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Twins Blogosphere


There’s Hope for a Martin Perez Bounce Back

On Wednesday the Twins deal with lefty starter Martin Perez became official. The terms of the contract are one-year at $3.5 million with an option for 2020 at $7.5 million ($500,000 buyout). When this signing was first announced nearly two weeks ago it left many Twins fans, myself included, scratching their heads as to what the Twins saw in the 27-year-old coming off a season where he posted a 6.22 ERA over 85 1/3 innings. So, I dug into the data a little bit more, and I think I found the answer.
Image courtesy of © Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports
Before his awful 2018 season, Perez was a reliable backend of the rotation starter for the Texas Rangers. In both 2016 and 2017, Perez put up consecutive 2.1 fWAR seasons after combining for a 4.60 ERA across 383 2/3 innings. While these numbers don’t exactly jump off the map, anytime you can get those numbers out of your fifth starter in the rotation you are in a better situation than most rotations, especially when compared to those in recent Twins history.

Even though Perez had a 6.22 ERA in 2018, many advanced statistics pointed to him being nearly the same pitcher as he was in his two prior seasons. While Perez’s FIP wasn’t that appealing at 5.72, his xFIP was far lower at 4.98. For those that aren’t familiar with the difference between FIP and xFIP, xFIP uses the same baseline as FIP except it also accounts for a pitcher’s HR/FB rate. In 2018, Perez had a HR/FB rate of 18.2%, which far exceeded his career average of 11.7%. It can be expected that for this number to return to his norms in 2019, and thus will have a large impact on Perez’s run prevention.

Additionally, many of the Statcast metrics also tell the story of Perez being nearly the same pitcher in 2018 that he was in 2016 & 2017. When a pitcher has a down season it often coincides with a decrease in pitch velocity. This can often be worrisome to MLB teams as it can be an indicator that the pitcher has fallen off physically. However, when looking at Martin Perez, that doesn’t seem to have been the case, as is evident by the chart seen below.

Attached Image: Martin Perez Velo Chart.PNG

Another great way to use Statcast data to help predict a player’s future performance is by looking at their expected stats. When looking into these metrics, it yet again points to the fact that Perez was actually a much better pitcher in 2018 than his 6.22 ERA implies. Last season, Perez had a batting average allowed of .329, but his expected AVG (xAVG) allowed was just .287. This 42-point drop from actual batting average to his xAVG was the largest drop of any pitcher who faced at least 350 batters in 2018. When looking at a far more advanced stat like wOBA, we see the same thing. Last year, Perez had an actual wOBA of .390, but his xwOBA was 37-points lower at .353. This was the 4th largest drop off among the same 166 pitchers who faced at least 350 batters last season.

One thing that has kept Perez from ever becoming a top, or even middle, of the rotation starter is his well below average strikeout numbers. For his career, Perez has struck out a mere 13.9% of opposing batters. Of the 148 pitchers who have thrown at least 500 innings since Perez came into the league in 2012, Perez’s strikeout rate ranks 144th. Despite this, Perez has still been a serviceable starter for the majority of his career. In 2018, Perez’s strikeout rate checked in at 13.1%, barely below his career average.

At the end of the day, Martin Perez isn’t going to be that breakthrough signing that will put the Twins over the top. However, I think it is fair to assume that the front office had a plan in mind when signing Perez, and he could very well wind up serving a much bigger role on the 2019 Minnesota Twins than just adding depth to the starting rotation.

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59 Comments

Seems like Hector Santiago 2.0

Hope this works out

    • tarheeltwinsfan and nclahammer like this

Great!

 

Now all we need is a Sano bounceback, and a Buxton bounceback, a Kepler bounceback, a Polanco bounceback, an Addison Reed bounceback, an Odorizzi bounceback, a Schoop bounceback, a Hildenberger bounceback, a Pineda bounceback....

 

And a closer.

 

Then, we might even contend for the Central!!

 

    • Twins33, PseudoSABR, Otwins and 7 others like this
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The Mask of Zoilo
Jan 31 2019 08:50 PM
For comparison Adalberto Mejia era, fip and xfip 2017: 4.50 4.65 5.03. 2018: 2.01 4.06 5.40 Plus Mejia has not been durable.
If fip and xfip are so far off the actual results I have trouble believing they’re reliable predicting the future results.
    • Danchat, shimrod, jud6312 and 1 other like this
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The Mask of Zoilo
Jan 31 2019 08:55 PM
Also this is evidence that the Twins are leaning towards using Romero for a prominent bullpen role.
    • tarheeltwinsfan and caninatl04 like this
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Old Twins Cap
Jan 31 2019 08:59 PM

 

Great!

 

Now all we need is a Sano bounceback, and a Buxton bounceback, a Kepler bounceback, a Polanco bounceback, an Addison Reed bounceback, an Odorizzi bounceback, a Schoop bounceback, a Hildenberger bounceback, a Pineda bounceback....

 

And a closer.

 

Then, we might even contend for the Central!!

 

Don't think of it as bounce-backs.

 

It's career years.

 

And career years are what championships are made of.

