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Projections have Twins headed for fourth-straight 90-loss season

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#1 Parker Hageman

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 01:52 PM

Clay Davenport, a co-founder of Baseball Prospectus, has released his initial projections for the 2014 season and, ooh boy, the Twins are not faring well. According to his calculations, the Twins will finish the year in last in the AL Central and, once again, lose 90 games.

http://claydavenport.../PROJHOME.shtml

How is that possible?

Offensively, Davenport expects the Twins to score just 669 runs – the lowest in the American League. Among those his system does not favor includes Kurt Suzuki (.233/.295/.350) as well as heavy regression for Joe Mauer (from an OPS of 880 to 765). Positively, his projections show Josh Willingham and Oswaldo Arica taking significant steps forward.

On the other side of the ball, the projections suggest that the Twins will allow 752 runs – the second-highest total in the American League. As far as the pitching goes, the current four horsemen of the Twins rotation – Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes, Mike Pelfrey and Kevin Correia – are estimated to go 34-46 with a 4.45 ERA.

The Twins have been vocal in saying that they are not finished shopping for the offseason so the projection could change but, as of right now, math is not in their corner.

#2 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 01:55 PM

as well as heavy regression for Joe Mauer (from an OPS of 880 to 765)


While it's definitely not out of the realm of possibility to lose 90 games again, this prediction is just absurd. A one-armed version of Joe Mauer could probably OPS around .750. Bi-lateral "omg there are rumors he might die tomorrow" weakness Joe Mauer posted an OPS of .730.

It's pretty hard to take anything he's saying seriously when there's something so completely insane mixed in with the other, more valid, points.

#3 JB_Iowa

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 01:59 PM

Other than lingering concussion symptoms (which don't really seem to exist), does he give any reason for the Mauer drop?

I just don't see it happening (and heaven knows i haven't been Mauer's biggest fan).

#4 Boom Boom

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 02:08 PM

Losing 90 again wouldn't surprise me, and I do expect the Twins offense to be ratty, at best. Someone will need to explain to me how Mauer will fall off a cliff offensively, though.

#5 B Richard

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 02:08 PM

I know this is shallow but everything he says is discredited by that .765 OPS for Mauer. Absurd
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#6 Parker Hageman

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 02:14 PM

Mauer's injury seasons play a substantial role in his projection along with, I assume, the aging comparable players:

Run a computerized projection scheme, using the last three years of player performance compared against a database of all players’ four year performances. The algorithm attempts to find the most similar players, in terms of age, position, build, and performance, and the top 20 players are noted on the individual player cards.


Still, I can't see Mauer finishing anywhere south of 800.

#7 JB_Iowa

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 02:14 PM

The only thing I can think of is that it isn't really a comment on Mauer but a comment on what Mauer can do given the dreck surrounding him.

#8 SpitefulRabbit617

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 02:16 PM

Was this written in Washington state or in Colorado? TOKE TOKE TOKE

#9 TheLeviathan

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 02:17 PM

The dip appears to be batting average driven, for whatever reason.

72 wins is about right from where I sit, maybe closer to 75.

#10 TwinChargers

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 02:22 PM

Yeah, Mauer having his statistically worst (healthy) year after moving to a less demanding position doesn't make a ton of sense.

What is also troubling is our biggest power threat hits only 20 HRs and we don't have a base stealer that can swipe more than 12 bases. Lets hope Terry Ryan isn't done yet!

#11 iTwins

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 02:24 PM

Well, it's certainly possible - but I don't think it's likely. With the team as it currently stands (which I don't believe is finished yet, perhaps it's wishful thinking, but I still think another FA is coming) I think they'll win close to 75 games.

The Mauer OPS drop seems harsh (and a bit unfounded). All the starting staff has to do is be league average and the team should bump into the 73-75 win range. If a few offensive pieces click (Willingham bounce back, a full season of good Plouffe, Arcia getting hot or Hicks having a 2013 Dozier-like resurgence, for example) and this team could battle for .500

#12 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 02:24 PM

What is also troubling is our biggest power threat hits only 20 HRs and we don't have a base stealer that can swipe more than 12 bases.


The first part is an issue. The second part, eh, not so much. Great basestealers help their team considerably but most basestealers do nearly as much damage as good by giving the other team free outs 30% or more of the time.

#13 Pius Jefferson

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 02:29 PM

The only thing I can think of is that it isn't really a comment on Mauer but a comment on what Mauer can do given the dreck surrounding him.


I don't see how the dreck is going to hurt his on-base and batting average. The two things that Mauer does well at the plate.

#14 JB_Iowa

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 02:43 PM

I don't see how the dreck is going to hurt his on-base and batting average. The two things that Mauer does well at the plate.


Just thinking in terms of pitching around him (even more so than last year) -- I can see his walks going up but doubles going down.

