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#1 stringer bell

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 07:34 PM

With the Twins 9-7 win against Tampa, they are first in the American League in three important offensive categories: Runs per game (5.52 just ahead of Chicago), walks, and on-base percentage.

We are nearing a month into this season and the sample sizes are getting larger. Certainly, the positive numbers are a surprise and it's not likely that the Twins will maintain their pace. However, there seems to be real improvement in their offense. They are nearing the middle of the pack in home runs, but almost all of their homers have been solos. The run scoring has been predicated on getting a lot of runners on and then getting some key hits with runners on. They have been pretty good with runners on base and patience at the plate is producing big dividends.

#2 TheLeviathan

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 07:39 PM

After this month a lifetime contract for Bruno seems called for.

#3 Willihammer

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 09:23 PM

After this month a lifetime contract for Bruno seems called for.


The exact same suspects that struck out 1430 times all the sudden are showing consistently good zone judgement now. Pretty remarkable really. Credit where credit's due - the coaches.

#4 drivlikejehu

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 09:29 PM

I'd give credit to the players who are performing well. But regardless, it's still very, very early.

#5 TheLeviathan

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 10:04 PM

I'd give credit to the players who are performing well. But regardless, it's still very, very early.


It's early and, in my opinion probably unsustainable, but to me the coaches get the bulk of the credit and the players get some for executing it. There is a very clear difference in the approach our lineup is taking this year. The days of "swing like a man" appear to have given way to patience.

It's a welcome and wise change.

#6 ChiTownTwinsFan

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 11:16 PM

I'd give credit to the players who are performing well. But regardless, it's still very, very early.


Yup, it is. And I figure this can't be sustained. So I'm going to not look the gift horse in the mouth and enjoy the moments while I can. Yay Twins! :)
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#7 Shane Wahl

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 11:41 PM

Can anyone dig up more info on Bruno's potential work done with Dozier, Plouffe, and Colabello? Is there something there, or is it more a matter of individual player adapting on their own? Imagine the possibilities for Hicks and Arcia.

#8 AM.

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 05:24 AM

And in June, when the rotation is Meyer, Gibson, Hughes, May, and Nolasco, the Twins will have a chance to actually make some noise this year.

#9 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 05:28 AM

I don't know if the results are sustainable, but the approach certainly is. The big thing I see is that I'm not seeing out of norm expectations for a lot of guys besides Suzuki and Colabello... and on Cola, his minor league track record says he can keep this up. Will definitely be interesting.

#10 AM.

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 05:31 AM

Can anyone dig up more info on Bruno's potential work done with Dozier, Plouffe, and Colabello? Is there something there, or is it more a matter of individual player adapting on their own? Imagine the possibilities for Hicks and Arcia.


If I recall correctly, Bruno was the coach when Plouffe, Dozier and Parmelee all had big (monster) stretches in the minors, and he was given credit.

By the way, striking out 1430 times, swinging like a man, and having great patience are necessarily unrelated events. In fact, a strong argument could be made that they are keys parts of the same overall approach/overall development.

#11 TheLeviathan

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 06:39 AM

And in June, when the rotation is Meyer, Gibson, Hughes, May, and Nolasco, the Twins will have a chance to actually make some noise this year.


Let's see if the scoring can keep up. When you look at the total picture of offensive statistics and play the "which of these is not like the others" - it's clearly the runs scored. They've had a ton of unearned runs and all of their other significant stats trail the other top scoring teams significantly. That implies a lot of good fortune.

#12 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 06:48 AM

Let's see if the scoring can keep up. When you look at the total picture of offensive statistics and play the "which of these is not like the others" - it's clearly the runs scored. They've had a ton of unearned runs and all of their other significant stats trail the other top scoring teams significantly. That implies a lot of good fortune.


Yep. While I can't believe the rotation will continue to be this bad, this April is looking a lot like last April. Crazy hitting performances that can't possibly be sustainable while the rotation crumbles and we see a lot of 9-7 victories.

