Monday Morning Madness: May 19, 2014
by, 05-19-2014 at 06:49 AM (365 Views)
Originally posted at Kevin Slowey was Framed!
I'm happy with two of three when the one the Twins lost was at the hands of Felix Hernandez. The Twins looked good this weekend and winning two of every three is a great way to win over 90 games. Not saying that will happen, but...it will probably happen.
I'm two for two on mini-rants! Two weeks ago, I called for more Danny Santana and I got it (until I was hamstrung. get it?!?!). Last week, I called for more Pinto. Pinto has played in three of the last five games and I hope that trend continues. Actually, no, that trend sucks. He needs to play more than 60% of the time. He needs to play closer to 90% of the games or else his roster spot is kind of a waste. Of course, Chris Herrmann's promotion would have normally ensured more playing time, but the Twins won't have a DH all week. So that sucks.
Pinto is the Twins' third best hitter right now. By OPS+, he's actually been better than Joe Mauer and he only trails "Superstar" Brian Dozier. Pinto will be up and down because he's a rookie and he has a lot to learn, but he's going to help the lineup more than he ever hurts it. I watch his approach at the plate, his level swing and his power and I really think he might hit .300 in the future. Talking about batting average will get my smart baseball card taken away, but I still think that's an impressive feat.
Aaron Hicks is hitting better (he couldn't be any worse) and I'm pleased. His walk-off hit on Thursday may have been a spark to his confidence, but I can't really say that for certain. He raised his average to nearly .200 this weekend. I hope that Hicks' average continues to rise, but I think it is still important to keep some perspective in regards to his ceiling.
I always envisioned Hicks as a .250 or .260 hitter at best. That isn't outstanding, but I also thought he would walk enough to post OBPs in the .350 range. That is very good. In fact, a .350 OBP would have been 45th in the Majors last season. Even in a dreadful 2014 season, Hicks has a walk rate around 18%, which would be in the top ten in the Majors. You can say that he's walking because he's being passive and that is definitely part of it. The other part is that he has a good eye for the strike zone. However, it may be that he's still learning the MLB strike zone right now. Here's a chart:
O-Swing% is the percentage of pitches a batter swings at outside the strike zone. Z-Swing% is the percentage of pitches a batter swings at inside the strike zone. Swing% seems pretty self-explanatory and Z-Contact% is the percentage of times a batter makes contact when swinging at pitches inside the strike zone.
Actual Pitchf/x O-Swing% Z-Swing% Swing% Z-Contact% O-Swing% Z-Swing% Swing% Z-Contact% 2013 22.50% 61.30% 39.90% 83.10% 22.10% 55.50% 39.70% 82.50% 2014 17.50% 54.90% 35.10% 88.60% 16.70% 54.70% 35.00% 90.60%
So, Hicks is swinging less. However, some of that comes from swinging at significantly fewer pitches outside of the zone (a good thing). Of course, some comes from swinging at fewer pitches within the strike zone (not so good). While he is swinging less, he is making much better contact on pitches in the zone. Last year, he swung at more pitches in the zone, but made less contact. Now, he's being more selective and making more contact. It hasn't worked all that well for him just yet, but that type of approach could pay off as he gains experience.
For the record, his O-Swing% would have been in the top five in the Majors last season, if Hicks had qualified. Hicks clearly owns at least one elite skill that has translated to the Majors.
If he can continue to improve his plate discipline (being more aggressive when getting good pitches), he could settle in as that .350 OBP center fielder that would be very valuable. His line drive rate is up and he's hitting fewer fly balls (good with his speed). His walk rate is way up and he's actually striking out less often. He's making minor strides and I hope they start to pay off for him.
Some chucklehead on Facebook had the nerve to point out that nine of Brian Dozier's home runs have been solo home runs and then he added "#not clutch" just to further prove that he's a chucklehead.
- Dozier has six home runs when leading off an inning, should he have asked to not lead off those innings, chucklehead?
- Dozier is hitting .275/.385/.500 with runners in scoring position. That looks pretty good to me, what do you think, chucklehead?
