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Article: Where are the Twins at with statistical analysis?

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90 replies to this topic

#1 Parker Hageman

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 10:33 PM

You can view the page at http://twinsdaily.co...stical-analysis

#2 GoMNTwins

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 11:37 PM

This just reinforces my belief that the Twins are carrying beepers when the other teams are using smart phones.

#3 righty8383

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 12:28 AM

Interesting that I happen to come across this article as I'm watching Moneyball on demand.

#4 beckmt

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 12:48 AM

Wonderful article. Still you always will need the ground troops to evaluate people of the same level. How do they handle pressure? How are they in the clubhouse? Can the better players lead the clubhouse? These are not statistics, but qualities that need to be found out.

#5 ndtwinsfan

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 01:45 AM

This just reinforces my belief that the Twins are carrying beepers when the other teams are using smart phones.

good article though

#6 snepp

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 07:55 AM

It reads like Goin and this intern are the entire department, is that correct?
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#7 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 08:03 AM

Nice way to start off the New Year, Parker. Best article I've seen in awhile because the team is so tight-lipped about their evaluation tools.

#8 JB_Iowa

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 08:51 AM

Thanks for the insight, Parker. And thanks to Mr. Goin for talking with you.

Mr. Goin and his intern may be very good at what they do -- the question is how much weight the "powers that be" give to their analysis (especially if the powers-that-be don't want to hear the analysis only want a capsulized result). I would hope, though, that if the results of their research are fruitful, they may gain a larger placehold within the organization.

#9 Andrew Bryz-Gornia

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 09:08 AM

This seems to agree with what I've been told by Dave St. Peter... the Twins believe they are middle of the road when it comes to advanced statistics.

One thing I had St. Peter tell me is that the organization does not want other teams to know what they use. He doesn't mind that the fans think this team's sabermetrics is counting home runs and looking at ERA, because he feels that if the team has an advantage, they are not going to broadcast it to the world a la Billy Beane and Moneyball.

#10 NealcpLA

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 09:23 AM

Great article...I was a little disappointed with the grammar in the headline. Not sure who is responsible for that but it should be, "Where Are the Twins with statistical analysis". The "at" is redundant and a really annoying misuse of language...Not normally something I'd mention in a comment but in a headline the error just jumps out at you....

#11 jay

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 09:43 AM

This just reinforces my belief that the Twins are carrying beepers when the other teams are using smart phones.


TR: Do you know if the hotel is beeper friendly? [What do you mean?] I'm not getting a sig' on my beeper.

Later, TR: You probably get this a lot. This isn't the real Caesar's Palace, is it? [What do you mean?] Did, ummm... Caesar live here? [No.] I didn't think so.

#12 Riverbrian

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 09:55 AM

Great article Parker!

At first blush... It seems that the department is too small. I say that with no idea how the department works exactly but yeah it seems that they would need a few more staffers because one guy and an intern would have to be getting overwhelmed with the mountains of data on the mountains of ball players across all organizations in and out of the professional ranks.

#13 nicksaviking

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 10:19 AM

I'm sure, just like with all large corporations, that dedicated intern has a ton of sway with the decision makers.

#14 Jim Crikket

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 10:36 AM

A guy like Goin has to have a lot of pressure on him. He needs more staff, but he's not going to get it until he proves his worth. He won't get more resources until his analysis has been "right" often enough that it gets noticed. That takes time.

#15 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 11:24 AM

A guy like Goin has to have a lot of pressure on him. He needs more staff, but he's not going to get it until he proves his worth. He won't get more resources until his analysis has been "right" often enough that it gets noticed. That takes time.


Which is completely and utterly ridiculous. When you're dealing with a team that (should be) spending $100m on payroll a year, it's a good idea to back up that investment with a couple of $50k/year employees to give you another avenue of analysis. The combined total for two employees of that type is 1/1000th of payroll, even less when you factor in the minor league players. If it works out, hire more employees to do a better job (or pay the existing employees more). But you're not going to see real results until you give them more than bubblegum and matchsticks for tools with the mission "build me an atomic bomb".

#16 Shane Wahl

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 11:39 AM

Kevin Correia. Who the hell is responsible for that?

#17 Shane Wahl

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 11:45 AM

Anyway, great article Parker. That provides insight into the vast statistical machine that is the Minnesota Twins! They can't even have multiple INTERNS involved here!?

#18 Jim Crikket

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 11:48 AM

Which is completely and utterly ridiculous. When you're dealing with a team that (should be) spending $100m on payroll a year, it's a good idea to back up that investment with a couple of $50k/year employees to give you another avenue of analysis. The combined total for two employees of that type is 1/1000th of payroll, even less when you factor in the minor league players. If it works out, hire more employees to do a better job (or pay the existing employees more). But you're not going to see real results until you give them more than bubblegum and matchsticks for tools with the mission "build me an atomic bomb".


