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Enough Defense

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#1 Willihammer

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Posted 25 August 2014 - 08:03 AM

According to fangraphs, the Twins are 26th in baseball in defensive runs saved (-23.2). Last year, they were 25th with -36.7 runs. The Twins' worst players over that span include a few players who will probably be in the mix for 2015:
 

Oswaldo Arcia -19.2
Josh Willingham -14.9
Chris Colabello -11.4
Jason Kubel -11.1
Chris Parmelee -9.9
Aaron Hicks -9.8
Justin Morneau -8.9
Ryan Doumit -7.1
Alex Presley -4.2
Josmil Pinto -1.7

 

And some of the best defensive players probably won't be in the mix for 2015:

 

Pedro Florimon 16.2
Clete Thomas 5.3
Sam Fuld 4.9

Kurt Suzuki 4
Eduardo Escobar 2.2
Brian Dozier 1.8
Jordan Schafer 1.8
Eric Fryer 1.6
Trevor Plouffe 1.5
Doug Bernier 1.2
Wilkin Ramirez 0.4

 

Do the Twins need to add more defense in the offseason?

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#2 Kirby_waved_at_me

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Posted 25 August 2014 - 08:11 AM

YES

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#3 DJL44

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Posted 25 August 2014 - 08:18 AM

The Twins need to add more defense in the outfield. The infield is doing alright, although Danny Santana will probably grade out as a minus at SS. They have several flyball pitchers (Milone, Hughes, May) who will perform much better with a good outfield defense.

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#4 mike wants wins

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Posted 25 August 2014 - 08:22 AM

In an ideal world, you add a player who can add both offense and defense. In the real world, you add the player that adds to most combination of offense and defense, regardless of which side of the equation is better than the other.

 

The team is on pace to lose around 90 games for the fourth straight year. Given that, any talk of "not having many holes to fill" seems a bit odd to me.

 

Go get some players that are good.

Lighten up Francis....

#5 Kirby_waved_at_me

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Posted 25 August 2014 - 08:23 AM

The Defense is really horrific in the outfield - it's been terrible since Revere was traded.

 

Hicks and Arcia are young enough that I believe both have the ability to improve over time.

Santana, in addition to being young, is playing out of position, so I would give him some leeway as well.

 

Sam Fuld was good enough, but he's gone now. Jordan Schafer has been a step above embarrassing, but has still missed his fair share of plays. Otherwise, the Twins have trotted out a series of players that have no business in a major league outfield.

 

Some of it goes back to that dead horse we've all been beating on - signing Jason Bartlett. But the personnel was bad even without that decision.  

 

The Twins really need to see some improvement from the current group of young guys (Hicks, Arcia, Santana) and they probably need to add some more talent, preferably players that have ML experience playing outfield defense.


#6 beckmt

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Posted 25 August 2014 - 08:32 AM

Do not know why Hicks has graded out so bad.  Santana will have to get a pass as he is out of position.  Hopefully some of the players get better over time. Or could this be a case of fitting the statistics to the ballclub.


#7 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 25 August 2014 - 08:32 AM

I'm pretty skeptical about defensive metrics in general, and I'm rather surprised at Hicks negative grade in particular.  I'm also trying to figure out how Santana as a CF isn't on the bad list. 

 

Of course the real question is how Morneau and Doumit made the list for the Twins in 2014....  Also, 3 of the 4 worst offenders won't likely be back.  Cola might.

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#8 Kirby_waved_at_me

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Posted 25 August 2014 - 08:49 AM

One thing that I haven't understood is why the Twins keep playing 1B in the outfield. Parmelee is right on the edge of being athletic enough to be in the outfield, but I would think that most teams would only consider using him out there if there was an emergency situation.

 

And Colabello? Sheesh. He's a cool dude, and I wish him the best success for the rest of the year and in the future, but he really should not be considered an outfielder. He's a decent First Baseman, and when he's hitting well, he's worth a look at DH or as the main RH bench bat.

 

I realize that the Roster construction is what it is, but I have to believe that Colabello will be gone next year, and if he is, his replacement on the 40 Man will hopefully be a true outfielder.

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#9 Willihammer

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Posted 25 August 2014 - 09:12 AM

I'm pretty skeptical about defensive metrics in general, and I'm rather surprised at Hicks negative grade in particular.  I'm also trying to figure out how Santana as a CF isn't on the bad list. 

 

Of course the real question is how Morneau and Doumit made the list for the Twins in 2014....  Also, 3 of the 4 worst offenders won't likely be back.  Cola might.

I cut it off at Pinto. Some of the rest of the "bad" weren't on the 2014 club but does include Santana and Vargas too.

 

Kennys Vargas -1.6
Danny Santana -1.6
Darin Mastroianni -1.6
Kendrys Morales -1.3
Eduardo Nunez -0.7
Jamey Carroll -0.6

Edited by Willihammer, 25 August 2014 - 09:13 AM.


