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2017-18 MLB Off-Season Transactions Thread

Other Baseball Today, 10:16 AM
I thought I'd get this going now (and pin it), even though we still have a few weeks to go. Please use this thread to track MLB NON-TWINS...
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Non-Twins Offseason Rumors

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Mostly from Heyman's twitter.   Profar for Harvey swap being discussed Yankees trying to trade for Gerritt Cole but Pirates say they...
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Article: Twins Sign Closer Rodney To One-Year Deal

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 10:11 AM
The Twins headed into the Winter Meetings with almost zero closing experience on their roster. They will exit with a wealth of it.On Thur...
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Article: Twins Sign RHP Michael Pineda

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:54 AM
The Twins announced this morning that they have signed right-handed pitcher Michael Pineda to a two-year, $10 million deal. The former Ma...
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Article: Twins Select RHP Tyler Kinley In Rule 5 Draft (L...

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See updates below...The Twins lost two players in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 draft and added a right-handed pitcher. In the m...
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Minnesota's Defensive Dilemma

Defense wins championships. While in baseball that adage might not completely apply, the defensive side of the ball is a big part of the game. Teams can make up for other holes in the roster by playing solid defense and doing some of the other little things right on the field.

The Twins needed their defense to help this team to take the next step. Many of the regular players on the roster have been sub-par at their primary defensive position and this has only added to some of the first-half frustrations.
Image courtesy of Rick Osentoski, USA Today Sports
During last week's All-Star Break, SABR released their updated rankings for the SABR Defensive Index (SDI). According to SABR, the Defensive Index draws on and aggregates two types of existing defensive metrics: those derived from batted ball location-based data and those collected from play-by-play accounts.

The SDI rankings were updated through games as of July 10, 2016. It allows fans to compare the defense of their everyday players in relation to other players at the same position in the American League. Zero is the baseline score for SDI so a player with a positive score is doing well and a player with a negative score is not doing so well.

Here are the position players that have qualified so far this year and how they compare to other players at their position in the American League.

Joe Mauer, First Base
SDI Score: 2.8
While Mauer's bat might have cooled off a little in recent weeks, his defense continues to be strong at first base. Mauer trails only Mitch Moreland in the AL SDI rankings for first base. This is a vast improvement over Mauer's play even as recently as last season. In 2015, Mauer posted a -0.1 SDI score and finished ranked tied for the fourth worst defensive AL first baseman. It might be tough for Mauer to catch Moreland for the top spot in the AL but he should be a Gold Glove finalist at first base.

Brian Dozier, Second Base
SDI Score: -4.5
I wrote about Dozier's defensive ineptitude during the off-season in hopes that he could make a turn-around similar to Jose Altuve. Unfortunately, Dozier's defense hasn't improve and he might actually be getting worse. Only Johnny Giavotella of the Angels ranks lower than Dozier according to the SDI. Last year, Dozier was able to finish ahead of only Robinson Cano and Giavotella. He finished with a -6.1 SDI score last season so it looks like Dozier will shatter that mark in 2016. Many Twins fans associate Dozier with playing good defense but that's not the case. He struggles to get to balls that are routinely gotten to by other players at his position.

Eduardo Escobar, Shortstop
SDI Score: -1.1
While Eduardo Nunez has taken over the full-time shortstop role, he had played over 60 fewer innings at shortstop compared to Eduardo Escobar when this update was released. Nunez will likely be featured on SDI updates the rest of the season. However, he likely won't score very well and he might not be in a Twins uniform by the end of the month. Only four shortstops in the AL have posted positive SDI marks this season. Escobar ranks fifth on the list ahead of players like Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts, and Elvis Andrus. In the final 2015 SDI rankings, Escobar finished ninth in the AL (-1.4 SDI score). Overall, he has moved up in the rankings but his score is trending in the wrong direction.

Kurt Suzuki, Catcher
SDI Score: -2.5
Suzuki has never been known for his defensive prowess. He has a hard time throwing out runners but Twins pitchers like throwing with him behind the plate. Suzuki currently sits in ninth place in the AL which ranks him ahead of five qualifying catchers. He was the worst ranking catcher according to SDI last season with a -8.4, a total that was more than four times worse than the next qualifying catcher.

At this juncture of the season, only one everyday player has a positive score which is scary considering the state of the Twins pitching staff. Young players like Max Kepler and Byron Buxton haven't played enough innings to qualify but they both should score well in future updates. With Miguel Sano's recent struggles at third base, Minnesota's infield is almost entirely composed of sub-par defensive players.

With young pitchers like Tyler Duffey and (eventually) Jose Berrios trying to establish themselves, it's imperative for the defense behind them to be strong. Right now, there are some holes in Minnesota's defense but the next month could see some changes as veteran players are dealt away.

Did any of the SDI scores surprise you? Who would you put in Minnesota's best defensive line-up? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.


