Jump to content

Providing independent coverage of the Minnesota Twins.
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

The Forums

Front Page: Twins Game Recap (9/18): Twins’ Offense Absen...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:40 AM
After a 12 inning game and the White Sox using a bullpen game, it looked like the Twins’ offense would have some fun at the plate tonight...
Full topic ›

Front Page: How Many Twins Should Win a Silver Slugger Aw...

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 11:00 PM
The Minnesota Twins have one of the greatest offensive teams ever assembled (put that into sentences that would’ve seemed crazy in March)...
Full topic ›

Game Thread: Twins vs. White Sox, 9/18/19 @ 6:40pm CT

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 10:26 PM
  Good afternoon and welcome back to another exciting game thread! After last nights win I'd prefer this game just go a standard 9...
Full topic ›

Front Page: Mission Accomplished: An Elite Twins Bullpen

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 11:41 PM
As the month of July came to an end, Minnesota Twins fans watched with anticipation hoping that their club was going to make the necessar...
Full topic ›

Front Page: Make Every Night "Obscure Twins Jersey...

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 10:15 PM
Maybe you got carried away with Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Maybe you (okay, me) were a little too excited about Jeff Cirillo. Maybe you bought a...
Full topic ›

Aggressiveness in a New Area for Twins

During 2019 much has been made of the Minnesota Twins aggressive approach at the dish. The lineup is full of sluggers that are ambushing opposing pitchers. With a focus on attacking early and often, they’ve gotten their best hacks in against fastballs and offerings flipped across early in the count. What has been talked about less, is that the pitching staff is pounding the zone and tipping the scales in their favor as well.
Image courtesy of © Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
As of Tuesday, Wes Johnson’s staff is sending first-pitch strikes into the zone at a 62.1% rate. That’s ninth in all of baseball, and fourth in the American League. Right now, the major league average sits at 60.6%, and it’s a far cry from where this team has been previously. A year ago, Minnesota’s first-pitch strike percentage was 58.4% (28th), with preceding years sitting at 60.5% (13th), and 60.0% (16th).

Getting the ball into the zone early doesn’t create a benefit in and of itself, but it allows for an increased opportunity to gain the upper hand. Trailing only the Tampa Bay Rays, Minnesota has given opposing batters fits with 0-2 counts showing up 29.4% of the time. Putting the pitcher in a dominant position nearly one-third of the time, the opportunity to force chase swings or generate less than ideal contact only rises.

Often, good pitchers aren’t giving away at-bats either. In 2018 Minnesota’s staff turned in 91 four-pitch walks. That was the ninth-worst mark in baseball, and certainly did no favors for a group that needed to avoid extra baserunners at all costs. Through their 33 games in 2019 the Twins have allowed just 13 four-pitch walks, fifth lowest in baseball.

Throwing more strikes, and more early strikes also, isn’t going to transform pitchers into strikeout stalwarts. Right now, Baldelli’s group owns the 19th-best strikeout rate in baseball. That says they can't easily put the ball past opposing hitters, and it’s evidence that that’s not the strength of this group. What we should see though, is the results be reflective of lackluster chances for the opposing batters. That has played out.

Batted balls off Twins pitches have resulted in soft contact exactly one-fifth of the time. Exit velocities in the soft contact realm are the easiest to convert into outs, and Minnesota is getting the fourth most chances at them in all of baseball. As would also be expected, the 36.8% hard-hit rate ranks well, checking in at the 10th lowest in the sport. As pitchers get ahead, batters are forced to react as opposed to dictating the action at the plate. Regardless of who’s on the mound, being in a position of control helps to heighten the effectiveness of each offering.

While this isn’t an exercise you may want to undertake before making sure you’ve got the correct ratios down, Minnesota has flipped the script on a long-time mantra for the organization. Pitch to contact is predicated on getting ground ball outs and allowing your fielders to do the work. Right now, the Twins' 39.5% ground ball rate is third lowest in all of baseball. If they were allowing hard hit balls, and getting behind in counts, that would be a recipe for disaster. Instead, this group is giving up the fifth-lowest HR/FB rate because it’s a perfect storm for dominance.

Over the winter, and really since this front office has taken over, the emphasis has been on overhauling processes and putting people in place to drive quality results at the highest level. Most notably this offseason things took shape on the pitching mound, and that’s helped to drive a results that include getting ahead early, throwing strikes often, and generating weak popups that become immediate outs.

