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    Joe Mauer hit just one infield fly ball all year making his 1.0% infield fly rate the second lowest in all of baseball. That’s a significant increase over his totals last year when he did not hit a single fly ball to anyone in the infield. See, there is still plenty of reason to boo him.

    Mauer is often credited with having the perfect swing, and the fact that he is not popping pitches up to the second baseman is telling how square he hits the ball. That said Twins fans rarely saw this elusive perfect swing this year as his 35.4% swing rate was the lowest in baseball (compared to the 46% league average).

    Once again, Mauer's first-pitch swing was the lowest in baseball as he offered at just 8% of total first pitches thrown to him. With that reputation, rumor has it that Hollywood is tapping Mauer to star in the latest action movie sequel,Taken 3: The First Pitch.

    32 times this year Denard Span was on second base when a double was hit – the most in baseball. I don’t know what it means but it is provocative. Speaking of Span, because he was caught looking in a baseball-high 48% of his strikeouts, he receives baseball’s 2012 Voyeurism Award for liking to watch so much. (Oh, yeah. You're such a dirty curve on the outer-half of the plate. Oh you filthy backdoor slider...)

    Josh Willingham had an incredible power year for the Twins – dropping 35 dingers on the crowd. That’s more than anyone in one season in a Twins uniform not named “Killebrew”. But, with great power comes great responsibility…and then some strikeouts. The Hammer came perilously close to breaking another dubious honor: At 141 strikeouts on the year, he was just five shy of overtaking Bobby Darwin as the Twins’ single-season strikeout king. Darwin had set that mark of 145 in 1972.

    Willingham is probably voting for Mitt Romney this election because, like Romney, he too enjoyed destroying lefties: his 15 home runs were tied with Chicago’s Adam Dunn for the most off of wrong-handed pitchers.

    Even though Willingham had the highest total, it was Justin Morneau who put on the display. According to HitTrackerOnline.com, Morneau had top three longest home runs hit this season in terms of “true distance” which went 451, 448 and 439 feet respectively.

    According to Baseball-Reference.com, Ben Revere’s 43 infield hits were tops in the American League. This is not surprising due to (A) his speed and (B) his 67% ground ball rate. The real question is, are we sure he’s hitting the ball on those and not just catching it and throwing it as far as he can? Can we re-check the video in slo-mo?

    Swinging to contact? The offense paced baseball with an 82% contact rate on their swings. Span and Revere were a regular Murderer’s Row for contact, putting the bat on the ball in 92% of their swings.

    Defensively, the Twins ability to control the run game was atrocious. Whether you want to blame it on the pitching staff for not holding runners or the catchers for being unable to throw them out, the Twins were able to throw out 15 would-be base-stealers on 135 attempts. Only Pittsburgh threw out fewer base-stealers (14).

    The Twins starters threw more than 100 pitches in just 29 starts this year. Only the hapless Rockies had fewer starts (15) with going over the century mark.

    (Editor’s note: Depressed yet?)

    How about that pitching to contact philosophy? The 2012 rotation excelled in that department. Fangraphs.com says their 83.9% contact rate was the highest in baseball. Unfortunately for the Twins, it was not glancing blows, either. The starters had the worst production out of their fastballs so says Fangraphs.com’s Pitch Value warehouse. The Twins starters’ fastballs were collectively -89.2 runs below average. That’s how you don’t make it to 100 pitches in a night…

    The Twins pitching staff surrendered 23 “No Doubt” home runs. Those are categorized at HitTrackerOnline.com as those which the “ball cleared the fence by at least 20 vertical feet AND landed at least 50 feet past the fence.” Cole DeVries led all pitchers with five No Doubters allowed.

    The Twins’ 541 strikeouts by their starting pitching staff were, bar none, the least in baseball. Yet, that’s not even the worst performance Minnesota fans have witnessed by their rotation. In club history, it ranks as the 11th lowest strikeout mark (excluding strike-shortened seasons). So, yeah, itcould have been worse.

    Scott Diamond may have been the Pitcher of the Year for the Twins but he did not get that title by missing bats. According to Pitch F/X, his four-seam fastball induced a swing-and-miss just 6.1% of the time, the lowest the game this year. On the flip side, opponents beat that pitch into the ground 58% of the time, the second-highest rate behind teammate Samuel Deduno.

    What may have made his fastball that effect was how much he worked in his 11-to-5 curveball. Diamond spun his hook 29.1% of the time, making him the pitcher to use his curveball the most in the American League.