I completely agree. I was just saying that the circumstances Goin finds himself in (though he probably knew what he was getting himself in to) present a real challenge. I don't think the Twins intentionally set him up to fail by limiting his resources, but they clearly aren't buying in yet, either. It's really tough to succeed in that kind of situation and almost impossible to do so quickly.
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#19 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 11:55 AM

I completely agree. I was just saying that the circumstances Goin finds himself in (though he probably knew what he was getting himself in to) present a real challenge. I don't think the Twins intentionally set him up to fail by limiting his resources, but they clearly aren't buying in yet, either. It's really tough to succeed in that kind of situation and almost impossible to do so quickly.


Oh, I wasn't suggesting that you were supporting the decision, Jim... Just pointing out that the thinking behind a decision like that is rather asinine.

#20 Shane Wahl

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 12:01 PM

Any guesses on who the pitcher (and his sinker) under scrutiny was?

B-Webb???????

#21 Willihammer

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 12:19 PM

Goin has expressed interest in affixing Pitch F/X cameras through the team’s affiliates to better capture their prospects’ developments. Of course, the cost of installation and an annual fee for having the system may prohibit this from becoming a reality.


How many other organizations have Pitchf/x in all their affiliate parks? It would seem something that owners, and players would agree on, to install Pitchf/x in as many minor league ballparks as possible and share all the data. That would allow orgs to cut down on scouting costs while allowing lesser known players to be more visible to other teams. Are the startup costs such a barrier, or what?

#22 Seth Stohs

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 12:36 PM

I'm actually completely comfortable with St. Peter's comments to you, ABG. I don't feel like the Twins owe it to anyone to give away their inside secrets. Just because Billy Beane was willing to let an author follow him around and see pretty much everything doesn't mean that's how it should be done. Don't get me wrong. I too want to know all of the inner workings of the front office, but it would be silly for them to do that.

I think it's silly to think that HR, RBI and ERA and Wins are all that the team looks at. If Goin was willing to talk about Pitch F/X, that likely means there are about a dozen or more things that he didn't want to talk about.

I won't pretend to understand the Correia signing, but I'm also not going to pretend I'm smarter than the people in the Twins front office either. I have to believe that they make their decisions based on many different factors, some statistical.

Maybe that's naive, and since they don't share their secrets it's obviously debatable with every transaction/decisions, but again, I have no problem with them keeping their secrets to themselves.

#23 Fire Dan Gladden

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 01:32 PM

I'm actually completely comfortable with St. Peter's comments to you, ABG. I don't feel like the Twins owe it to anyone to give away their inside secrets. Just because Billy Beane was willing to let an author follow him around and see pretty much everything doesn't mean that's how it should be done. Don't get me wrong. I too want to know all of the inner workings of the front office, but it would be silly for them to do that.

I think it's silly to think that HR, RBI and ERA and Wins are all that the team looks at. If Goin was willing to talk about Pitch F/X, that likely means there are about a dozen or more things that he didn't want to talk about.

I won't pretend to understand the Correia signing, but I'm also not going to pretend I'm smarter than the people in the Twins front office either. I have to believe that they make their decisions based on many different factors, some statistical.

Maybe that's naive, and since they don't share their secrets it's obviously debatable with every transaction/decisions, but again, I have no problem with them keeping their secrets to themselves.


And yet many people posting on TD seem to believe that TR only looks at HR, RBI, ERA, and Wins. If anybody out here really believes that, I have a bridge to sell them.

The article was interesting, but Seth hits it on the head about keeping secrets. We know of one guy with an assistant providing "statistical analysis" to the Twins. Do we really believe a business that size with only 2 guys providing this type of data? We have no clue what they really do in this area. Whatever his faults, TR is extremely intelligent. He could care less that the fans think him a country bumpkin. He would actually probably prefer it.

#24 Willihammer

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 01:55 PM

That Goin and his <strike>staff</strike> intern have to dumb down their analysis for the scouts and translate their findings into scoutting grades suggests that they are still relying primarily on the older model of evaluation. That they haven't invested in pitchf/x equipment in their affiliates suggests that implementing and expanding into new models isn't a priority. Heck, their recent history of pitching signings and extensions suggests at the very least that the decisionmakers don't value the same statistics that other front offices value, the Cardinals included.

#25 jorgenswest

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 02:58 PM

It is encouraging to know that they consider the new data including Pitch F/X.

Perhaps analysis led them to believe that pull hitters would be more effective at Target Field and signing Willingham followed the analysis.

Perhaps recent analysis has led them to see the value in power pitchers with the acquisition on May and Meyer.