And we all know what happened last May. This could easily be "second verse, same as the first".

#13 Major Leauge Ready

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 07:27 AM

What is really encouraging to me is that Plouffe's hitting looks sustainable. It appears to be a result of preparation and approach and that is encouraging. He will be a great utility player when Sano arrives. If his defense continues to be good, he might be too valuable as a trade asset to keep which would be even better.

Colabello needs to show he can handle whatever adjustments pitchers are going to make. However, his minor league stats would suggest he might be able to pull that off.

Pinto's plate discipline is also very encouraging. Players with that kind of pitch recognition tend to be good for a very long time.

Dozier is proving his power is for real.

These players emerging are much more important IMO than if Willingham would have started hot. These players will be important assets in the future.

I am starting to get concerned about Mauer. Him going downhill would be a real blow to this team for the next 5 years. I am not ready to panic just yet but the potential impact has a few layers and they are all bad.

#14 SD Buhr

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 07:30 AM

Yep. While I can't believe the rotation will continue to be this bad, this April is looking a lot like last April. Crazy hitting performances that can't possibly be sustainable while the rotation crumbles and we see a lot of 9-7 victories.

And we all know what happened last May. This could easily be "second verse, same as the first".


I don't disagree, but one thing that is different than last year is that there appears to be pitching depth ready to step in if the rotation continues to crumble. That doesn't mean Meyer, May, Johnson, et al, will be lights out when they get their chances, but I feel better about their chances than I did about their options a year ago.

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#15 longstrangetrip

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 07:43 AM

I'm really enjoying watching the Twins at bats this year. Remember what some of those Yankee teams in the last decade would do to our pitching? You just couldn't get them to swing at a bad pitch. The count was always 3-1, and our pitchers had 80 pitches by the 3rd inning.

Well, that's what we seem to be doing this year! Dozier has never been my idea of an ideal leadoff guy, but he looks like Jeter to me this year. How many times have we seen him go 8-10 pitches leading off the game, and before you know it, the opposing pitcher has 20-30 pitches in the first inning? And Mauer, Plouffe and Cola have seen everything the pitcher has by the time they come up. It changes the whole complexion of the game. I credit Bruno, but I also give Dozier a lot of credit for how he starts the game.

#16 spycake

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 07:44 AM

Yep. While I can't believe the rotation will continue to be this bad, this April is looking a lot like last April. Crazy hitting performances that can't possibly be sustainable while the rotation crumbles and we see a lot of 9-7 victories.

And we all know what happened last May. This could easily be "second verse, same as the first".


Agreed! You just can't say "Look how nicely the offense is out-performing expectations so far" and then say "Imagine how good we'll be when the pitching quits under-performing expectations". Odds are, they will both trend toward their expectations, and wash each other out.

Hopefully, though, if they offset each other fairly evenly, we can maintain our current ~.500 level of performance for a while.

#17 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 07:47 AM

I don't disagree, but one thing that is different than last year is that there appears to be pitching depth ready to step in if the rotation continues to crumble. That doesn't mean Meyer, May, Johnson, et al, will be lights out when they get their chances, but I feel better about their chances than I did about their options a year ago.


Oh, for sure... I have a lot more faith in the rotation holding their own this season than I did last year after Worley completely collapsed.

Even more so considering how May has started out in Rochester. If his curve has matured a bit and he can keep the fastball under control, he has a legitimate shot at being a #3 pitcher, maybe even a #2 if things really work out.

#18 Head First

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 08:00 AM

I don't disagree, but one thing that is different than last year is that there appears to be pitching depth ready to step in if the rotation continues to crumble. That doesn't mean Meyer, May, Johnson, et al, will be lights out when they get their chances, but I feel better about their chances than I did about their options a year ago.


Yeah, that's my thought. (Side note: Anyone hear how it went with Buxton yesterday? Supposedly played in an extended spring training game?)