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33 Comments

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Winston Smith
Jul 21 2016 07:31 PM

Funny, Smally said tonight that Dozier is a Gold Glove calber 2B.

    • hybridbear likes this
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puckstopper1
Jul 21 2016 07:35 PM

I take it Plouffe did not qualify to be ranked?Seems like he has played as much 3B as Escobar has SS.

Earlier in the year Smalley said the Twins were just unlucky. When they score 7 runs they lose 8-7. When they get a good pitching performance they lose 2-1.

Interesting just that so few regulars have even played enough to qualify.

Defense metrics seem to be very strange. Last year's top two AL first baseman were Mike Napoli and Albert Pujols. Neither would be consider a gold glove candidate.

So much for Dozier and "defensive prowess". I wish that there was a ranking for Plouffe as well--I am a skeptic of his defense. There are only 4 shortstops with a positive ranking? Wow! That's unexpected. Given the stated numbers I see why other teams are uninterested in Twins regular position players.

Interesting... I always take a cautious approach to defensive metrics, as some can differ greatly from others. I know Dozier isn't the greatest, but I don't recall him being so terrible. I'd like to see some evidence of that. Also, I find it odd that Escobar is the 5th best defensive SS in the league with all of his errors. I remain very skeptical of these...

    • howieramone2 likes this
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Old Twins Cap
Jul 21 2016 10:21 PM

Defensive metrics are to be taken with a boulder of salt. 

 

That said, when Napoli recently hit one up the middle and jogged toward first and Dozier's off-balance throw pulled Mauer way off the bag, allowing Napoli to jog through for a hit -- I mean, come on, Dozier is not some kind of defensive wizard.His weak, side arm throws, his lack of range -- I'm not seeing above average defense, at all;more like, bottom third.

 

Plouffe was good laterally;Escobar made the plays, LAST YEAR. Mauer is generally solid.Suzuki is a good catcher, but a lousy thrower.The Twins outfield is fine.

 

You look at KC, they WIN games with defense. Top caliber plays, from Gordon in left to Moustakas, to Escobar at short, and particularly Hosmer and Salvador Perez.That's what a winning team's defense looks like.Not to mention Cain. I've seen them win games with just their defense.

 

Twins are not there.Or close.And Dozier is nowhere near league average.

 

 

Thank you for this write up. While some are questioning your findings, this does support my "eye test".

There is one exception: I did not think Dozier was THAT bad. My eye test does say, "he is not what we once thought he was". Dozier can make some great plays at times BUT all MLB players can. That's why we sit here watching them get paid...they are great just to make MLB.
    • howieramone2 likes this
I find the shortstop scores to be interesting. Does anyone know why they are all so low? Are the AL shortstops just bad? Are the ratings low because shortstop is a difficult position to play?
    • Danchat likes this
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Willihammer
Jul 22 2016 08:05 AM

On the plus side, I'd say the Twins have assembled some fine fielding pitchers. Gibson especially. Unfortunately they get few chances to showcase their talents as batted balls tend to go screaming past their "zones" before the back leg lands.

    • HitInAPinch likes this
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Willihammer
Jul 22 2016 08:06 AM

 

 

Funny, Smally said tonight that Dozier is a Gold Glove calber 2B.

But did he mean that in the classic sense of the word "Gold Glove?"

 

But did he mean that in the classic sense of the word "Gold Glove?"

Well, even if he didn't mean it literally, it was still a statement saying he thinks his defense is really good. It hasn't been.

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howieramone2
Jul 22 2016 08:39 AM

At this point in time, the only player I am concerned about at all is Brooks Sano. Flushing board favorites Pinto and Arcia at least showed our hearts are in the right place.

    • adorduan and KGB like this

Another reason to Trade Dozier and give Polanco a shot at 2b. If Escobar can stay healthy I think the Twins need to keep him until there is a better option from within the system.

 

I find the shortstop scores to be interesting. Does anyone know why they are all so low? Are the AL shortstops just bad? Are the ratings low because shortstop is a difficult position to play?

The scores (if like the other defensive statistics) are relative to league-average, and the AL currently has two amazing SS in Lindor and Simmons skewing the average higher than normal.

    • Mike Frasier Law likes this
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HitInAPinch
Jul 22 2016 09:13 AM

I keep reading about the SABR Defensive Index.I just don't know what to think of this.

 

On one hand, it values statistics higher that the eyeball test.But it still takes into account things like "play by play accounts", "the number of "excellent" and "poor" fielding plays", "sure-handedness" and this little ditty:"Pitch framing by catchers is not currently included in the defensive metrics that comprise the SDI".

 

I only point out that last one because it's such a hot topic now.

 

What I'm getting at is it seems like an odd combination of stats and "defensive elements".