#15 Kwak

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 02:59 PM

It seems to me people are more upset with a projection of a sub-par Mauer season than with another 90 loss season for the Twins. Without knowing the algorithm used I find it difficult to evaluate his projections. I suspect that team HRs are weighted quite heavily--which penalizes the Twins accordingly. There hasn't been many changes in the Twins hitters to suggest a significant increase in runs scored, and projecting huge improvements from young hitters isn't something I would expect to find in a computer-generated model. Therefore, while many Twins fans expect to see the young hitters make vast improvement in hitting/scoring a that is not something to be expected in a projection-model.

#16 Dman

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 03:04 PM

Unless he see's defensive shifts affecting Mauer or an odd injury that forces him to bat right handed, I can't see one of the best batters in baseball doing worse while at 1st base. Maybe with his new twins keeping him up at night he will be too tired to play baseball? The guy has been a rock when healthy since he came into the league. That OPS is a bold prediction and one I would never bet on.

#17 Monkeypaws

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 03:12 PM

•No real leadoff hitter
•No real cleanup hitter
•Weak bottom of the order
•Lots of guys prone to strikeouts
•General lack of clutch hitting

Those were the problems that plagued the Twins last season. We dropped Morneau and added Suzuki and Kubel.

Unless guys like Hicks, Arcia, and Plouffe step up to a higher level, there isn't much to be optimistic about offensively.

#18 Jdosen

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 03:18 PM

I agree with everyone that the Mauer projection doesn't seem very realistic, but I've read numerous places that these projection systems spit out very conservative estimates for aging players, and Mauer is on the wrong side of 30, so he fits that mold. That being said, I would be shocked if that particular projection was correct.

In regards to the team projection, I just don't see how the roster as currently constructed can win 73 games or more and thus avoid losing 90 games again. For this team to even sniff .500, I think a lot of things would have to break the Twins way, including Sano, Meyer, Pinto, Hicks, and maybe even Buxton coming up and being good right away, Dozier not regressing, the free agent pitchers we signed living up to and even exceeding expectations, and having everyone stay healthy. There are just too many question marks in the lineup on Opening Day for me to be very optimistic about the 2014 season in a vacuum (Suzuki, Dozier, Florimon, Plouffe, etc.--basically every position player besides Joe Mauer).
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#19 Thrylos

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 03:29 PM

Those things are not to be taken seriously and are heavily influenced by previous seasons' record.

Here are BP's projections for the AL Central in 2011.

Guess which team their projections had to win the division?
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#20 h2oface

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 03:29 PM

Everyone is entitled to their own predictions. I really wouldn't be surprised to see the Twins lose 90 again, especially if the pitchers that Ryan signed continue to perform like they have instead of how they all hope to. I predict just the opposite for Joe Mauer. I think he will finally put on his big boy pants and use his size and strength. By having fresher and stronger legs under him from playing first base, he will start hitting the ball about 10 to 15 feet farther, and have an OPS above 1.000, hit 30 to 40 homers, and become a well rounded hitter that can use his "perfect stroke" to hit it out instead of collecting another double. I just think he can evolve, and surprise everyone as he starts his second career at first.

#21 S.

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 03:50 PM

he will start hitting the ball about 10 to 15 feet farther, and have an OPS above 1.000, hit 30 to 40 homers

I mean, yeah, that'd be sweet and all, but lets be realistic here. He's hit 32 HRs in the last 4 years combined, never once hit above 30 in a season (28 in 2009, but most besides that is 13 in 06 - 8 years ago), only OPS'd above 900 twice (one of those being the 2009 outlier and the other also in 2006). What you're suggesting is basically that Mauer is going to turn into the Minnesota Miguel Cabrera, if you're expecting his HR power to suddenly triple to quadruple and his OBP and BA to stay at all similar to his career norms.

#22 Oxtung

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 03:59 PM

re:Mauer's projection

We don't know what projection system he is using to derive his predictions. Some of them emphasize regression to the mean very significantly. Beyond that there are some very good reasons that he is projecting Joe to have a down year.

First, as others have said, Joe is being compared to other 31 year olds who are entering their decline phase. Second, Joe's injury plagued year when he OPS'd .729 is being included in the data that drove the prediction, that is surely going to cause a regression to his statistics. Third, Joe had a high BABIP, it was .383 last season (.300 is about average) and a regression to the mean looks to be in order causing all of his stats to suffer. Fourth, Joe's K% has been steadily increasing over the last 3 years, from 11% to 18%.

It really isn't surprising that the math predicts Mauer to significantly regress considering the inputs.

#23 SweetOne69

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 04:06 PM

re:Mauer's projection

We don't know what projection system he is using to derive his predictions. Some of them emphasize regression to the mean very significantly. Beyond that there are some very good reasons that he is projecting Joe to have a down year.

