#### Projecting the Twins Starting Pitching Upgrade in 2014

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, 02-13-2014 at 03:50 PM (975 Views)

PythagorasThe polar vortex seems to have abated but I’m still left cold when I think about the Twins winning only 66 games last year, pairing a frozen offense with a starting rotation that compiled an ERA so far north of 5.00 that Robert Peary should have led an expedition to it. In an effort to warm their fans’ waning interest, Minnesota uncharacteristically spent a real chunk of money in the off season (okay, it was the additional MLB TV money chunk) to acquire free agents Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes and re-sign Mike Pelfrey.

My question is: What does that additional chunk of MLB TV money get us?

To answer it, I attempted to quantify the changes to the starting pitching staff into runs allowed and then plug the new totals into the Pythagorean calculator – the elegant Bill James equation that estimates winning percentage based on runs scored and runs allowed.

Example:

The Twins scored 614 runs and gave up 788 on their way to those 66 wins last year. The Pythagorean calculation with those numbers looks like this:

(614 ^ 1.83)/((614 ^ 1.83) + (788 ^ 1.83))

The final result from above produces a winning percentage of .388 – which would translate to 62.8 wins in a 162 game season. In the Pythagorean view, this means the Twins won a couple more games than expected given the respective run totals.

How to quantify the change in runs? This is by no means detailed or precise. More of a ballpark estimate, if you will. I looked at the career averages per 162 innings for our new pitchers and assumed those as somewhat rough and slightly optimistic estimates for 2014 even though I expect Nolasco to have a bit of a fall-off from his averages pitching in the A.L. His averages were 202 innings and 106 runs allowed – so that’s what I took. Hughes has averaged 169 innings and 91 runs, Pelfrey 198 innings and 105 runs, Correia 167 innings and 88 runs. The remaining innings to be pitched by starters in 2014 I estimated based on the average performance of the holdovers from last year such as Diamond, Deduno, and Gibson – removing the numbers from the likes of Hendricks, Worley, Albers, and De Vries. I assume this collective remaining group fills out the rest of the starts with an ERA close to 5.00.

The result of all this is that I expect the starting pitchers to pitch an additional 75 innings compared to last year and to give up around 40 fewer runs. (42, actually, with an ERA around 4.8) If we assume the relief corps pitches to the same standards as last year, with 75 fewer innings worked, they’ll give up about 30 fewer runs. (30.5) My net result is areduction of 73 runs allowed.

If we run the Pythagorean equation again with the new runs allowed,

(614 ^ 1.83)/((614 ^ 1.83) + (715 ^ 1.83))

The Twins winning percentage improves to .431 which is a70-win seasonor about 7 wins more than the Pythagorean estimate with the actual numbers. This is with the assumption of the same dilapidated offense as last year. It will take about 50 more runs scored to get to 75 wins. Is that in the realm of possibility? Stay tuned.