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The Perfect Length of a Baseball Season?

Other Baseball Today, 07:14 AM
So Twitter got me thinking... What's the perfect length of baseball season? And then what's the perfect playoffs to be paired with that s...
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Game Thread: Twins vs Reds 6:10pm cdt 9/26/2020 ad

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 11:47 PM
You know, that C the Reds use as their logo looks strangely familiar... I confess, amongst the t-shirts i remember wearing as a kid was b...
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A (pretty accurate) look at the seedings

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 09:18 PM
Going into the final weekend of the season, the eight-team AL field is nearly set, though no team is locked into its seed. Here's what I...
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2020 Twins Transactions

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 04:58 PM
There haven't been many yet, but I'll start this today...   The Twins just announced that Zack Littell (hamstring) has been placed o...
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Playoff tiebreaks

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 11:37 AM
With three teams fighting for the division title, it seems quite possible there will be a tie for the division winner this year in the AL...
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Recent Blogs

Could Martin Perez Be 2019's Anibal Sanchez?

Last season, the Twins signed then 34-year-old starting pitcher Aníbal Sánchez to a one-year contract, a move that confused most of their fans. Afterall, the Venezuelan righty had pitched poorly in the three previous seasons and, in spite of his great track record, few people envisioned the bounce back he would ultimately achieve with Atlanta. This year, the Twins have made a very similar move by signing fellow Venezuelan Martín Pérez. It is possible that regret has led them to go after the one that got away?
Image courtesy of © Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Let’s back up a little. Minnesota agreed to a one-year contract with Sánchez on Feb. 16 of last year, worth $2.5 million, with $500,000 guaranteed. Back then, that deal was a thinker. Why were the Twins chasing after a pitcher who appeared to be way past his prime? They weren’t getting the Cy Young candidate version of Sanchez who once led the AL in ERA and FIP (2.57 ERA and 2.39 FIP in 2013). They were getting a pitcher who had had an ERA of 5.67 in the three previous seasons combined and saw the velocity of his primary pitch, the Four Seamer, drop from 92.4 mph to 90.7 in the same span.

The main explanation given at the time was the coaching staff and Sánchez were willing to reinvent his pitch selection and make adjustments to his mechanics, as stated by the player himself in this Rhett Bollinger report last year. The club believed if he relied more on his varied offerings, he would miss more bats. And that made a lot of sense.

Even during 2017, perhaps his worst season, Sánchez's most effective pitches were extremely underused. His cutter, which struck out batters 33.3% of time and had a .235 BA, was used only 7.3% of time. During that same season, his sinker was used 23.4% of the time despite that pitch having a .311 batting average against and giving up a leading nine home runs.

His first impression couldn’t have been better. Sánchez's first outing with the Twins came Feb. 27 against the Red Sox. He pitched two perfect innings and struck out one batter. Four days later disaster struck, as he gave up six earned runs on five hits, in two innings of work against the Pirates. Nothing out of the ordinary, especially because we’re talking about spring training. There would have been plenty of time to figure things out. But plans changed.

On March 10, the Twins announced the signing of Lance Lynn to a one-year, $12 million contract. Two days later, Sánchez was released by Minnesota and four days after that, signed a minor league contract with the Braves. He went on to find redemption in Atlanta, by having his best season since 2013. He pitched 136 2/3 innings for the Braves, posting a fantastic 2.83 ERA and a 3.62 FIP. He struck out 8.9 batters per nine, which was slightly above his career average of 8.0 through 2017.

Coming back to his pitch selection, here is a breakdown of how different his pitch usage was in 2018 in comparison with the year before, per Baseball Savant:

2017 pitch usage
Four Seamer – 26.2% (.340 BA, 6 HR, 21 SO)
Sinker – 23.4% (.311 BA, 9 HR, 24 SO)
Split Finger – 18.1% (.239 BA, 4 HR, 34 SO)
Slider – 12.4% (.471 BA, 4 HR, 3 SO)

2018 pitch usage
Four Seamer – 33% (.262 BA, 5 HR, 22 SO)
Cutter – 20.2% (.206 BA, 5 HR, 34 SO)
Split Finger – 19% (.165 BA, 2 HR, 33 SO)
Curve – 9.3% (.379 BA, 1 HR, 6 SO)

So, Sánchez found success by relying more on pitches that had been proven effective previously, while also working on his mechanics.

Can Pérez be the new Sánchez?

Exactly like Sánchez last year, there’s absolutely no way to know for sure if Pérez is going to have a good season or not. It’s like the Twins are on the eve of a blind date right now. But one thing is certain: he has to make major changes.

