Do the Twins Really Have Baseball’s 2nd-Best Lineup?
Image courtesy of © David Dermer-USA TODAY SportsMLB.com annually ranks the top line-ups, starting staffs and bullpens. While Minnesota didn’t crack the top-10 in the starting pitcher rankings, the club did rank as the second-best line-up in all of baseball. To some, this might have been a surprise and others might have expected it. So, let’s dive in and see if the Twins have MLB’s second-best line-up.
Weighted Runs Created
MLB.com main statistical focus for their article was on weighted runs created (wRC). If you aren’t familiar with this statistic, wRC helps to quantify hits and times on base while also considering park effects and the current run scoring environment. League average is 100 so if a team/player is above 100, they are better than the league average.
For fans looking at the Twins and wRC, it can be a bit overwhelming, because FanGraph’s Steamer projections paint the team in a very good light. Before Buxton’s injury, the Twins had ten players projected to play in 35 games or more and post a wRC above league average. Minnesota’s top five in projected wRC are Josh Donaldson (137), Nelson Cruz (135), Miguel Sano (122), Max Kepler (118), and Eddie Rosario (111).
Weighted On-Base Average
Another statistic fans might be unfamiliar with is weighted on-base average (wOBA). According to FanGraphs, wOBA “combines all the different aspects of hitting into one metric, weighting each of them in proportion to their actual run value.” Batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage have flaws and wOBA helps to alleviate some of those discrepancies. A typical hitter will finish the season with a .320 wOBA.
Guess what? The Twins are projected to very well when it comes to wOBA as well. Every player scheduled to be a regular has a wOBA north of .320. Even Willians Astudillo in a short 10-game stint falls into this category. Minnesota’s top-five in projected wOBA include Donaldson (.379), Cruz (.375), Sano (.356), Kepler (.350), and Rosario (.340).
Offensive Runs Above Average (OFF)
There is no perfect measure of offensive performance and Offensive Runs Above Average (OFF) attempts to combine a player’s batting runs and base running runs compared to the league average. This results in a combination of the weighted stolen base runs, weighted double play runs, and ultimate base running. League average ends up being set to zero and 9-10 runs results in one win of value according to FanGraphs.
Josh Donaldson and Nelson Cruz rank well above the rest of the Twins line-up when it comes to OFF. Donaldson’s 10.6 OFF ranks as the best on the team and he’s two points higher than Nelson Cruz (8.6 OFF). Max Kelper (5.8 OFF), Miguel Sano (4.6), and Eddie Rosario (3.7) have the other top five OFF totals for the Twins. Sano is likely starting the year out of the line-up as he has failed to pass the league mandated COVID-19 protocols since summer camp opened.
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