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Thread: Why Is Everyone So Worried About Willingham In Right Field?

  1. #1
    Owner All-Star John Bonnes's Avatar
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    Why Is Everyone So Worried About Willingham In Right Field?

    I gotta say, I'm a little taken aback by how much ink and breath I'm seeing wasted about why Josh Willingham shouldn't be playing right field. The primary argument seems to be: he hasn't played there much, so he probably shouldn't.

    C'mon. There are a couple of differences, to be sure. But tell me which of these are dealbreakers?
    - Right fielders generally need stronger arms, because they need to make a further throw to third base.
    - The ball curves toward the line a bit more, because it does so when being hit by right-handers. Left-fielders see the same thing when a left-handed batter hits the ball, but there are fewer left-handed hitters.
    - The size of the field can vary a lot depending on the park. In Target Field, left field is much larger.
    - Obviously, in Target Field, the ball can come off the wall in right field in tormenting ways.
    - There are more balls hit to left field.

    Unless Willingham has a crappy arm, which is highly doubtful considering he used to play catcher with the Marlins, there is no reason for him to be in left field. Even if he does, it can't be worse than Revere's.
    1. If he's out there w Revere and Span, he has nowhere near their range and should be in right field. Even for those who think Revere should play center (I don't, so long as Span is healthy), why the hell would you want Willingham in left field over Span?
    2. If he's out there w Plouffe, I guess it's debatable, since we don't know exactly how good Plouffe will be. If Plouffe is really bad, then sure, move Willingham back, especially because Plouffe should have a decent arm. I expect Plouffe to be pretty decent out there.
    3. If Span is out, then Revere is in center, which is just like #2.

    If Willingham is Ok with this, and he sounds like he is, why screw around with it?
    -

  2. #2
    Senior Member All-Star Jim Crikket's Avatar
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    John, you obviously have no understanding of how important it is for people to continuously find additional matters on which to second guess the Twins front office and field management. How can people demonstrate how much smarter they are than the people who actually make the decisions if we don't keep coming up with new "problems" to solve?
    I opine about the Twins and Kernels regularly at Knuckleballsblog.com while my alter ego, SD Buhr covers the Kernels for MetroSportsReport.com.

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    Owner MVP Seth Stohs's Avatar
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    I have no idea, John. I've thought Willingham in RF made the most sense the whole time.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Triple-A whydidnt's Avatar
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    I agree, don't see any reason why LF vs RF should make a huge difference. I know Target Field changes things, because of the size of LC field, but do know if you look at the rosters of NL clubs it seems they "hide" their worst fielding OF in Left, so I assume that for many teams they feel LF is easier to play than right. I thought Willingham was considered at least near average at fielding, so not sure what difference it makes, other than making sure he gets some time in RF to properly read the balls off bats and make the proper jump. Of all the things we should be concerned about with the Twins this year, where Willingham plays should be near the bottom IMO.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Big-Leaguer
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    Personally, I think the different surfaces of the wall in RF, the overhang, and the fact that it is on the south side of the stadium (and thus more likely to be in shadow) makes it the most difficult part of the OF at Target field to play. That's why I'd advocate that Span, who has spent more time at Target Field than Plouffe, Wilingham, and Revere combined, would be the best choice, at least to start. Willingham will already be forced to adjust to a new team, a totally new ballpark to hit in, and a significantly different climate (which can significantly impact how a ball reacts in flight). Do you really want him to also deal with all the quirks of Target Field's RF?

  6. #6
    Owner MVP Seth Stohs's Avatar
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    the quirks of Target Field will affect everyone. It's not like Span has played a lot of RF there. Speed, athleticism have little or nothing to do with playing RF at Target Field which is the reason that I think it makes sense. I want Revere and Span covering the ground of LF and RF.

