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  • The Big Switch: Jared Burton

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    Sometimes it's an overlooked performance that is a game's BigSwitch. Last Tuesday night's back-and-forth win over the Padres contained splashier performances, but believe it or not, the player with the biggest impact wasTwins reliever Jared Burton. That's why he's this week's Big Switch.

    But since we're still above the preview line, let's talk about the splashy. The headlines and morning radio focused on Kurt Suzuki's inside-the-park home run. In case you missed it, Suzuki hit a home ruin n the eighth inning that barely cleared the wall in left field but bounced back into play. The outfielder thought it was a home run (and you can see him signaling so) but it wasn't ruled that way initially. To Suzuki's credit, he trucked around the bases at full speed making the point moot and scored anyway. Because he did, the play did not need to be reviewed, so Suzuki was credited with an inside-the-park home run instead of a standard home run, making it the first inside-the-park home run for the Twins since 2007 when it was done by another catcher: Joe Mauer.


    The Twins are looking to switch things around this year. Every week, Metro Transit recognizes a Twins player who successfully switched the outcome of a game for the better.

    But that run was ultimately not the deciding run. It was important. We've talked about FanGraphs.com's excellent game graphs that track a team's probability of winning a game based on thousands of game logs before. That hit by Suzuki halved the Padres chances of coming back, which is fitting because it doubled the Twins lead from 4-3 to 5-3.

    But had Burton not been around the half-inning before, there might not have been a lead to double, and FanGraph's charts show that, too.

    The Twins had grabbed a 4-3 lead the inning before on a sacrifice fly by Josmil Pinto. Brian Duensing started the bottom of the seventh inning, replacing Twins starting pitcher Kevin Correia, who was in line for the "Win." But Duensing immediately put that win - both for the team and Correia - in jeopardy. Jedd Gyorko led off with a single, Duensing walked Yonder Alonso, and the Padres simply had to adopt a "get-em-over, get-em-in" strategy to tie up the game.

    The FanGraph's play log shows the game slipping away, too. In fact, when Duensing was pulled for Burton, despite trailing, the Padres were statistically favored with a 52% chance to win. Or, more precisely, a home team with runners on first base and second base and no outs, trailing by one run in the bottom of the seventh, have historically won the game 52% of the time.

    But the tying run didn't score and, in fact, didn't even advance. After retiring Cameron Maybin on a fly ball to center field, Nick Hundley on a pop foul to third and Chris Denorfia on a ground ball, the Padres' chances to win that game were down to 22%. In getting those three crucial outs, Burton increased his team's chances of winning that game by an astounding 30%. No player on either team affected the game more.

    It was also another step on the road back towards dominance for Burton.He struggled a bit in spring training and his first two weeks of the regular season were a nightmare. After a four-run outing against Toronto, his ERA stood at 14.40. He had given up runs in three of his five appearances and was demoted out of the eighth inning setup role to work lower leverage innings.

    But the seventh inning on Tuesday was not a lower leverage inning and Burton responded. He mostly has responded ever since the early season issues. Over his last 15 outings he has posted a 1.88 ERA, given up just 10 hits and has struck out 10 batters.

    But first impressions last. Twins fans may be overlooking that Burton appears to have switched the direction of his season. Just as he switched the direction of Tuesday night's win.