In a strikeout-driven league, the Minnesota Twins have a stable of starters that include just one pitcher (Jake Odorizzi) with a current K/9 over 9.0. I’d imagine Jose Berrios will push this total to two by the end of the season, but the reality is that this group isn’t relying on dominance by way of the K. Pitching to their strengths, Johnson has his starters working ahead and dictating the action. When and if the strikeouts do pop up in any given game, it only raises the effectiveness of the blueprint up another notch.

We are at a place where the sample size is not substantial relative to a full season, but ignoring the current merits would be a foolish proposition as well. Minnesota is challenging opposing batters, forcing their hand, and benefiting from it. The plan is working right now, and there’s no sign of an impending slow down.

  • brvama, h2oface, mikelink45 and 7 others like this

  • Share:
  • submit to reddit
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

6 Comments

Photo
diehardtwinsfan
May 07 2019 08:11 PM

yeah, there's got to be somethign to those numbers. Lower GB rates, yet at the same time Lower HR rates...Might still be SSS, but I have to think someone figured something out... If not, I hate to say it, but those will come back to haunt us. 

    • Sconnie and Platoon like this

 

yeah, there's got to be somethign to those numbers. Lower GB rates, yet at the same time Lower HR rates...Might still be SSS, but I have to think someone figured something out... If not, I hate to say it, but those will come back to haunt us. 

 

The Twins are at 11.6% HR/FB.The accepted regression point is at 10% or so.This means that the Twins are allowing more home runs per flying ball than that golden average.

 

The problem is that they are 26th in the league.Baltimore leads with 19.2%.The weather has been funky and might be an issue, but there are way more HRs hit per flying ball already than in an average season.

    • Sconnie likes this

58 to 62%. That's 4 more first pitches in 100. Doesn't seem very signigicant to me. But 58.4 is 28th, and 62.1 is 9thwith 60.6 being league average. I guess those 4 pitches mean a lot. Doesn't seem like it would or should, though. 

    • Sconnie likes this
I keep getting confused. Those of us in the back of the room have been wondering for a long time what working the count does for a hitter? One passes on a dead red FB, to swing at a 2-2 slider off the plate?

"In every AB you are going to get one pitch to hit, you better hit it" has been around for a long time. There's a reason for that. There's also a reason for pitchers wanting to get ahead in the count, hitters averages drop dramatically late in a negative count.

Pitchers and hitters work at diametric opposites. What's good for one is bad for the other. And both adjust to realities. If Twins hitters continue to "ambush" early fastballs they will likely get the Dozier treatment. Early off speed stuff in the zone. It's a constant battle.

As for the GB rate? That's pretty hard to maintain in this HR, SO, high pitches in the zone style of play we see today. The constant shifts and emphasis on launch angles somewhat precludes the ground ball.
    • KGB and Dave The Dastardly like this

 

I keep getting confused. Those of us in the back of the room have been wondering for a long time what working the count does for a hitter? One passes on a dead red FB, to swing at a 2-2 slider off the plate?
 

"In every AB you are going to get one pitch to hit, you better hit it" has been around for a long time. There's a reason for that.

 

This was always a criticism of Joe Mauer that I had. He had the same approach every at-bat, didn't matter the situation. You often saw him take that one pitch you're talking about.

 

I batted leadoff a lot in my playing days. Always wanted to see pitches from a pitcher in my first at-bat (unless I knew him well already), figure out what he could throw, try to see more than a fastball.

 

But any further at-bats against that pitcher? I'm ambushing the pitch I recognize in the zone unless there's a different reason not to (like he's been struggling).

 

Walks are good, but hits are way better. I feel that idea has been lost some in today's game.

    • USAFChief, KGB and Platoon like this

Here is my few cents worth...on the hitting side of the fence the I believe the staff is telling the hitters 'if that 1st pitch is THE pitch for you SWING"....beyond that continue to work the count and believe in yourself to be a good 2 strike hitter...to other people's point that is one area Mauer excelled in (2 strike hitting)...not very often (without any exact stats) to back it up did it seem our hitters in recent memory took that swing early approach...again not exact stats to back it up but it the games have the feel to them that our favorite 9 is swinging early if the pitch is in the happy zone...no one seems to be panicking if they are down 0-1,0-2 or 1-2...on the other side if they are up in the count they aren't swinging just to swing...they are working the count and are also making the pitcher bring a pitch in the zone they are most comfortable with.Rambling over...WIN TWINS


Similar Articles


by AJ Condon , Yesterday, 08:58 PM
Photo


by Andrew Thares , 17 Sep 2019
Photo


by Ted Schwerzler , 16 Sep 2019
Photo


by Nate Palmer , 16 Sep 2019
Photo


by Cody Christie , 16 Sep 2019
Photo