Fangraphs (I dropped the ABs down to 200 to add more players)

 

Mauer: 7th (Park is number 1 in UZR/150)

Dozier: 31st of 35.....

Nunez: 21 (at SS)

Escobar: 26

Plouffe: 37 of 40 (Valencia is last, btw)

Suzuki: 35 of 54

 

Kepler: 31 of 41 (that's a bit surprising)

Buxton: 25 of 43

Santana: (CF) 31 of 43

Rosario: 17

Grossman: 37 of 43

 

I know everyone will say this is BUNK because of the Buxton rating.....but there are a lot of things that go into the DEF scores, and he scores pretty much median in every part of the score. I expect that to improve over time.

 

So, ya, the defense isn't good....

    • Thrylos and Mike Frasier Law like this

I have been a fan of defensive metrics overall, because they take into account more than just errors, but situations, and how those errors occur.  I remember when they first came out people were shocked because they turned the whole good fielding thing on its head.  I believe defense is key to having a good team.  It is the one part of the game you can't put numbers on that easy, but affects pitching so much.  Good defense keeps pitch count down, and ERA because good defenders take hits away, or at very least do not turn outs into hits because they had a bad read or made a bad decision that did not result in an error.

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howieramone2
Jul 22 2016 09:37 AM

 

Fangraphs (I dropped the ABs down to 200 to add more players)

 

Mauer: 7th (Park is number 1 in UZR/150)

Dozier: 31st of 35.....

Nunez: 21 (at SS)

Escobar: 26

Plouffe: 37 of 40 (Valencia is last, btw)

Suzuki: 35 of 54

 

Kepler: 31 of 41 (that's a bit surprising)

Buxton: 25 of 43

Santana: (CF) 31 of 43

Rosario: 17

Grossman: 37 of 43

 

I know everyone will say this is BUNK because of the Buxton rating.....but there are a lot of things that go into the DEF scores, and he scores pretty much median in every part of the score. I expect that to improve over time.

 

So, ya, the defense isn't good....

The only member of the team who doesn't pass the eyeball test is Brooks Sano, and I don't like the way Suzuki handles the run game. We can contend with these defenders in 2017, depending on how the Brooks Sano situation shakes out.

 

This is off topic, but next time you're at the ballpark, try striking up a conversation with the fan next to you on pitch framing.

The scores (if like the other defensive statistics) are relative to league-average, and the AL currently has two amazing SS in Lindor and Simmons skewing the average higher than normal.


I have to imagine they are being compared to MLB average. Could be most of the above average shortstops are in the NL right now.
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Willihammer
Jul 22 2016 09:51 AM

Brooks Sano?

 

I have to imagine they are being compared to MLB average. Could be most of the above average shortstops are in the NL right now.

That could be. But given that there are separate awards for the AL and NL, my guess is that they split the leagues.

That could be. But given that there are separate awards for the AL and NL, my guess is that they split the leagues.


That would reduce an already suspect sample size significantly. And if they are using existing published stats, those are already scaled to MLB average, so it would take some work to adjust them for AL and NL, no? I can't imagine they do that.

The top score in each league should still be the same winners regardless if it is compared to a baseline of MLB or league.
    • Mike Sixel likes this
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Parker Hageman
Jul 22 2016 11:08 AM

HEY! Speaking of defensive metrics, here is Rob Antony's take on them from our 2010 interview:

 

TC: Do you guys have your own internal database that has this information or do you reference other websites?

 

We look through a lot of websites. We look at a lot of what you guys do. What you guys put together, we take all that information into consideration…the problem I have is that a few years ago when we traded [Jason] Bartlett to Tampa, they said the reason they wanted him was that he had the highest UZR, he’s got the best Zone Rating out of any shortstop. Alright. We watched the guy; we liked him and thought he was a pretty good shortstop too.A year later, people were writing “What happened to Bartlett?” His rating dropped off to 15th from number one. He wasn’t any different the next year – the stats said he was – but I’m not sure he was any different from the next year.

 

That’s why the defensive part of it is the hardest part for statisticians to get their hands around. And I think that’s still the case. I think that people have legitimate things that they base it on, to come up with those numbers and to rank guys out, but you treat it kind of with a grain of salt. You go with what your scouts are saying. Sometimes though you might call your scout and say “You’ve got this guy at a 6 range. The Zone Rating doesn’t back that up. You sure you want to stay with a 6 range?” He might say “I will stay with a 6 range, he’s got great first-step quickness” or he might back off and say “You know what, I didn’t see a lot of plays – he didn’t have to go to the hole that much – but he seems like he has first-step quickness.” Then he backs off from his 6 range.

 

It generates a good discussion. We don’t ever just sign a guy based on his written report. We call the guy that wrote the report. We want verbal confirmation; we want to hear his voice that he has conviction and belief in it. That’s a roundabout way of saying we look at all forms of information.

 

 


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