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Article: The Twins are Winning by Walking

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#1 Nick Nelson

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 01:18 PM

You can view the page at http://www.twinsdail...ning-by-Walking

#2 Arky Vaughn

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 02:00 PM

I'm so confused. I have read hundreds of posts from people criticizing Joe Mauer for taking walks. The only offensive value a player has is how many home runs and RBIs they have. Now you are trying to tell me there is value in talking walks. Talk about cognitive dissonance. I just don't know what to believe. Can there really be value in not making outs?

#3 tobi0040

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 02:29 PM

I'm so confused. I have read hundreds of posts from people criticizing Joe Mauer for taking walks. The only offensive value a player has is how many home runs and RBIs they have. Now you are trying to tell me there is value in talking walks. Talk about cognitive dissonance. I just don't know what to believe. Can there really be value in not making outs?


I am confused as well. In key situations, we were told Joe should try and hit a HR, which he has done in 2% of his plate appearances over his career. Instead of getting on base.

Now we are winning because of walks.

#4 CRArko

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 02:45 PM

It's actually the head-first slide into first after the walk that's firing everybody up. Joe doesn't do that because of the concussion risk.

Science; easy and fun.
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A: To get to the same side.

#5 twinsfan214

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 02:50 PM

I assume the two other posters are being ironic. Sabermetrics says to get on base, the key being "it doesn't matter how".

#6 MileHighTwinsFan

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 03:04 PM

Taking quality at bats is part of what sustains an offense and destabilizes opposing pitching. The lack of options out of the bullpen for the Rays late on Wednesday carried over to Thursday. Having more men on base creates more opportunities to score, which in turn wears down a pitching staff. The approach the Twins are taking is going to be critical to their competitiveness for the entire season.

The concern I have is whether Arcia and Willingham will undermine this approach when they return. Their very high strikeout rates could be a detriment. Losing Pinto's walks in favor of Arcia's strikeouts could be a negative.

#7 DJL44

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 03:33 PM

Willingham has always taken a fair share of walks. Arcia hasn't but maybe he'll learn now.

#8 Taildragger8791

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 04:14 PM

I'm so confused. I have read hundreds of posts from people criticizing Joe Mauer for taking walks. The only offensive value a player has is how many home runs and RBIs they have. Now you are trying to tell me there is value in talking walks. Talk about cognitive dissonance. I just don't know what to believe. Can there really be value in not making outs?


Just playing devil's advocate here, but the article was talking about getting previously marginal hitters to draw walks because they aren't going to beat anyone with the stick consistently. Mauer isn't a marginal hitter (ignoring the last few weeks) and certainly has the ability to beat even great pitchers swinging. That was his perceived responsibility in the batting order for years, whether or not it was true.

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Posted 26 April 2014 - 08:07 AM

I assume the two other posters are being ironic. Sabermetrics says to get on base, the key being "it doesn't matter how".

Can you show us where saber metrics says that it doesn't matter how you get on base?

#10 Twins Twerp

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Posted 26 April 2014 - 08:23 AM

Can you show us where saber metrics says that it doesn't matter how you get on base?


Ya it was that part where Jonah Hill was whispering to the Indians gm about getting on base and he says doesnt matter how. Moneyball=sabrmetrics. Or it was in Genisis 1: "And on the seventh day God said it doesnt really matter how you get on base, so long as you are on first base after thou at bat."

#11 jokin

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Posted 26 April 2014 - 08:31 AM

Taking quality at bats is part of what sustains an offense and destabilizes opposing pitching. The lack of options out of the bullpen for the Rays late on Wednesday carried over to Thursday. Having more men on base creates more opportunities to score, which in turn wears down a pitching staff. The approach the Twins are taking is going to be critical to their competitiveness for the entire season.

The concern I have is whether Arcia and Willingham will undermine this approach when they return. Their very high strikeout rates could be a detriment. Losing Pinto's walks in favor of Arcia's strikeouts could be a negative.


If Arcia continues in the manner with which he was playing before his injury, he won't be around long enough to mess up Pinto's PAs, he'll be back in Roc. In contrast, you underestimate Willingham's strong ability to get on base, a career .360 OBP. His usually high BB% was even better before he broke his wrist, a career high 17.4%. And he also has a high HBP rate, Willingham gets what the Twins are trying to do this year as a team, it's been part of his career MO.

#12 CRArko

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Posted 26 April 2014 - 08:32 AM

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Saber metrics; i.e., mine's bigger.
Q: Why did the chicken cross the Möbius Strip?
A: To get to the same side.

#13 Hosken Bombo Disco

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Posted 26 April 2014 - 12:01 PM

Ya it was that part where Jonah Hill was whispering to the Indians gm about getting on base and he says doesnt matter how. Moneyball=sabrmetrics. Or it was in Genisis 1: "And on the seventh day God said it doesnt really matter how you get on base, so long as you are on first base after thou at bat."


Also in the Sabermetrics bible I think I saw this passage:

"And that Thou shalt not run Thyself out of innings, and that He who steals shall steal no longer, but depend upon the labors of the next batter…"

#14 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 26 April 2014 - 06:42 PM

This looks more real by the day. Five runs scored today...