 

Yes, Twins have to hope for as many players as possible to have career years.

 

And so does every other team.

 

 

    • Minny505 likes this
They have a plethora of guys in AAA and AA who need a look, because they have one guy under contract past this year. Perez means they will gather less information, all for the upside of a good number five.
    • Twins33, Danchat, Sconnie and 11 others like this
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The Wise One
Jan 31 2019 09:53 PM
Every year the Twins start with 5 starters. 2004 was the last time there were 4 starters who started 30+ games. Whoever you thought the 5th starter should be will get a chance if they are the first or second man up
    • Minny505 likes this

If fip and xfip are so far off the actual results I have trouble believing they’re reliable predicting the future results.


Fortunately there have been studies of the data, and both fip and xfip have been proven better predictors of future results than ERA.
    • Minny505 likes this

They have a plethora of guys in AAA and AA who need a look, because they have one guy under contract past this year. Perez means they will gather less information, all for the upside of a good number five.


They have an option for Perez next year.

Every year the Twins start with 5 starters. 2004 was the last time there were 4 starters who started 30+ games. Whoever you thought the 5th starter should be will get a chance if they are the first or second man up

agreed, but they’re all pushed back. 6th man in the rotation should still get 10 starts, but 7th should get a couple and after that 1 for each of the 8-11.
    • tarheeltwinsfan, jud6312 and sweetmusicviola16 like this
So, his expected BA against should really be in the. 280 range? And his ERA should be in the 4.60 area? Yea, I'd take that for $3.5M instead of letting my talented arms audition, learn and grow. I'm sorry, I still don't get this move at all.
    • Twins33, Danchat, Sconnie and 12 others like this
Bounce back to what?
    • Mike Sixel, Twins33, Danchat and 7 others like this
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MMMordabito
Feb 01 2019 09:35 AM

 

agreed, but they’re all pushed back. 6th man in the rotation should still get 10 starts, but 7th should get a couple and after that 1 for each of the 8-11.

 

Last year, it was the "5th" guy that had closer to 10 starts and then there were 8 guys who got between 2 and 5 starts (not counting Moya's openers) .... There is a lot at play here with the Perez signing

 

Only Berrios and now Perez under control for next season

 

Not counting chickens with Pineda

 

None of the prospects looked liked they were close to ready for a full season workload ... Romero was the closest, but articles are still being written about his need to develop his secondary offerings

 

De Jong and Slegers have both been DFA'd, so the pile of guys needing a look is smaller.

 

Last year seven starts were given to the less than healthy combo of Hughes/Santana .... None of those types are in the mix this season ... Well, unless that bad luck kitty crosses Pineda again .... Then they will have come full circle and will need someone like Perez

 

Last but not least, I doubt Baldelli will be required to keep Perez in the rotation if he is being outpitched by say Stewart or Gonsalves .... On the surface, 4 mill for a lefty long man seems to be an overpay, but if your paying Stewart 600K as the 5th guy, it all evens out.

 

 

    • Minny505 likes this
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birdwatcher
Feb 01 2019 10:01 AM

 

They have a plethora of guys in AAA and AA who need a look, because they have one guy under contract past this year. Perez means they will gather less information, all for the upside of a good number five.

 

 

Let's not lose sight of the reality that the Twins already have lots of capable eyes on every one of their AAA and AA prospects. You and I may need to see them in MLB to gather information, but the organization does not.

 

The Perez decision is not sensible on the surface, we all know that. Right or wrong, they have a reason for making the move. We just don't know what it is.

 

Something tells me that they're concerned about Mejia's durability, they're concerned about Gonsaves making the final adjustments to be reliable making the final jump, they're concerned about Thorpe's readiness, and concerned about Littell's stuff perhaps. Wells and Graterol are new to AA. Romero is a better bullpen piece maybe?

 

We'll see. Maybe the Perez move isn't as stupid as we think it is.

    • SomeGuy and The Mask of Zoilo like this
My biggest problem with with Perez is the similarity to Mejia. Both are left handed. Both have control and health concerns. Both seem to have back of the rotation ceilings. Neither has spent much time in the bullpen. Both are use him or lose him situations, since neither can be sent to the minors without exposing them to waivers.

I think the concerns that Perez may block more high ceiling starters is legimate. Both Perez and Mejia both seem to be guys who could succeed in the bullpen, but probably not as as high leverage guys. Two left handed mop up guys or even multi inning, multi purpose guys seems a little redundant.

I guess you can't have too much pitching, and I get the idea that the higher ceiling back of the rotation candidates may need more time at AAA, but I would of rather seen a good reliever, or a roll of the dice on a higher ceiling bounce back starter.
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Battle ur tail off
Feb 01 2019 10:05 AM

 

Let's not lose sight of the reality that the Twins already have lots of capable eyes on every one of their AAA and AA prospects. You and I may need to see them in MLB to gather information, but the organization does not.