    Speaking things we might have overlooked, why drive yourself home after a Twins game when it means fighting traffic and paying for parking? Say 'Switch My Trip' for the next Twins game. Metro Transit can provide you and your whole family a train ride to the game. Planning your trip is as easy as clicking on this link.
    Comments 13 Comments
    1. Paul Pleiss's Avatar
      Paul Pleiss -
      I can't get behind Jarod Burton. I think it's time the Twins sent him down and brough up some youth. He might be rebounding from some early season trouble that saw his ERA balloon, but I don't think he's made the switch, at least not for the long term. Cut bait~
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      It was foolish to extend him into this season prior to 2013. They had him under team control through last year. They don't need to extend him.
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      I could see the Twins extend him another 2 seasons after this one if he is interested and he remains solid the rest of the season. I don't see a huge offer maybe 5-7 million for 2 seasons tops. I realize we have depth here, but you can never have too much pitching.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brandon View Post
      I could see the Twins extend him another 2 seasons after this one if he is interested and he remains solid the rest of the season. I don't see a huge offer maybe 5-7 million for 2 seasons tops. I realize we have depth here, but you can never have too much pitching.
      You can have too many mediocre pitchers in decline.
    1. Trevor0333's Avatar
      Trevor0333 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brandon View Post
      I could see the Twins extend him another 2 seasons after this one if he is interested and he remains solid the rest of the season. I don't see a huge offer maybe 5-7 million for 2 seasons tops. I realize we have depth here, but you can never have too much pitching.
      Perkins doesn't even make that. Burton, Duensing, & their combined 5 mill will def be off the books next year.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Don't extend him, but he's been terrific. He's got a long track record. It's always strange to me how quickly people give up on guys with track record.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      Comparing numbers that stabilize at smaller sample, there has been a decline.

      2011 K%=22.5% BB%=6.5%
      2013 K%=16.3% BB%=11.3%

      A decline isn't unusual for a 33 year old reliever with a long track record. The Twins should have anticipated it. You don't get to be a 33 year old reliever without a long track record of good performance.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      The best outcome is that he continues to be very good and the Twins can shop him at the deadline (even as "buyers" he would be a likely tradeable asset).
    1. Paul Pleiss's Avatar
      Paul Pleiss -
      Today's outing goes to show that you can't just cherry pick stats to make a player look good. Yes, Burton had a nice stretch after an afwul start, but that awful start is part of who he is as a player. And we're seeing him be ineffective again today. Jarod Burton, stick a fork in this guy.
    1. h2oface's Avatar
      h2oface -
      Quote Originally Posted by Paul Pleiss View Post
      Today's outing goes to show that you can't just cherry pick stats to make a player look good. Yes, Burton had a nice stretch after an awful start, but that awful start is part of who he is as a player. And we're seeing him be ineffective again today. Jared Burton, stick a fork in this guy.
      sorry........system error......... the edit created a new post..........
    1. Paul Pleiss's Avatar
      Paul Pleiss -
      A Lament

      By Percy Bysshe Shelley 1792–1822
      Retold by Paul Pleiss
      O world! O life! O time!
      On whose last steps JB doth climb,
      Trembling at that where he had stood 66ft 6in before;
      When will return the glory of your prime?
      No more—Oh, never more!

      Out of the day and night
      A joy has taken flight;
      Fresh spring, and summer, and winter hoar,
      Move my faint heart with grief, but with delight
      No more—Oh, never more!
    1. h2oface's Avatar
      h2oface -
      Quote Originally Posted by Paul Pleiss View Post
      Today's outing goes to show that you can't just cherry pick stats to make a player look good. Yes, Burton had a nice stretch after an awful start, but that awful start is part of who he is as a player. And we're seeing him be ineffective again today. Jared Burton, stick a fork in this guy.
      The bad luck article?
      So true. He was given opportunity after opportunity to reel it in. And things where looking hopeful again and fans were waxing for the return to the season that Burton "earned" his contract. Totally ineffective today, and then allowed to finish the inning. While it is part of a managers job to notice trends and use them, (no, really! I see it all over the league and quickly, just not here) a player doesn't get to throw away parts of his performance that makes him look bad. Yeah...... that happened, too. Today, he was totally hittable, and giving up 3 in the 8th is a recipe for the blowout.
    1. Paul Pleiss's Avatar
      Paul Pleiss -
      Oh, Jarod Burton and the 6+ ERA, he sounds like the right guy to put in against an offense that he surrendered 3+ runs to in his last implosion of an outing... Great work JB!
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