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Twins Organization Suddenly Lousy With Good Pitching

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#1 Parker Hageman

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Posted 30 June 2014 - 11:30 AM

chart (2).png In recent years, the Twins have struggled developing pitching out of the farm system. This drought has been the direct impetus for the increased spending on free agent starting pitching (Mike Pelfrey, Kevin Correia, Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes, et al).

It appears that there is hope that they have turned a corner towards a brighter future.

According to MLBfarm.com, the Twins' minor league pitchers have allowed the second fewest earned runs (1,281) in baseball. This number is organizationally wide so, from top to bottom, there are some strong teams:

Rochester's staff (3.25 ERA) has the best ERA in the International League.

New Britain (3.98) is sixth out of the 12-team Eastern League.

Fort Myers (2.99) is third out of the 12-team Florida State League.

In ten games, short-season Elizabethton (2.11) is leading the Appy League.

Only Cedar Rapids in the Midwest League has been the only team in the system that has produced a below average ERA.


Yes, ERA is a poor stat to use when it comes to evaluating pitching overall -- what with the subjectivity of errors -- however, this goes to show that the system is fairly strong across the board when it comes to both pitching and defense.

#2 Seth Stohs

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Posted 30 June 2014 - 11:39 AM

this has definitely been the stories rubs the system the first three months of the minor league season. It's good to see that quantified.

no question that the Twins have focused on pitching in the last two or three drafts.

#3 Parker Hageman

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Posted 30 June 2014 - 01:58 PM

There's no question they have added plenty of pitching over the past few drafts/trades. Ultimately would like to see the investments pay dividends in Minnesota.

#4 Dman

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Posted 30 June 2014 - 02:54 PM

Nice to see improvement in that area. I still think there is more they need to do pitching wise especially getting younger but I will take good pitching over bad any day. Farm club looks strong in general let's hope it translates to MLB.

#5 Monkeypaws

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Posted 30 June 2014 - 03:07 PM

Recent history excepted, the Twins always historically were a good hitting mediocre pitching organization. Glad to see good pitching rise to the top. Seems like a sustainable strategy for success.

#6 spycake

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Posted 30 June 2014 - 03:55 PM

For those curious, there is also an option to sort by just Runs (including unearned runs) and the Twins are still 2nd best.

Would be interesting to see this neutralized by league/ballpark -- I suspect the Twins benefit a lot by not having any teams in the traditional offensive minor leagues, at any level (no teams in the PCL, SOU/TEX, CAR/CAL leagues).

Interesting that Milwaukee is apparently the best in minor league run prevention -- I remember lots of posters here criticizing their minor league system this past winter.

From the same site, we are #1 in fewest walks allowed (surprise!), #2 in fewest HR allowed, and #3 in fewest hits allowed, although only #23 in pitching K's.

#7 jorgenswest

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Posted 30 June 2014 - 04:45 PM

Which category is the most telling for the future? I would guess strikeouts followed by walks.

#8 Thrylos

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Posted 30 June 2014 - 05:25 PM

Definitely there is huge improvement in the Twins' organization. About that chart: Not sure that un-normalized ERs is the way to go, esp. for teams that have affiliates in both the PCL and the CAL. Would be interesting to see how those charts look normalized by league average.
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#9 Jim H

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Posted 30 June 2014 - 07:42 PM

Thank you for posting this. It is interesting. I am not sure it actually means much, for some of the reasons already posted here and well, depth is good but a few dominant arms is maybe better. It is also interesting that Cedar Rapids is dragging down the organization, even though some of the struggling arms there are quite intriguing.

#10 spycake

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Posted 01 July 2014 - 08:41 AM

More thoughts:

Raw totals is also a really bad way to look at this, since teams have unequal numbers of minor league affiliates. The Twins have the minimum (7), but half the teams in the league have either 8 or 9.

Just looking a runs *per game* across all affiliates at B-Ref, the Twins ranking drops to 4th. BUT, this seems to be particularly skewed too by super-high-scoring short season leagues (some of those teams are giving up an average of 8 runs/game!), and Twins affiliates are absent from 3 of the 4 highest-scoring short season leagues.