  7. #7
    Senior Member All-Star Thrylos's Avatar
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    The only differences between playing RF and LF are:

    - the spin of the ball of the bat (goes the other way, so you have to track fly balls differently)
    - the spin of the ball on your throw (either to a cut off man or to home) has to be different
    - the other outfielders communicate from your other side (that's why Cuddyer could not play LF, because his left ear is deaf)
    - throws to third are longer from RF that LF.

    that's about it.
    I do not see a real reason why Willingham cannot play RF either, unless he has some issues we all do not know with those things. (And Delmon did, when the Twins' unfortunately moved him to LF)
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    Owner All-Star Parker Hageman's Avatar
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    Listening to the Rays broadcast of today's games, their radio team mentioned that the Rays had significant interest in Willingham but all their talent evaluators said that he is a DH not an outfielder.

    In terms of his actual arm strength, those who had followed him and rated it at the Fans Scouting Report suggest that his arm is decidedly average. In the past three seasons his arm scored a 45 (out of 100 possible) which was around the middle of the pack over all LFs with 1,000 innings. Nothing special but not a detriment.

  9. #9
    I also don't really understand the Will-I-Ham to RF kerfuffle. Generally, but especially in Target Field, you want your rangy-est OF's in left and Center. I know Josh has played LF so far, but it's also not uncommon for aging outfielders to move to right. Kirby did later in his career. I wouldn't say Willingham is "aging", but he certainly has the least range compared to Span and Revere.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Triple-A
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    John ,

    How did the Delmon Young experiment work out for the Twins? Young was a 22 year old athletic kid and he was unable to make the transition to left field. Willingham is 33, has struggled with injuries, and Gardenhire is going to move him to a brand new position. The best outfield alignment is Willingham/Revere/Span and it’s really not even close. However, Gardenhire is more concerned about how Span will react to the switch then what’s best for the team. Several reporters have commented on how stupid this move is, but Gardenhire is smarter than everyone. He is the worst manager in MLB. Willigham was terrible yesterday in right field by the way!!
    Last edited by Fanatic Jack; 03-04-2012 at 05:01 AM.

  11. #11
    Senior Member All-Star Thrylos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fanatic Jack View Post
    Willigham was terrible yesterday in right field by the way!!
    was he? were you in the game or was there video some place I missed?
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  12. #12
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    It should be WAY easier for Willingham to adjust to RF than it would be for Mauer to adjust to IB, 3B or OF, which I have seen a lot of people suggest. Though it was a small sample size, Joe looked good at first last year. Ergo, Willingham will adjust to RF nicely.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
    the quirks of Target Field will affect everyone. It's not like Span has played a lot of RF there. Speed, athleticism have little or nothing to do with playing RF at Target Field which is the reason that I think it makes sense. I want Revere and Span covering the ground of LF and RF.
    Would like to see Willingham play RF a few times before making a judgment. But I disagree with this point, Seth. Speed and athleticism play a big part in getting to balls and, even moreso, getting to balls that take a quirky bounce (see spidey and others above) or are misplayed. Hopefully, Willingham gets to everything, because the balls he doesn't get to seem likely to be triples or inside-the-parkers.

  14. #14
    Twins Moderator MVP USAFChief's Avatar
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    There is virtually no difference in playing LF vs playing RF. They're mirror images, except for longer throws from right. If Willngham can play corner OF, he can play corner OF. Which one he plays is next to meaningless. The more important decision is finding a way to keep Revere out of the everyday lineup.

  15. #15
    Twins Moderator All-Star diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fanatic Jack View Post
    John ,

    How did the Delmon Young experiment work out for the Twins? Young was a 22 year old athletic kid and he was unable to make the transition to left field. Willingham is 33, has struggled with injuries, and Gardenhire is going to move him to a brand new position. The best outfield alignment is Willingham/Revere/Span and it’s really not even close. However, Gardenhire is more concerned about how Span will react to the switch then what’s best for the team. Several reporters have commented on how stupid this move is, but Gardenhire is smarter than everyone. He is the worst manager in MLB. Willigham was terrible yesterday in right field by the way!!
    I think Gardy is a pretty bad manager, but this isn't the reason why.