On four hits.

Oh, also eight walks.

#15 Wookiee of the Year

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Posted 26 April 2014 - 06:51 PM

The lopsided philosophical emphasis on limiting walks for pitchers versus a lack of emphasis on drawing walks for hitters always seemed to represent a blatant contradiction in the coaching staff's approach.

The Twins have always viewed the base on balls as a dangerous weapon for the opposing offense, but consistently failed to deploy it as a featured component of their own offensive attack. Now they are, and it's paying off.

I have to assume it goes back to the lazy philosophy that walks are the pitcher's fault, and that doesn't recognize plate discipline for the valuable skill it is.

It's nice to see the wind changing direction; thanks for the analysis, Nick.

#16 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 26 April 2014 - 07:05 PM

Can you show us where saber metrics says that it doesn't matter how you get on base?


I tend to agree with what I think you are implying here.

I think getting walks are a great thing, but unless the bases are empty, a single is going to have more value than a walk simply b/c the runners can advance more than one base.

I see walks as valuable in that they increase the pitch count of the opposing pitcher and they help accomplish what offenses all want, to not make outs. and getting them in large quantities is a good thing... but at the end of the day, when there are runners on, a hit is far more effective.

#17 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 26 April 2014 - 08:25 PM

"Not making an out" is not synonymous with "hits are equal to walks".

There are varying degrees of not making an out. What's most important is that you don't make the out at all but that doesn't mean everything after that point is equal.

#18 twinsin17

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Posted 26 April 2014 - 08:54 PM

It sounds like we are talking about wOBA. http://www.fangraphs...y/offense/woba/ In short, wOBA places a value on each hitting event - BBs, 1B, 2B, 3B, HR - based on their actual run value. Kind of like OPS but better because it recognizes getting on base is more valuable than how many bases the hit results in. In the Twins case, what wOBA does not account for is that we are replacing outs (not hits) with BBs. Maybe we should create a new metric TwOBA. Go Twins!

#19 Alex

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Posted 27 April 2014 - 12:08 PM

A very similar article, but focuses on swing rates: http://www.fangraphs...lan-dont-swing/

#20 drivlikejehu

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Posted 27 April 2014 - 12:54 PM

The value of the various possible outcomes has long since been established by linear weights and its descendants (including wOBA). It is only called "wOBA" because it is expressed in terms comparable to on-base percentage; walks aren't treated any differently than in other linear weight measures. They are clearly less valuable than a single, and by a decent amount.

However, both a walk and a hit avoid the same negative value of an out.

#21 CRArko

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Posted 27 April 2014 - 01:01 PM

I guess I'd choose to not give the wins back, even when they derive from that inferior base on balls.
Q: Why did the chicken cross the Möbius Strip?
A: To get to the same side.

#22 jokin

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Posted 27 April 2014 - 05:12 PM

I guess I'd choose to not give the wins back, even when they derive from that inferior base on balls.


And even when the typical 8-walk victory is resulting in the latest phenomenon- the 9-inning, 4-hour-long game. The games are morphing into cricket matches, but yes, I'll take it.

#23 Hosken Bombo Disco

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Posted 27 April 2014 - 05:34 PM

And even when the typical 8-walk victory is resulting in the latest phenomenon- the 9-inning, 4-hour-long game. The games are morphing into cricket matches, but yes, I'll take it.


We've seen two of these in two weeks.. hard to figure.. but this patience at the plate looks like part of the plan, and not really a fluke. I'm tempted to say the Twins should be 10-13 instead of 12-11 but like you, I'll take it

#24 ashburyjohn

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Posted 27 April 2014 - 06:49 PM

Walking on sunshine


And don't it feel good?

#25 zzlund

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Posted 27 April 2014 - 09:05 PM

Sent the email below to [email protected] at 9:30 am on Friday, about 5 hours before the article was posted:

--------------

Hi Nick, big fan of your blog. Nice to see some clear-eyed analysis of the Twins that digs a bit deeper into the reasons for their success and failure. I'm writing because I'd like to get your opinion on what's happening with the number of walks this year. They're scoring runs at a phenomenal rate and it appears to be due to their AL leading OBP (~0.350). If you look at their batting average (~0.250) and number of walks thus far (111!), it's pretty clear they're doing well because of improved plate discipline and free passes. I've been following the Twins a long time and this is not the swing first ask questions later team that I'm used to seeing. 5+ walks per game? A quick look at the past three years:


OBP walks per game

2013 0.312 3.2
2012 0.325 3.1
2011 0.306. 2.7


Why the dramatic shift in approach? Is this due to coaching or did the players agree amongst themselves to grind out every at bat to get on base? It looks like a coherent philosophy up and down the order. Given the (still) terrible staring pitching, it's seems like the walks are the one of the main factors contributing to their success. Would be curious to hear your thoughts.

----------------

does anyone know if I sent it to the right email address?

Edited by zzlund, 27 April 2014 - 09:16 PM.


#26 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 28 April 2014 - 06:13 AM

That should be Nick's address, yes. He probably hasn't had time to read his email and/or respond. It's best to engage him via Twitter, I think. You're most likely to get a response through that channel.

https://twitter.com/nnelson9