By runs per games for full season affiliates only, the Twins rank drop to 7th. And most of the difference seems to be Rochester -- outside of AAA, the Twins fall to 16th. Rochester counts, though, and they are indeed much improved over past seasons. But contrary to what the raw data seemed to suggest, the Twins are probably not in contention for best minor league pitching system.

(We are also absent from the 4 highest scoring full season leagues, so I suspect our rank would drop further if one corrected for home ballpark.)

Also, I noticed Milwaukee's run prevention is pretty thoroughly outstanding throughout their minor league system -- they maintained their top rank in most permutations above. Their AAA team has been especially outstanding , considering it is in the PCL.

#11 spycake

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Posted 01 July 2014 - 08:57 AM

Would be interesting to see how those charts look normalized by league average.


Good catch.

By my rough calculation, for full season leagues, the Twins affiliate R/G to league R/G ratio only ranks 15th. Rochester and Ft Myers are above league average, New Britain and Cedar Rapids are both worse than league average. Just a hair above average overall, notably better than only the White Sox within our division.

Rank Aff. R/G / LgR/G Ratio
1 MIL 0.77
2 CHC 0.83
3 NYM 0.84
4 STL 0.85
5 TEX 0.86
6 ARI 0.88
7 HOU 0.89
8 SFG 0.89
9 MIA 0.91
10 TOR 0.94
11 KCR 0.94
12 OAK 0.96
13 LAA 0.96
14 DET 0.97
15 MIN 0.98
16 CLE 0.98
17 PIT 0.99
18 BOS 1.00
19 LAD 1.01
20 NYY 1.02
21 COL 1.03
22 SDP 1.03
23 SEA 1.04
24 TBR 1.05
25 WSN 1.06
26 BAL 1.08
27 CHW 1.11
28 CIN 1.11
29 ATL 1.13
30 PHI 1.20

#12 Parker Hageman

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Posted 01 July 2014 - 09:00 AM

@spycake/@thrylos: You both are 100% correct in that there are plenty of reasons NOT to embrace the ER totals in that chart. The chart simply a delivery mechanism -- not unlike blue cheese dressing on chicken wings -- to enhance the conversation. However, I think we can all agree there has been an unquestionable improvement system-wide in the pitching (as shown in the league rankings). That's either due to added talent, defensive improvements or perhaps the leagues themselves.

For the reasons you both pointed out, raw totals are a bit unequal (team numbers, leagues, etc). This also made me do some additional research to see if there was a site that had all the equalized stats that accounted for leagues/park factors across entire systems. That seems like a miss to me -- some website should step up and provide that.

#13 spycake

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Posted 01 July 2014 - 09:19 AM

Out of curiosity, I quickly ran this for 2011 too -- the Twins affiliates came in 30th, dead last in R/G to League R/G Ratio. So ranking 15th in 2014 so far is definitely an improvement!

Now, these numbers (and those of mine above) are far from perfect -- I think individual home ballparks may be skewing things beyond just leagues -- but they give a rough idea of minor league run prevention.

Here are the 2011 numbers:

1 STL 0.82
2 TEX 0.82
3 SFG 0.82
4 KCR 0.83
5 MIL 0.84
6 TOR 0.85
7 FLA 0.86
8 CHC 0.87
9 OAK 0.88
10 LAD 0.90
11 ARI 0.91
12 SDP 0.91
13 LAA 0.92
14 PHI 0.93
15 SEA 0.99
16 CLE 1.00
17 WSN 1.00
18 PIT 1.01
19 CHW 1.01
20 HOU 1.01
21 DET 1.02
22 NYM 1.02
23 TBR 1.03
24 BAL 1.03
25 BOS 1.04
26 COL 1.04
27 NYY 1.04
28 ATL 1.05
29 CIN 1.12
30 MIN 1.14

#14 spycake

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Posted 01 July 2014 - 09:25 AM

This also made me do some additional research to see if there was a site that had all the equalized stats that accounted for leagues/park factors across entire systems. That seems like a miss to me -- some website should step up and provide that.


Definitely. I have to imagine that will be coming to B-Ref at some point, now that they've had minor league game logs and splits on the individual player pages for awhile. Should be able to provide minor league player/team/system OPS+ and ERA+ figures based on that data.