Perhaps they have chosen to disregard the current research about the value of defense and defensive metrics. While the other teams strive to improve their defense, the Twins have loaded the roster with some of the poorest defenders in baseball in Willingham, Doumit, Plouffe and Parmelee. Their bats may make them look like a bargain. However if the Twins want to get back any value in trade, they have to find another team that doesn't value defense. Doumit and Willingham might be a tough sell to NL teams.

Perhaps analysis has led them to believe that Doumit and Willingham will not decline and instead maintain their current level of play through the end of their contracts in 2014.

Perhaps their analysis has led them to a gem and elite fielder in Florimon where no other team saw the value. No one wanted Mastroianni? The Twins see a starting center fielder and lead off hitter.

Many words have been written about the analysis that led them to the current construction of the starting rotation.

I hope that the Twins are correct. The fastest way out of this hole is to find contributing players among those rejected by other teams. Do you trust the Twins management to lead us out of the hole?

#26 Jim Crikket

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 03:01 PM

I think "dumbing it down" is perhaps a bit strong, but yeah... Goin does have to take the analysis and communicate the results in a way that Terry Ryan and others in senior management with the Twins understand. That's hardly unusual. My staff does the same thing for me because I don't understand all of the details of the analysis they do in their areas of expertise. Similarly, I take what's important and communicate it to my boss in ways he'll understand. If Ryan didn't need someone to translate the data in to ideas he can understand, he could simply run the data himself. The tough part isn't running data, it's figuring out what it means AND communicating the meaning to those who need it.

If Goin isn't very strong with those translation and communication skills, his difficult task becomes impossible.
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#27 drjim

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 05:54 PM

I generally think using statistical analysis when evaluating players is very overrated, especially by fans on chat boards. I found it interesting that the example he used was pitch f/x which doesn't strike me as stats per say but more of a way to enhance scouting analysis. Statistics at their best work to confirm or build upon what is noted through traditional scouting. I would be quite surprised if any team in baseball used statistics as a leader for analyzing players.

I don't really find the examples cited by people all that convincing in suggesting that the Twins are ignorant of stats when it comes to evaluating players, more that they are cheap, and only willing to spend a limited amount in free agency. This is of course a different issue.

To me, the area where the Twins should be more scrutinized is general strategy and use of assets. The example I would use is the draft. The team had a unique chance, based upon the amount of picks they had, to outspend all other teams significantly last draft but they chose to pass and leave some money on the table. The team wasn't cheap in the draft, they outspent every other team, but did miss an opportunity to spend more to acquire talent (perhaps by selecting some additional overslot guys after round 10). Other teams, such as Toronto/Boston/Houston seemed to be more strategic in how they allocated funds. The reason I think people are frustrated with the Twins is because they tend to be more conservative and methodical as opposed to some other teams that appear more progressive and creative. Both styles can be successful (the Twins had a pretty damn good run for a decade), but obviously one is generally more appealing to chat boards like this. There are strengths in the Twins way but it is not nearly as sexy.

After everything is stripped away it still comes down to evaluating talent. The Twins are conservative in statistical analysis but I think there is a lot of derp derp in the complaints. They use all information that they can, but probably trust their scouts above all else.
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#28 drjim

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 05:55 PM

As a side note I like that he cited the Cardinals as the example, they are model franchise in my mind.
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#29 Thrylos

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 05:56 PM

Any guesses on who the pitcher (and his sinker) under scrutiny was?

B-Webb???????


Pelfrey probably...


Interesting stuff.

The big question is: Who is in the driver's seat and who is in a supporting role:

- Are the scouts driving and the analytics people supporting them?
- Is it 50-50%?
- Are the analytics folks driving and the scouts supporting them?

Methinks that (based on the number of the staff - ie. the "dedication" of the organization to analytics - a guy and an intern-kid, compared to that of the number of scouts and the background of the people in the decision making positions) this is all for show: They got a guy because they did not want to be seen that they did not have one like the other organizations do. Unless they invest in it, data analytics capabilities do not grow on trees.

Edited by Thrylos, 02 January 2013 - 05:58 PM.

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#30 Alex

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 06:06 PM

This seems to agree with what I've been told by Dave St. Peter... the Twins believe they are middle of the road when it comes to advanced statistics.

One thing I had St. Peter tell me is that the organization does not want other teams to know what they use. He doesn't mind that the fans think this team's sabermetrics is counting home runs and looking at ERA, because he feels that if the team has an advantage, they are not going to broadcast it to the world a la Billy Beane and Moneyball.


I wouldn't mind this if this were in evidence by most of their moves. However, last year's presented a number of red flags in this area from the Jason Marquis signing (and now Correia) evaluation of players using spring training numbers (ex. Jeff Gray)....