy is batting .339 with 10 bombs, while Rendon has 11 homers and a .924 OPS. Compared to the other three, he’s a slouch with a .292 average.

So from good on-base skills and plenty of opportunities in Minnesota to a killer heart of the order in Washington, each team has used something special to extend a string of shutout-free games this long.

For the Yankees, that something special is Aaron Judge.

Judge has been a beast. He’s still hitting well over .300, at .323, something few thought could last this deep into the season given his swing-and-miss rate. Nevertheless, it has. His power has also been amazing and has helped others in the order get better pitches to hit due to fear of him.

And Judge has not been the only positive story for the Yanks, with the exception of third base, where Chase Headley is struggling. However, Aaron Hicks has turned into a great everyday option in the outfield, Starlin Castro is hitting .319 and Matt Holliday has been everything you want from a veteran middle-of-the-order bat, and more.

If you are looking for one of these three teams to complete the MLB 13-Run Contest, which includes finally getting shut out, the Twins may be the best bet. They don’t have the upside for a blowout win as the other two teams, but seem the most due for a shutout. Unlike Washington and New York, there are holes in that lineup.

Surprisingly, Minnesota is the team with the longest streak since its last shutout. The last time the Twins were blanked was September 16, 2016. The other two teams were blanked in September, too. September baseball with its expanded rosters can lead to some funny stuff. The Yankees were last blanked on September 24, while the Nationals were shut out on September 28.

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