    The Twins used 25 pitchers this year, a new franchise record. Correction: The Twins used 24 pitchers this year and one Drew Butura. That number topped last year’s previous record of 24.

    The bullpen was a fairly bright spot this year and overlooked among Glen Perkins and Jared Burton’s solid seasons is the work done by Brian Duensing. Although he can be a human pitching machine when he starts, in the pen he’s nearly unhittable. This season, he allowed just one home run in relief making his 0.16 home runs allowed per nine innings the third lowest in the game and the second lowest for the Twins in the past twenty years. Only Tom Eden’s 0.12 in 1992 bests the Duenslinger’s total. That’s your useless Tom Eden trivia for the year.

    Nick Blackburn’s 7.39 ERA as a starter in 2012 is tied with Jim Deshaies (1994) as the worst Twins ERA with a minimum of 90 innings pitched.

    On that note, if you are interested in reading more about the 2012 Twins team and how to improve the 2013 squad, Twins Daily now has the 2013 Offseason Handbook ready for pre-order. If you order now, you can save yourself some cash in the process.
    This article was originally published in blog: Did you know? started by Parker Hageman
    Comments 7 Comments
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      Parker, what do you make of the increase in Mauer's strike-out rate?

      I thought yesterday that it was both SO and BB but the walks are probably within a statistical norm given the number of PA.

      But 88 strikeouts in 641 PA is 13.7%. Higher than in any of his other seasons by at least 2% (and more than some others).

      Did you see anything that leads you to any conclusions as to why this happened?

      Or is it simply something as simple as Umpires no longer giving him the benefit of the doubt?
    1. Parker Hageman's Avatar
      Parker Hageman -
      There more that goes in but I would connect it to his low swing rate. He struck out looking in 25% of his strikeouts - his highest rate in his last five years. I'd have to dig deeper in to his two-strike pitch breakdown to see if pitchers are doing anything different in their approach in those circumstances.
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      Thanks.
    1. joelindell's Avatar
      joelindell -
      His strikeout rate went up by 2.3%, but his walk rate went up 4.4%. In other words, if he had played 147 games last season, he would have finished with 57 walks and 68 strikeouts. This year, in 147 games, he had 90 walks and 88 strikeouts. He took more pitches and he got 33 additional walks and struck out 20 more times. This helped raise his OBP to a major league best .416 (from .360 in 2011).
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      I was looking at this from an historical perspective not just 2011 to 2012 -- and only looked at 2005-2012 ignoring his partial season in 2004.

      In comparing BB/PA in 2012, Mauer walked 90 times in 641 appearances -- 14% of the time. This was his highest walk rate ever but in 2008, he walked 13.27% of the time so I didn't think that the increase this year was out of line statistically.

      But on SO/PA, Mauer struck out 88 times in 641 appearances or 13.7% of the time. Prior to this, he averaged SOs in 9.9% of appearances with the highest rate prior to this year being 11.55% in 2005 followed by 11.41% in 2011. (His average SO rate is lower than it would be if you took the mean, I think, because he had incredibly low SO rates in 2006 & 2008 -- about 8%).

      So I still see the jump in SO to be more significant than the increase in walks. Yes the walks are somewhat higher than in previous seasons but the increase isn't as significant as the increase in his SO rate.

      Also, 2011 really was an anomoly for him because his SO rate was significantly higher than his walk rate -- the only year in which that happened. He turned that around in 2012 but his SO rate this year (13.7%) is basically 18% higher than his prior highest SO rate (11.6%).

      That's why I wondered what Parker saw happening here.
    1. mgraves's Avatar
      mgraves -
      I am a Joe Mauer fan, but I find his ISO to be terrifyingly low (.127). It recovered from last year, but is still below his career average (.145). I had thought he could wind up (if moved to 1B) being an overpaid Mark Grace (but with intangibles, e.g. ticket and jersey sales, not disturbingly so), but Mark Grace had a lower K rate and a career ISO greater than Mauer's ISOs the last two years (.139, virtually equivalent to Mauer's 2010 of .141).

      What any of this means, I am unsure, but the extent to which a C/1B can sustain a BABIP of .345 is doubtful. Mauer doesn't really have any easy comparisons, so trying to guess at a career trend line is a mostly useless exercise. I am, however, concerned about the increased K rate, decreased ISO, and Spanian GB rate.
    1. h2oface's Avatar
      h2oface -
      fun, informative, and at times funny piece. thanks much.
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