#19 drivlikejehu

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 08:21 AM

Right now the Twins are scoring 5.5 runs per game. The Fangraphs projection based on Zips & Steamer was for around 4.0 per game. The MLB average will probably wind up around 4.25 per game. The gap between expected & actual runs allowed is much smaller - around 5.2 so far compared to 4.7 projected.

So while the offense will likely outperform expectations, there is still a lot of regression ahead. The pitching though was expected to be bad and has just been somewhat worse. There will be some positive regression there, but the numbers still don't add up to a .500 team.

#20 TheLeviathan

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 08:22 AM

Agreed! You just can't say "Look how nicely the offense is out-performing expectations so far" and then say "Imagine how good we'll be when the pitching quits under-performing expectations". Odds are, they will both trend toward their expectations, and wash each other out.

Hopefully, though, if they offset each other fairly evenly, we can maintain our current ~.500 level of performance for a while.


Right, if things to normalize it could still be a good thing for the team. The worrisome thing for repeating last year (nose dive in May) is that the pitching has to completely turn around, while the hitting could see a serious step backward just by no longer being lucky.

If the luck runs out before the pitching turns around, things could get ugly.

#21 bear333

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 08:47 AM

And in June, when the rotation is Meyer, Gibson, Hughes, May, and Nolasco, the Twins will have a chance to actually make some noise this year.

The chances that they will replace, even one of their starters in June, is slim, at best. If they do, it will be just one. If they don't think Meyer is ready, they would probably stretch out Deduno and add him. Any major change in the starters would probably not happen till the end of summer and only then, if things were out of control.

#22 cmathewson

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 08:58 AM

Kubel, Pinto and Colabello were not around last year at this time. Plouffe was battling wrist injuries. I think this team is a better hitting team than last year, and it hasn't received anything from Arcia or Willingham yet. Count me as encouraged.
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#23 SpiritofVodkaDave

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 09:05 AM

Kubel, Pinto and Colabello were not around last year at this time. Plouffe was battling wrist injuries. I think this team is a better hitting team than last year, and it hasn't received anything from Arcia or Willingham yet. Count me as encouraged.


Not to mention Mauer has been slow out of the gates as well, Arcia/Hammer and Mauer will make up for a lot of the regression out of the Suzukis and maybe Cola.

I don't think they can maintain top offense in the AL, but if they can keep it in the top 5 and the pitching can be league average they will have a shot.
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#24 Joe A. Preusser

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 09:07 AM

This team has shiwn a great approach at the plate thus far. They aren't just getting lucky out there. By my eye test, the luck has been even for the Twins and their opponents.

#25 spycake

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 09:20 AM

For some context, the Twins batters current 12.9 BB% would be an expansion era (1961+) MLB record, by far. Next highest is the 2000 Seattle Mariners at 12.1%. Most of the high teams are from the sillyball era (1993-2000) or 1969-1971 following the lowering of the mound, when the league BB% was 1+ percent higher than today; otherwise, the absolute max team high is closer to 11%:
http://www.fangraphs...yers=0&sort=9,d

Out of our 10 "regulars" (the current 9 plus Willingham), 4 of them have basically doubled their established walk rates, AND 5 more are posting career highs to boot. The only one who isn't posting a career-best walk rate, and he's actually dropped interestingly enough, is Colabello.

Also, as a team we are +.017 in BABIP over 2014 league BABIP and our yearly team BABIPs since moving to Target Field. 4 of the above 10 regulars are about 100 points better than their established BABIP levels so far in 2014, and Suzuki is about 60 points better too. We've also got a few BABIP underperformers, but they've been dwarfed by the overperformers so far.

