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The Twins Way: The Worst Way?

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A couple weeks ago someone was talking to me about a local radio personality freaking out about playing "the Twins way" and how that needs to stop because "the Twins way is the worst way". That got me to thinking, are the Twins still playing "the Twins way"?

(Originally posted at Flyballs In Orbit.)

I've always thought of "the Twins way" as being "doing all the little things right." Things like running the bases, sacrificing runners over, not committing errors, throwing strikes and not walking batters.

For base running I decided to use fangraphs.com's Ultimate Base Running statistic. UBR uses linear weights to determine how much value a player gives (or loses) doing things like going first to third on a single, getting thrown out trying to stretch a hit, or advancing on a throw. It uses 0.0 as league average so a negative number is below average and positive is above. This is an individual stat so I may be using it out of context taking the team's UBR, but work with me here.

I'm not trying to say sacrifices are the best way to win games, but I am saying the Twins have always valued it as a skill and talked up their players being able to get it done.

We could get into a debate about errors if we wanted to, but again since that's what the Twins organization likes to talk up (instead of other more useful stats like UZR or TZL) that's what we'll use.

For pitching we're going to look at zone% (the percentage of all pitches thrown in the strike zone) and BB/9.

Below all the playoff teams' stats are in bold while all stats that were below league average (American league average in the case of sac hits) are italicized. (Also, I projected sac hits and errors to a full 162 game season.)

Year UBR SH E ZONE% BB/9
2002 1.8 33 74 57.4 2.73
2003 4.3 31 87 53.3 2.48
2004 -5.5 38 101 56.1 2.63
2005 -4.1 51 102 56.0 2.14
2006 10.1 52 84 54.6 2.23
2007 1.3 34 95 52.5 2.63
2008 17.8 31 108 53.6 2.50
2009 21.0 42 76 50.3 2.89
2010 -2.0 46 78 48.7 2.37
2011 -2.4 42 119 45.9 3.04
2012 3.6 34 107 45.4 2.91
2013 1.1 58 72 46.2 2.56
Conclusions:

  1. The Twins have not, as a team, run the bases well with any sort of consistency regardless of whether they were good that year or not.
  2. The Twins sacrifice A LOT! There were years (2005, 2006, 2009, 2010) when they sacrificed more than double the American league average. There were years when they sacrificed more than the major league average. That's crazy to me.
  3. Certainly pitching the Twins way has not changed at all.
  4. The past two years errors became an issue (also in 2008, which was not a playoff year, but still above .500), but improving that this year has not made a significant difference in overall team performance.
  5. Clearly four of these five categories strongly represent the Twins philosophy as they are consistently above average. But their record hasn't been nearly as consistent, especially the last couple years. It can't be the worst way, it helped contribute to six division titles in nine years. But there are obviously more important things that need to be focused on.
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Comments

  1. fairweather's Avatar
    The Twins way leaves something to be desired. Namely, A World Series Title. Either you're first or you're last. They should be focused on building a starting rotation that can give them a chance to win a world series should they reach the playoffs. Instead they build a team good enough to make the playoffs but they will never win once in the playoffs because you cannot pitch to contact against elite hitting teams! So in terms of playoffs success the Gardy/ traitor Terry/Twins Way is the worst. When it comes to beating crappy teams on the regular and MAKING the playoffs, it's pretty good.
  2. beckmt's Avatar
    I believe this above comment is unjustified as TR has gone to drafting pitchers with stuff. You still need some 4-5 rotation types for a while, but most of the Twins higher pitching prospects have swing and miss stuff. Now we hope they will work out, or TR may have to find another Johan is a trade.
  3. John Bonnes's Avatar
    The Twins have not, as a team, run the bases well with any sort of consistency regardless of whether they were good that year or not.

    I'm puzzled by this conclusion. Is "0" average? Ar the Twins not above average in eight of the 12 years? Or am I reading the data wrong?
  4. Badsmerf's Avatar
    What this data shows me, is that none of it is relevant to a winning team. The numbers are all over the board and shows no correlation with successful Twins teams vs. unsuccessful Twins teams. I get that the point of your blog is to highlight "Twins Way" stats, which I believe you did a good job doing. I'm a "Twins Way" hater though, I despise putting value and making big decisions on things are not pertinent to winning games. I think the "Twins Way" is something they just talk about now, which doesn't make me feel much better about it.
  5. corey's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by John Bonnes
    The Twins have not, as a team, run the bases well with any sort of consistency regardless of whether they were good that year or not.

    I'm puzzled by this conclusion. Is "0" average? Ar the Twins not above average in eight of the 12 years? Or am I reading the data wrong?
    That's a fair point. For consistency I was looking less at 8 of 12 years above average, and more at the well above average one year to below average the next like 09-10.
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