- Dozier's OWn% (a stat that looks at what a team's winning percentage would be with a team full of just that player, a stat my brother told me about this weekend, a stat that is awesome) is .693. Basically, a team full of Brian Dozier's would win 112 games with his 2014 production. Is 112 wins good, chucklehead?
This one goes out to all the chuckleheads out there: if you can't enjoy Brian Dozier's 2014 season, then you should probably give up being a fan. You'll never be satisfied.
Former Twin Update - Bronson Arroyo
Oh wait, he's not a former Twin at all. This past offseason, it seemed almost inevitable that Arroyo would sign with the Twins. First, he was a perfect fit. He's a veteran and veteraniness is very important in the Twins' clubhouse. Second, he "pitched to contact" and limited walks. It seemed like a match made in heaven. The Twins signed Mike Pelfrey. Arroyo took his grit to Arizona instead. Boo. Arroyo started slow and had a 9.95 ERA after his first three starts. He's been great since then. His ERA is down to 4.15 and he's doing that weird leg kick thing that leads to cool baseball cards like this one:
See, the leg kick is so great, it can turn the whole world silver.
Good Deed of the Week
Glen Perkins is a notoriously nice person. Or at least that's how it seems on Twitter. He's from Minnesota, so you know he's great. Anyway, with Aaron Hicks' confidence reaching a low (probably) and Hicks getting questioned by pretty much all of his bosses, Perkins did the nice thing and blew a save on Thursday so that Hicks could come up later and win the game with a walk-off hit. That is the kind of good deed that only a Minnesotan would ever think to do. If Perkins had been born just a few miles East in Hudson, Wisconsin, he'd have probably just eaten a bunch of cheese curds or something.
Just kidding Minnesota and Wisconsin are basically the same place.
My most recent poll ended last week. I wondered who you thought would hit at least 20 home runs this season. This poll had 62 votes. Here are the results:
- Brian Dozier - 47 votes
- Josmil Pinto - 39 votes
- Joe Mauer - 2 votes
- Josh Willingham - 3 votes
- Chris Colabello - 19 votes
- Jason Kubel - 20 votes
- Oswaldo Arcia - 12 votes
- Trevor Plouffe - 20 votes
- Frank Stallone - 4 votes
Stallone beat Mauer. That's awesome. For the record, I only voted for Dozier and Pinto. I think Arcia will come close too, provided he comes back relatively soon. Kubel won't reach 5. I put up a new poll, please support democracy and vote immediately.
Random Baseball Card from the Past
I hate that card. Nothing personal against Funderburk (or Robidoux for that matter; great name). I hated cards that had two guys on two different teams. It made it impossible to sort by team. When you're a kid with baseball cards, you have to sort the cards a different way every day. Or was that just me? Anyway, when it was time to sort by team, these cards would really cheese me off. It was a real dilemma. I'd usually sort by the team I liked better or the player's team that I liked better. It was unsettling.
Why this specific card? Just wait until Friday. Suspense!
Plugging My Way
Last week, I completed a four-part look back at the past 8 years in Twins' center field history. With Aaron Hicks hitting a bit better this weekend, perhaps the tale will have a happy ending after all. If you didn't read this saga, here are links to each part:
- Part 1 - Torii Hunter leaves, Carlos Gomez arrives
- Part 2 - Goodbye Gomez, enjoy the Denard Span era
- Part 3 - Span and Ben Revere are traded, Aaron Hicks takesover
- Part 4 - Aaron Hicks flounders, what is the situation now?
5000 words on something you probably remember because it didn't happen that long ago. However, I might have hidden a secret code in one of the parts?!?! What if I did? You should probably read them just in case.
I'm really enjoying this team. Even if they go into the tank and fall off their current pace, I'll still enjoy watching this team. The younger guys on the team are fun to watch. Brian Dozier is a freaking superstar. The starting pitchers are more effective. Even though the Twins aren't as talented as other teams in the AL, they actually have some players who would be starting on any team. This is really starting to feel like the first step back in the right direction. I'm all jacked up. Have a nice week, everyone!