Looking in the Plate Discipline section at Fangraphs, we're now 2nd best in out-of-zone swing percentage... but we were already a very respectable 6th last year, behind only 4 AL playoff teams (and, inexplicably, the Cubs). In 2014, we have the lowest in-zone swing percentage, notably lower than last year's (which was already second-lowest in baseball). I guess that means we're being more selective even in the zone, which is good, but given our crazy walk rates, it also suggests that maybe we've been the beneficiaries of a poorly called strike zone thus far? Like we're getting away with not swinging at strikes?

I'll take it, but this just screams fluke. I'd like to see some improvement in ISO (we currently rank 21st, with a slightly lower figure than last year). So far, we have made modest gains in AVG (up 8 points from last year, even as the league is down 5 -- we're basically league average at the moment).

#26 spycake

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 09:32 AM

Kubel, Pinto and Colabello were not around last year at this time. Plouffe was battling wrist injuries. I think this team is a better hitting team than last year, and it hasn't received anything from Arcia or Willingham yet. Count me as encouraged.


Well, the first 3 guys you mention were basically the replacements for Arcia and Willingham. Even if they are all hitting well, there's no way they are all in the lineup at the same time. Heck, right now, there isn't really a spot for either Arcia or Willingham, performance-wise -- the one guy they might "replace" is either Pinto or Suzuki (pushing them out of the DH spot), and you'd be hard-pressed to improve upon what either of them has hit thus far.

Not that it won't be nice to have more options, but I highly doubt the offense improves (or even maintains this crazy pace) even with Arcia and Willingham back.

Also, from my post above, Pinto and Plouffe are in the group that has doubled their established walk rates thus far; Kubel (and Willingham) "only" has a career high in that rate. Kubel, Colabello, and Plouffe are also 3 of the group who have added 100 points to their established BABIP levels.

#27 spycake

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 09:35 AM

This team has shiwn a great approach at the plate thus far. They aren't just getting lucky out there. By my eye test, the luck has been even for the Twins and their opponents.


No doubt they've been doing some good work at the plate, but their unsustainable walk rates and BABIP is almost the definition of some luck. Not all luck, hopefully/probably, but a fair amount of it.

Edited by spycake, 25 April 2014 - 09:39 AM.


#28 TheLeviathan

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 10:26 AM

No doubt they've been doing some good work at the plate, but their unsustainable walk rates and BABIP is almost the definition of some luck. Not all luck, hopefully/probably, but a fair amount of it.


Throw in 14 unearned runs on that tally and the evidence is overwhelming that this is flukey production so far.

The approach can be maintained and that's the encouraging part, but there is simply no way you can look at the peripherals of this offense and suggest the Twins have been anything other than extremely lucky.

#29 cmathewson

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 10:29 AM

Well, the first 3 guys you mention were basically the replacements for Arcia and Willingham. Even if they are all hitting well, there's no way they are all in the lineup at the same time. Heck, right now, there isn't really a spot for either Arcia or Willingham, performance-wise -- the one guy they might "replace" is either Pinto or Suzuki (pushing them out of the DH spot), and you'd be hard-pressed to improve upon what either of them has hit thus far.

Not that it won't be nice to have more options, but I highly doubt the offense improves (or even maintains this crazy pace) even with Arcia and Willingham back.

Also, from my post above, Pinto and Plouffe are in the group that has doubled their established walk rates thus far; Kubel (and Willingham) "only" has a career high in that rate. Kubel, Colabello, and Plouffe are also 3 of the group who have added 100 points to their established BABIP levels.


I agree. Obviously, there are only nine spots in the lineup. But when those first three guys regress, there will be more options, and that will make the lineup more sustainable. That was my point.
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#30 spycake

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 10:45 AM

Throw in 14 unearned runs on that tally and the evidence is overwhelming that this is flukey production so far.


Actually the Twins lead MLB with 17 unearned runs scored. And to give some context, the average team has scored 9 unearned runs so far, and the 2nd place total is 14:
http://www.baseball-...014#oppon_extra

Last year the Twins were almost precisely average in scoring unearned runs.

Edited by spycake, 25 April 2014 - 11:04 AM.