#10 Willihammer

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Posted 25 August 2014 - 09:17 AM

Parmelee and Arcia are liabilities in the outfield, I think think everyone's stats and eyeballs are in agreement on that. I think Hicks benefits from a narrative that says he is some kind of superspecimen, long strides, yada yada - he's looked below average to me. I'd prefer Santana actually. I'm unconvinced that putting Mauer in LF would be worse than Parmelee or even some of the FA options (has anyone looked at Melky Cabrera's defensive stats?)

Edited by Willihammer, 25 August 2014 - 09:17 AM.


#11 SwainZag

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Posted 25 August 2014 - 09:25 AM

I cut it off at Pinto. Some of the rest of the "bad" weren't on the 2014 club but does include Santana and Vargas too.

 

Kennys Vargas -1.6
Danny Santana -1.6
Darin Mastroianni -1.6
Kendrys Morales -1.3
Eduardo Nunez -0.7
Jamey Carroll -0.6

 

Hasn't Vargas only played 2 or 3 games in the field at most?  Seems like an awfully high number for less than 50 innings in the field.

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#12 nicksaviking

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Posted 25 August 2014 - 09:34 AM

Hasn't Vargas only played 2 or 3 games in the field at most?  Seems like an awfully high number for less than 50 innings in the field.

 

Agreed.  Defense is something that still is best evaluated by the eye test.  Defensive metrics are just way too flawed.

 

Also, my eye test tells me that Plouffe, Arcia and Parmelee are much better in the field this year.  Still, look for offense first and worry about the defense later.  If DH was already occupied and Kennys Vargas had to play 1B everyday, would any of us really be asking for him to be replaced?  His defense was why he wasn't on (m)any top prospect rankings yet now that he's here we're hoping he is a cornerstone of the rebuild.


#13 SwainZag

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Posted 25 August 2014 - 09:58 AM

Agreed.  Defense is something that still is best evaluated by the eye test.  Defensive metrics are just way too flawed.

 

Also, my eye test tells me that Plouffe, Arcia and Parmelee are much better in the field this year.  Still, look for offense first and worry about the defense later.  If DH was already occupied and Kennys Vargas had to play 1B everyday, would any of us really be asking for him to be replaced?  His defense was why he wasn't on (m)any top prospect rankings yet now that he's here we're hoping he is a cornerstone of the rebuild.

 

The eye test and advanced fielding shows that Arcia and Plouffe have improved a lot this year.  Take it for what it's worth but in terms of advanced fielding, Plouffe is a Top 5 defender in the league, a huge improvement over the last 2 years.


#14 birdwatcher

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Posted 25 August 2014 - 10:09 AM

According to fangraphs, the Twins are 26th in baseball in defensive runs saved (-23.2). Last year, they were 25th with -36.7 runs. The Twins' worst players over that span include a few players who will probably be in the mix for 2015:
 

Oswaldo Arcia -19.2
Josh Willingham -14.9
Chris Colabello -11.4
Jason Kubel -11.1
Chris Parmelee -9.9
Aaron Hicks -9.8
Justin Morneau -8.9
Ryan Doumit -7.1
Alex Presley -4.2
Josmil Pinto -1.7

 

And some of the best defensive players probably won't be in the mix for 2015:

 

Pedro Florimon 16.2
Clete Thomas 5.3
Sam Fuld 4.9

Kurt Suzuki 4
Eduardo Escobar 2.2
Brian Dozier 1.8
Jordan Schafer 1.8
Eric Fryer 1.6
Trevor Plouffe 1.5
Doug Bernier 1.2
Wilkin Ramirez 0.4

 

Do the Twins need to add more defense in the offseason?

Other than Arcia, and possibly Hicks, none of the others in the lousy category are going to factor into things in 2015. That said, I hope they bring in a defensively sound corner OF and a young catcher from outside. But way more importantly defensively, they need to bring in a top of the rotation starter!

Edited by birdwatcher, 25 August 2014 - 10:11 AM.


#15 Kirby_waved_at_me

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Posted 25 August 2014 - 10:28 AM

If Cabrera is in shape, He plays better defense than Parmelee and so far better than Arcia.

Melky has had some ugly defense in his career, 2013 in particular. He later found out that he had a tumor on his spine that was causing his mobility issues.

He hasn't been great in LF this season, but he's been better than the majority of the players the Twins have put out there.


#16 Willihammer

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Posted 25 August 2014 - 11:02 AM

If Cabrera is in shape, He plays better defense than Parmelee and so far better than Arcia.

Melky has had some ugly defense in his career, 2013 in particular. He later found out that he had a tumor on his spine that was causing his mobility issues.

He hasn't been great in LF this season, but he's been better than the majority of the players the Twins have put out there.

So you're saying he's injury prone?


#17 DJL44

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Posted 25 August 2014 - 11:18 AM

Every starter except groundballer Kyle Gibson is underperforming FIP by a run or more. The team FIP of 3.89 is right in the middle of the pack. The obvious place to upgrade is CF and LF which are relatively large in Target Field compared to the rest of the league. Kansas City is leading the division because their outfield defense is awesome. I don't think Shields is better than Phil Hughes but you wouldn't tell by their ERA+.