    Like others said, given range factors at TF, you want your best defenders in left and center. Add to it, that Revere's arm is bad on so many levels. You don't put that in right, as people will be going from first to third all day long on pitches hit to right. Like John, I'm not getting the consternation of switching Willingham from left to right. It really isn't that much different of a position, and using Delmon as a comp is kind of foolish. Delmon is a bad defender anywhere in the OF. That has to do with his size and the fact that he doesn't get good reads on the ball. That doesn't change in RF, the only difference is that he would have had less plays to screw up out there.

    As for what's best for the team... Span is a plus defender in center. I agree that Revere may have better range, I don't agree that this means he should be in center (just a caveat to this, but I don't think he should be playing every day, but that's a separate issue). Again, with his arm, it makes more sense to put him in left where the weak arm is protected. As with right, you'll see plenty of people going first to third with anything hit reasonably well to center. Last year, we got to see a non-burner runner tag from second to home on a sac to center. How often do you see that when there's no error on the play? This isn't a situation where putting Revere in center is clearly best for the team. Doin't so consistently will probably lead to an extra out every week or two. That move makes sense in late innings when protecting a small lead with no runners on, but not so much otherwise.

  16. #16
    Just curious, but I've seen most of the Twins' games the last two years... how many balls have actually hit off of the overhang. I'm having a hard time picturing any. I've seen some bounce weird off of the railing- that had to be challenged to be ruled a homerun- and Thome had that one that hit the corner of the out-of-town scoreboard for a triple... but I can't recall seeing a ball hit off that hard, limestone overhang. Not saying it can't and won't- too many seasons watching balls do weird things in the Metrodome to not believe anything- but I don't think the overhang is going to play into the game as much as everyone else does. It doesn't matter your level of right-field expertise: if you're going back on a ball, you're going to keep going back in case it flies just under that overhang. And if it bounces off the overhang, then that is what back-up in the form of centerfield or a second-basemen- coming out for the relay- is for.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Triple-A
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    The Willingham experiment will be a disaster in right field. Just watch him get injured. You people need to start thinking with your head instead of your hearts. Not everything the Twins do is what's best for the team. The decision to put Willingham in right field is only good for one player and that's Denard Span. Everyone else is in a position to fail.
    Last edited by Fanatic Jack; 03-04-2012 at 08:05 PM.

  18. #18
    Owner MVP Seth Stohs's Avatar
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    Let's see... Span was the top defensive centerfielder a year ago when he got hurt, so I'm sure he'll be a 'disaster' in centerfield. (note sarcasm) Target Field's biggest areas are in LF and CF, so it's obvious that the best thing to do is put your two OF with the best range in LF and RF. Willingham wasn't a good LF, so it's not like moving him is a bad thing anyway. So, it's not that I am just agreeing with the Twins, it's that I believe it's the right thing to do in the ball park. I also believe that getting Plouffe in there as much as possible in Revere's spot will also be good.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Triple-A
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    Seth,

    Span was a very good center fielder for 66 games before he got hurt and Ben Revere was great for 117 games. However, Span in recent years has been average and now he plays scared because of his concusssion. You can’t look at just errors because that's a misleading statistic. You believe the best outfielders should always go in left field. No, sorry typically the weakest defensive outfielders go to left field. This is why Gardenhire wanted Delmon Young out there. We should let Plouffe play in the outfield as often as possible? Have you lost your mind or just read too much Jim Souhan. Plouffe looked completely lost in the outfield last year and is maybe a DH at best. I hope Ben Revere has a huge year so the entire blogging community can eat their words. Ben Revere is a better player than Denard Span right now and he is still learning on the fly.
    Last edited by Fanatic Jack; 03-05-2012 at 05:15 AM.

  20. #20
    Member Single-A jlovren's Avatar
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    The Twins will be a better team with Willingham in the game, whether it is in right field, left field or DH. My personal vote is right field with Span in center and Rever in left. Speed to cover the gaps and open space.

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