Thanks to this beautifully written story by Dan Hayes, of The Athletic, we can see a glimpse into how the coaching staff is approaching Pérez to achieve such changes. Hayes writes that “the Twins asked the left-hander to make a moderately significant mechanical change in which he incorporates his hips more into his delivery”. That has already had a huge impact. Not once in his career has Pérez had a pitch that averaged more than 93.4 mph in a season (four seamer, 2016). This spring, he's touched 97 mph multiple times and has maintained an average of 95 mph in his fastball.

Hayes also writes that during his spring outings so far, Pérez abandoned the slider, by far his worst pitch last year (.467 batting average and .867 slugging against). In its place, he has adopted a cutter, which has been admired by everybody watching the games.

Going back to his best season in the majors, 2013, it’s easy to notice how drastically Pérez's pitch selection changed in comparison with 2018, arguably his worst in the majors.

2013 pitch usage
Four Seamer – 35.2% (.338 BA, 3 HR, 12 SO)
Changeup – 23.7% (.174 BA, 4 HR, 45 SO)
Sinker – 22.4% (.291 BA, 4 HR, 15 SO)

2018 pitch usage
Sinker – 50.6% (.291 BA, 4 HR, 33 SO)
Changeup – 17.5% (.348 BA, 3 HR, 12 SO)
Four Seamer – 16.4% (.400 BA, 3 HR, 2 SO)

Better quality fastballs with increased velocity could do the trick. If he could also manage to recover the changeup he had in 2013, things could get even better. That was his only season with a sub-4.00 ERA (3.62 in 124 1/3 innings of work).

Per Twins beat reporter By Do-Hyoung Park, Pérez is getting advice on his changeup from fellow countryman and Twins Hall of Famer Johan Santana. Park writes that the soon-to-be 28 year-old “is trying to emphasize attacking hitters inside with his fastball and utilizing his changeup.” And you can tell how comfortable Pérez is feeling with all theses changes by looking at this quote from him on that same story: “Before, I just used my arms. Now, I’m using all my body, and you guys can see the results. I don’t miss inside anymore”. His most recent outing wasn’t nearly as good as the previous three, but that’s part of spring baseball. He gave up five earned runs in four innings of work Thursday against the Pirates.

It’s wait and see time. Pérez being brought in meant valuable youngsters expecting their shot in the rotation were made to wait a bit longer. I’m talking about Adalberto Mejía and Fernando Romero, both moved up to the bullpen. So, there’s a lot at stake for Pérez here, and the front office appears to have foregone other free agents in order to give him an opportunity. If he manages to pull the Aníbal Sánchez this year and/or more, Minnesota will have hit jackpot.

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Mar 16 2019 08:31 PM

I hope so! I think the thing that gives me hope is that this signing was made with a plan in mind. It seems like in the past, these moves have been made to add an arm with no strategy whatsoever. The Twins now seem to at least have a plan with every player they have, and even if it's not enough to put them in the playoffs, it gives me hope in this team long term.

    • DocBauer, CUtomorrownight, howieramone2 and 3 others like this
The Voice Of Reason
Mar 16 2019 08:41 PM
That would be sweet.
    • Thiéres Rabelo likes this

When they signed Pérez for as much money as they did, and with the rumors of other teams being interested, I thought the Twins had probably identified an obvious mechanical flaw, that perhaps other teams identified as well.Whether or not he can put that into action, and be consistent with that approach remains to be seen, but the increase in velocity itself demonstrates some success already. Encouraging.

    • birdwatcher, diehardtwinsfan, DocBauer and 6 others like this
Mar 17 2019 06:36 AM

it's spring, so we have to take it with a grain of salt, but I have to admit that I'm warning up to this move... and I didn't like it at first... Hope Perez proves me wrong.

    • DocBauer, tarheeltwinsfan, Thiéres Rabelo and 1 other like this

Everything that I've read about what Perez is doing this spring, and what has been suggested that he do, sounds very encouraging. Let's hope the early positive results continue and flourish during the regular season. Count me as a believer.

    • howieramone2 and Thiéres Rabelo like this

So the Twins shouldn't sign Dallas Keuchel this weeK?  


I wonder the the "pitch" to Perez and his agents went from the various interested teams.  


"What can I do to get better?"


"Take these monies from us, and we'll tell you."


The size of the monies indicated the degree of confidence all parties could take in the analysis of the information?

    • BenB likes this

Yes, Yes, Yes.

Most spring numbers are exciting only in fantasy baseball, but a couple of mph added to the fastball along with better command could turn this into a real find. I also hope the Santana change-up training also pays off.

    • DocBauer, howieramone2 and Thiéres Rabelo like this
This has mediocrity all over it. Has he ever been good? A 1.48 WHIP lifetime. Yes it is AL. You win half his starts and get 6 IP per outing you can be happy I guess.

