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Does the Simmons Move Hint at Which SP the Twins Could Target?

Posted by Andrew Luedtke , 27 January 2021 · 2,842 views

simmons dobnak pitching offseason
Does the Simmons Move Hint at Which SP the Twins Could Target? Twins fans were rightfully excited about acquring slick fielding SS Andrelton Simmons last night.

If you want to spend a fun 10 mintues, check out his defensive highlight reel here.

There's no doubt that grabbing the best defensive SS since Ozzie Smith will upgrade the Twins roster.

Combine Simmons with already strong defenders in Buxton, Donaldson, Jeffers, and Kepler, you can see how quickly the mind would shift to "well, what does this mean for their pitching?".

In my opinion, this means two things:


1) It upgrades the Twins existing staff (and should be helpful to one guy in particular)
2) It might tell us a bit about who the Twins could target next for a SP, given their newly upgraded defense

Simmons Impact on Existing Twins Pitchers:

Looking purely at GB% (calculated by the number of ground balls induced/number of balls put in play), we know that based on an improved defense, the more balls hit on the ground, the higher chance they have to be converted into outs than they did 24 hours ago (pre-Simmons signing).


It's even more fun to look at how much better the Twins defense is than in 2017 when Falvey and Levine took over. JD Cameron takes a look into that here.

From Fangraphs, a "ground ball pitcher" is any pitcher who has a GB% over 50%. League wide in 2019 - 2020, the average GB% was 42.8%.

Here is how the Twins current staff stacks up by GB% using combined stats from the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
For the most part, the majority of the staff has a below average GB% (would love to see what this chart looked like for the 2004 pitch-to-contact Twins).

GB Pitchers


Two names stand out here.


1. Randy Dobnak - GB% of 58.8%***
2. Taylor Rogers - GB% of 48.2%

***Since he came into the league, Randy Dobnak ranks 7th out of 284 pitchers in GB%.


Which SP could the Twins acquire that would benefit most from the Twins defense?

Given that any ball hit on the left side of the infield should be vaccumed up quicker than a Dyson, maybe this shifts how the front office approaches filling out the rotation. Ground ball pitchers stand to gain a lot if their infield can consistently convert more ground balls into outs.


It's the little things in baseball that make the major differences.

From 2019 - 2020, there were 284 pitchers that threw at least 75 IP.

Below are the ranks and GB% for the remaining free agents.

For this exercise, I only focused on FA that had a GB% at 44% or higher.


You can see the entire list from Fangraphs here.

Brett Anderson - 55.2% (17th)
Jake Arrieta - 51.4% (30th)
Adam Wainwright - 47.4% (71st)
Cole Hamels - 47.0% (79th)
Aaron Sanchez - 46.9% (81st)
Homer Bailey - 44% (128th)

Below are the ranks for potential trade candidates that have popped up in rumors. Again, I only focused on players with a GB% of 44% or higher.

Luis Castillo - 56.1% (13th)
Sonny Gray - 50.9% (35th)
German Marquez - 49.5% (52nd)
Jon Gray - 46.9% (81st)

BONUS. Here are a couple bullpen free agents that could benefit from a good defensive infield:


Jeremy Jeffress - 50.0%
Alex Colome - 47.7%


So there you have it. I will be interested to see how the Twins defense positively impacts the pitching staff all year long. Specifically, I am excited to see what this means for Randy Dobnak.

For now, I am most interested to see what the Simmons acquisition means in how the Twins front office addresses the rest of their pitching needs.

Do any names on this list jump out to you as being good targets for the Twins? Maybe now even moreso with a Simmons addition?


  • rukavina, woolywoolhouse, nclahammer and 1 other like this



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Doctor Gast
Jan 28 2021 05:37 AM

of coarse Luis Castillo, he had Bryant & Baez on his left side which he had benefitted greatly. W/o them he'd be another Dobnak.

But we have to remember we have Simmons for only 1 Year.

No Doc, Castillo pitches for the Reds.Baez and Bryant are Cubs.

 

Did Jon Paxton sign somewhere?Did I miss that ?

    • Doctor Gast likes this
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Andrew Luedtke
Jan 28 2021 09:33 AM

Paxton is still a free agent. But for these purposes, I only focused on Free Agent SP that had a GB% higher than 44%. Paxton isn't a ground ball guy. He is at 37.6%. 

No Doc, Castillo pitches for the Reds.Baez and Bryant are Cubs.

 

Did Jon Paxton sign somewhere?Did I miss that ?

 

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LA VIkes Fan
Jan 28 2021 10:38 AM

Would love Sonny Gray on the SP side but it seems unlikely we will give up the assets necessary to get him. I could actually see us signing Arrieta or Hamels on a 1 year deal, or even trading for Jon Gray. I've been interested in Colome for the BP from the beginning and Jeffries would be a nice addition. I'm just not sure that the Twins would spring for the multiyear deal and cost of a Colome. Jeffries might be more realistic.  

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Andrew Luedtke
Jan 28 2021 11:13 AM

I'd welcome any of those trade targets. I am not sure what is going on with the middle tier of the bullpen market. At this point, maybe Colome takes a 1-year deal?

Would love Sonny Gray on the SP side but it seems unlikely we will give up the assets necessary to get him. I could actually see us signing Arrieta or Hamels on a 1 year deal, or even trading for Jon Gray. I've been interested in Colome for the BP from the beginning and Jeffries would be a nice addition. I'm just not sure that the Twins would spring for the multiyear deal and cost of a Colome. Jeffries might be more realistic.  

 

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Doctor Gast
Jan 28 2021 12:26 PM

No Doc, Castillo pitches for the Reds.Baez and Bryant are Cubs.
 
Did Jon Paxton sign somewhere?Did I miss that ?

Thanks Top Gun, later I discovered my mistake and tried to correct it but you had already discovered it.:)
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Doctor Gast
Jan 28 2021 02:28 PM
Simmons acquisition could be a double blessing. 1st we strengthened our SS position. 2nd we took away the Reds last shot at a legitimate SS. Without a legitimate SS and the Reds are thinking about trading their capable 3B, Reds pitchers, Castillo and Gray would probably lose trading value because grounders are going through for hits. Hopefully our players value will go up. Then makes it more feasible to trade
Jefferies could be a fit for BP
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Andrew Luedtke
Jan 28 2021 06:18 PM

That's a great point. I never thought of it like that. Plus, the Orioles nabbed Freddy Galvis too so he's off the board. Basically, if they can't get Didi, maybe they pivot to just selling the team. Would LOVE Gray.

Simmons acquisition could be a double blessing. 1st we strengthened our SS position. 2nd we took away the Reds last shot at a legitimate SS. Without a legitimate SS and the Reds are thinking about trading their capable 3B, Reds pitchers, Castillo and Gray would probably lose trading value because grounders are going through for hits. Hopefully our players value will go up. Then makes it more feasible to trade
Jefferies could be a fit for BP

 

    • Doctor Gast likes this
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Doctor Gast
Jan 29 2021 04:31 PM

That's a great point. I never thought of it like that. Plus, the Orioles nabbed Freddy Galvis too so he's off the board. Basically, if they can't get Didi, maybe they pivot to just selling the team. Would LOVE Gray.


I believe Didi is too expensive for their blood. If there's a deal I think it won't happen until close to dead line. They more motivated to get rid of their heavy salary burden. I believe they'll do anything to drop them from their payroll.

I'm thinking there done with starting pitchers, if they get a pitcher it will be the relief variety.Simmons will help Dobnak immensely.