 

 

 

Yah, cause they've done such a beautiful job of identifying and developing pitching prospects.;)

    • jud6312, caninatl04 and sweetmusicviola16 like this

To put things into perspective:

 

a. Perez is 27 years old.Here are Jake Arrieta's numbers up to his age 27 season in Baltimore: 5.46 ERA, 4.72 FIP, 1.472 WHIP, 7.0 K/9, and 4.0 BB/9; so far Perez's numbers are: 4.63 ERA, 4.44 FIP, 1.479 WHIP, 5.5 K/9, 3.2 BB/9.In the ballpark, if not better.It is not the first time that a 27 year old moved to another team and blossomed.

 

b. Texas (like Baltimore for Arrieta) are not known to develop pitchers though their systems. 

 

c. Some pitchers are late bloomers.Cleveland's Klubel and Carasco and Houston's Keuchel are in the category of pitchers who really did not do much until their age 26 or 27 season.The listincludes more, and a certain 5 time Cy Young award winner and HOF lefty.

 

d. Perez at some point was baseball's #17 prospect according to BA and #15 prospect according to BP, so there is some talent there.

 

e. We are talking about the Twins fifth starter.Not their opening day starter. I would argue that Perez will be better than Gonsalves based of what we have seen so far by both.Perez's 2018 in the majors was better than Gonsalves's, so the risk is minimal for the Twins.On the other hand, if Perez pulls an Arrieta, the Twins have a bargain.If the Twins get something close to what the Cubs got from Arrieta in 2014 and 2015 for $11.5 million for both seasons, I suspect that there won't be many detractors...

 

f. If he does not work out, he can pitch in the pen/get cut while the younger pitchers had some time to develop further in AAA and replace him for a cost of $4 million of the Twins (which is less than 1/3 of what Phil Hughes will receive in 2019...)I also suspect that he will be better than Matty Belisle was in the pen...

    • jorgenswest, Otwins, Major League Ready and 5 others like this
My main issue is that they aimed low. Again.
    • Twins33, DocBauer, jud6312 and 4 others like this

 

 

. For his career, Perez has struck out a mere 13.9% of opposing batters.

 

True.However one needs to get a bit more granular with that.He has struck out 20.7% with his changeup and 21.8% with his slider (career numbers).His sinker induces 60.4% ground ball rate.

 

Those are not bad numbers, esp. for a back of the rotation guy.

 

His problem is his four seamer and curve that are pretty awful.Last season opponents hit .422 off his four seamer (vs. 286 off his sinker) and 37.5% of the flyballs off his curve were home runs (that moved his overall to 18.2%).Getting rid of those pitches that he threw 25% of the time will go a long way towards improvement. 

 

If one can see that opportunity by simply looking at publicly available numbers, I am sure that the Twins saw even more, because they have more data.

    • birdwatcher, Bill Tanner, caninatl04 and 1 other like this

 

True.However one needs to get a bit more granular with that.He has struck out 20.7% with his changeup and 21.8% with his slider (career numbers).His sinker induces 60.4% ground ball rate.

 

Those are not bad numbers, esp. for a back of the rotation guy.

 

His problem is his four seamer and curve that are pretty awful.Last season opponents hit .422 off his four seamer (vs. 286 off his sinker) and 37.5% of the flyballs off his curve were home runs (that moved his overall to 18.2%).Getting rid of those pitches that he threw 25% of the time will go a long way towards improvement. 

 

If one can see that opportunity by simply looking at publicly available numbers, I am sure that the Twins saw even more, because they have more data.

 

And yet TX, who has no pitching, moved him to RP, and then let him go. I'm sure TX has plenty of data too.

 

Hoping and wishcasting is fine, but let's not pretend that he's likely to become Arrieta. That's super rare.

    • birdwatcher, DocBauer, Minny505 and 2 others like this

Reminds me of Tommy Milone. Hopefully if his first 20 starts are good we will trade him.

    • Mike Sixel, Minny505 and jud6312 like this

 

They have a plethora of guys in AAA and AA who need a look, because they have one guy under contract past this year. Perez means they will gather less information, all for the upside of a good number five.

Agreed that this team should be adding near the top of the rotation, rather than likely at the bottom.

 

But I am glad that they're not penciling in any of those AA/AAA pitchers for the opening day rotation. Really only Romero and Mejia interest me right now, and Romero is apparently ticketed for the pen and Mejia's 2018 season ended rather ominously with concerns around his elbow...

    • Otwins likes this
The more I think about this I’m seeing Perez and Mejia battle out for the fifth spot and the loser opening for Odor and Pineda.
    • Original Whizzinator likes this
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KirbyDome89
Feb 01 2019 12:59 PM

 

Something tells me that they're concerned about Mejia's durability, they're concerned about Gonsaves making the final adjustments to be reliable making the final jump, they're concerned about Thorpe's readiness, and concerned about Littell's stuff perhaps. Wells and Graterol are new to AA. Romero is a better bullpen piece maybe?

 

We'll see. Maybe the Perez move isn't as stupid as we think it is.

I'm in total agreement that the pitching depth has serious questions, but isn't that more of an indictment of the Perez signing rather than a justification for it?

    • shimrod, Minny505, jud6312 and 1 other like this

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