Why can't the Twins develop more young pitchers?
    • ScrapTheNickname and BJames like this
The Voice Of Reason
Mar 17 2019 10:43 AM
Last reports were that he has increased velocity and is throwing in the “mid- to upper-90s”. If that’s accurate, he could have a breakout season.

Martin Perez was never as good as Sanchez was before Sanchez's good year last year. So will Perez be two full ERA points better than his average this year? Nah.


Perez is too young to be completely out of gas (probably), so he should be back to his old form (i.e., a #3 / #4). He will slot in nicely with all of the other #3 / #4s on the team to give the Twins the predictable year they are looking for (build for .500, hope for more).

    • DannySD likes this

Does that mean the Twins will be releasing him soon and a team with a better pitching coach will take him to another level,

    • Mike Sixel and Doomtints like this
Don’t overlook the obvious. Sánchez was once a great pitcher. Pérez has never been which doesn’t mean he can’t succeed but the comparison isn’t apt
    • Mike Sixel and DocBauer like this
Looking at Anibel Sanchez's career he sure missed alot of games. 136 IP. Amazing how Sanchez can get him a couple year contract. Pitching is so hard to fine.

Going to toss out this non-sequitur, though, like the signing of Perez, it makes one go hmmmm...


I was in Laughlin, NV, a couple of weeks ago. Twins were only 20 to 1 to win the Series.


I believe this is well before enough money has been bet to significantly change the betting line.


Last year, I picked up the Twins and they were, if memory serves, 70 to 1 or more.

Pérez being brought in meant valuable youngsters expecting their shot in the rotation were made to wait a bit longer. I’m talking about Adalberto Mejía and Fernando Romero...


Really? This kind of mushes cause with effect. First, Romero was already headed to the pen with his challenges with secondary pitches and endurance. And, Perez wasn't signed because he's good or projects value to speak of. (See one year contract, team option). Perez was brought in because the young arms...especially the left-handed arms,either aren't ready (Gonsalves) or aren't trusted (Mejia)...and because the rotation is basically completely right-handed without Mejia (or someone). Perez is someone. Sometimes, an emergency stop-gap/place-holder proves to be more than that. So, we've got that going for us...

    • howieramone2 likes this
Mar 18 2019 10:31 AM


This has mediocrity all over it. Has he ever been good? A 1.48 WHIP lifetime. Yes it is AL. You win half his starts and get 6 IP per outing you can be happy I guess.

Why can't the Twins develop more young pitchers?

Most teams have trouble developing young pitchers. Let's not pretend it's unique to the Twins. Also, we currently have Stewart, Gonsalves, and Thorpe at Rochester, and most likely Romero. That certainly puts us in the top half of all teams. 

    • wabene likes this
Mar 18 2019 10:39 AM


Does that mean the Twins will be releasing him soon and a team with a better pitching coach will take him to another level.

If you recall, the board had kittens when we signed Sanchez. It was a plan C move which became redundant when we signed Lynn shortly thereafter.

I wish you'd stop speaking for everyone. 


I was on board the Sanchez signing from the start, thought it was a great signing, and was disappointed when he was let go.

    • Mike Sixel likes this


Does that mean the Twins will be releasing him soon and a team with a better pitching coach will take him to another level,

The Astros?Isn't that where mediocre Twins pitchers go to become Al Stars?

I don't think there is any excuse that Martín Perez is a Twin right now and not Dallas Keuchel. NO. EXCUSE.

Mar 18 2019 11:20 AM


I don't think there is any excuse that Martín Perez is a Twin right now and not Dallas Keuchel. NO. EXCUSE.

He's not on any team. That's as good an excuse as any.

    • kenbuddha likes this

He's not on any team. That's as good an excuse as any.

And I find that interesting, don't you?

At some point, wouldn't he and his agent have taken a step back and lowered their demands or looked for a decent 1yr at worst just to get him in camp and going?

And yet, 2 weeks or less to go and he's still out there. Are his demands still that high?

I remain very skeptical about Perez. And while intrigued by a age, LH, previous prosoect ranking, his velocity jncrease and mostly good ST...I remain skeptical. But I am considering all these things when I say I am intrigued now. The numbers listed in the OP are really puzzling. How could he throw his worst pitches so much when data seems to clearly show a negative pattern?

Sort of reminds me of Gibson, who changed his approach, changed his mix, became more of a SO pitcher and developed more of an attacking and "bulldog" mentality. Is it possible a change of scenery, a fresh approach, a new pitching coach could really turn him around and in to a solid SP at 28?

Again, skeptical, but intrigued.
Mar 19 2019 02:40 AM
I didnt wanna get too excited at the time, but i have been living on Phoenix since 2005. Seeing Perez live on a bunch of occasions, I always thought he had a live arm. (the Rangers train in Surprise, Az.) This guy can get people out if he has a game plan. The last couple years were duds but lets see what he can do when he's healthy and following the program.

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