First, as others have said, Joe is being compared to other 31 year olds who are entering their decline phase. Second, Joe's injury plagued year when he OPS'd .729 is being included in the data that drove the prediction, that is surely going to cause a regression to his statistics. Third, Joe had a high BABIP, it was .383 last season (.300 is about average) and a regression to the mean looks to be in order causing all of his stats to suffer. Fourth, Joe's K% has been steadily increasing over the last 3 years, from 11% to 18%.

It really isn't surprising that the math predicts Mauer to significantly regress considering the inputs.


While .300 may be average, Mauer has a career average of .349 for BABIP. In fact he has never been below .300 and the only time he was .300 was his rookie season. Other than that his low is .319, which he did twice.

Since Mauer doesn't hit a lot of home Runs or Strike Out, he will have a high BABIP as those are the "negatives" in the formula.

#24 dakotanative

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 04:06 PM

I have a hard time swallowing projections like this. In a 100 years I cannot imagine Mauer going backwards in OPS. It anything manning 1st base should result in beefed up numbers all around. We will be seeing greater productivity from Plouffe, Floriman, Dozier, Hicks, Arcia etc. this year. It is Tom Kelly's maxim that a hitter needed 1500 to 2000 ABs before they hit their stride. We will see if that is true with these players. I would love to see Sano, Buxton and Meyer make the team sometime this year. I see having a great outfield defense with Hicks and Buxton out there sometime this year. I see their pitchers reaping some benefit from an improved defense. How much? Let's say 5% to 8%. I see our starting pitchers going deeper into their starts and less wear and tear on the bullpen. Now will all of this result in a winning season? Beats me! I do think they will win 74-77 games. I see 2014 setting the stage for 2015 when we will see a more mature Twins team on the field with Pinto, Sano, Buxton, Arcia and Hicks as fulltime players and maybe Rosario is on the team in some role. We should also see Meyers, Gibson and May playing larger roles. This team has more potential talent than the 1982-1986 teams that won two World Series and we have front row seats in watching them mature and realize their potential. I cannot wait for the day when the rest of the talent has arrived like Thorpe, and Berrios and Kepler and Santana. I will enjoy watching them stick it to the Yankees and the American League East. I have friends who are Yankee fans who have been rubbing it in for the past ten+ years and it is time they got what they have coming to them. I will just sit back and smile.

Edited by dakotanative, 27 January 2014 - 04:09 PM.
typo


#25 DJL44

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 04:22 PM

Look at the same system's conservative projections for Miguel Cabrera. This system doesn't predict anyone to be a star.

The concern in the projections is pitching. They spent an awful large amount of money to tread water.

#26 Halsey Hall

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 04:41 PM

I see 2014 setting the stage for 2015 when we will see a more mature Twins team on the field with Pinto, Sano, Buxton, Arcia and Hicks as fulltime players and maybe Rosario is on the team in some role. We should also see Meyers, Gibson and May playing larger roles.


The team won't be more mature with those guys, but more fun to watch. I can easily see 90 losses this season the way it sits and am hoping Sano makes it out of spring training, along with Pinto and Arcia, Buxton joins in June with perhaps Meyer, and Hicks sometime this year. 90 losses would be easier to take with the young guys as to the same o, same o as the last few years.

#27 VandyTwinsFan

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 04:51 PM

The concern in the projections is pitching. They spent an awful large amount of money to tread water.


By "tread water" do you mean "barely stay alive" or "comfortably keep oneself from drowning?" Last year was more of the former and I'm hoping this year is more of the latter.

#28 Steve Lein

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 04:53 PM

So outside of his injury riddled season, he expects Mauer to have his worst season ever after moving from catcher to 1B?!

Count me in the corner of those who finds this laughable.
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#29 Oxtung

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 05:36 PM

While .300 may be average, Mauer has a career average of .349 for BABIP. In fact he has never been below .300 and the only time he was .300 was his rookie season. Other than that his low is .319, which he did twice.

Since Mauer doesn't hit a lot of home Runs or Strike Out, he will have a high BABIP as those are the "negatives" in the formula.


Yup, but all a projection system is going to see is that absurdly high BABIP and determine that he is ripe for regression. Frankly after looking at it a little closer I think he is going to regress as well. Will he OPS .750? That's probably a bit severe but I also don't think he'll approach .900 either. His K% is very concerning at first glance and he isn't going to have a .383 BABIP this season again to help obscure his increasing contact problems (in comparison to his previous seasons). The good thing though is that his BB% remains very strong. It's also possible that he hits more home runs since he's not getting beat up as much.

#30 johnnydakota

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 05:51 PM

Fangraph has the Twins rotation ranked 28th as it sits now .....if the planets dont line up , it could be another 90+ loss season, just saying