 

The Twins infield defense is worse after Florimon was demoted; Dozier's numbers dropped after the move almost as much as they dropped at SS. However, I think Escobar is just fine and Florimon can't hit.

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#18 Kirby_waved_at_me

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Posted 25 August 2014 - 11:19 AM

RE: Melky Cabrera's durability

 

 

Yeah. The tumor was removed?

 

He's more weight gain prone - he had a lost season playing for Atlanta awhile back.

 

He's just turning 30 next season. I think he's much less injury prone than Grady Sizemore, Shane Victorino, Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer, etc.

 

He leads the league in games played in LF this year, so take from that what you will - either he's turned a corner and is durable, or he's overdue for a DL-stint.

 

The tumor may or may not have been related to the growth hormones that had him suspended for 50 games in 2012.

Edited by Kirby_waved_at_me, 25 August 2014 - 11:20 AM.


#19 TheDean

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Posted 25 August 2014 - 11:42 AM

The eye test and advanced fielding shows that Arcia and Plouffe have improved a lot this year.  Take it for what it's worth but in terms of advanced fielding, Plouffe is a Top 5 defender in the league, a huge improvement over the last 2 years.

 

I actually find it remarkable that the advanced stats like DRS and UZR actually match my personal eye test on most of these guys, both in the good cases, as you mentioned above, and the bad cases.

 

For example, early this year, I thought "Wow, Hammer and Arcia at the corners... we're going to see some balls drop in the gaps."  That they did, and DRS shows that.  Eye test also said, "Kubel and Colabello have to be the worst corner OF replacements in the MLB." DRS and UZR confirm it.  We're talking about impressively bad in a relatively short period of time: 476 innings combined OF time and -16.7 UZR.

 

The Twins are ranked dead last in UZR for LF (and could be further back if it weren't for UZR being very kind to Schafer), they're 25th for RF (could be worse if not for Arcia's stabilizing league-average innings), and middle of the pack in CF (Fuld somehow is superman, UZR hates Hicks, Santana is average-ish).

 

A lot of us don't care for UZR and DRS, but the conclusions are totally in-line with my eye test: the OF defense must be upgraded for the Twins to think about competing for a Wild Card spot.

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#20 Kirby_waved_at_me

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Posted 25 August 2014 - 11:52 AM

Yes - the Twins OF has been so bad that even Melky Cabrera would be an improvement defensively.


#21 stringer bell

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Posted 25 August 2014 - 01:50 PM

I don't buy defensive metrics, but if they indicate something that both scouting and the eyeball test agree with, well then, that is a pretty convincing statement.

 

I believe the defense in the infield is (in answer to the OP) good enough.

 

Arcia (much improved in the field) is a given in right field, left field and center field must improve.  I agree that Hicks has looked less than awesome as a CF.  Santana, too, although criticism of him must be tempered with the fact that he is learning a key defensive position on the fly.  If Hicks or Santana is the regular center fielder next year, it is important, if not vital, to have a plus defender man left field. 

 

Finally, while I am a Pinto believer, it would be outstanding to be grooming a glove-first catcher as a backup and successor to Suzuki.  Backups and stopgaps have hurt the Twins defense more than anything.  Having regulars start 140-160 games would really help the overall defense IMHO.


#22 TheLeviathan

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Posted 25 August 2014 - 06:57 PM

The Twins don't have to just use FA, they should also explore trades.  Their first priority should be a left-fielder that can field the position well and provide some power.

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#23 Thrylos

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Posted 25 August 2014 - 07:20 PM

I'm pretty skeptical about defensive metrics in general, and I'm rather surprised at Hicks negative grade in particular.  I'm also trying to figure out how Santana as a CF isn't on the bad list. 

 

Santana has a negative UZR, Defensive runs saved, and plus/minus runs both as CF and SS this season (SSS notwithstanding.)  Not sure where those numbers posted are from. Suzuki is at -4 in DRS too.

Here are the Twins Defensive Runs Saved in 2014 in ascending order.  Not that I care much about the metric, URZ is better.  Heck, Plouffe leads the Twins with +6 DRS in 2014...

Edited by Thrylos, 25 August 2014 - 07:21 PM.

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#24 jorgenswest

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Posted 25 August 2014 - 09:43 PM

The difference between the Twins FIP and ERA is the largest in baseball. At the team level, it's not bad luck. That doesn't even factor in any negative pitch framing effect which would be part of FIP.

Whether or not the front office believes in a metric, they need to believe in defense. Defense matters. The Twins defense costs them wins.

#25 DocBauer

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Posted 25 August 2014 - 09:54 PM

I'm going to cop out here and say yes and no, while showing my age somewhat with naïveté toward advanced metrics in this area.

I've seen teams in the past rank at the top of defensive statistics simply due to few errors. But the eyeball test showed the team was filled with statues who simply didn't make mistakes. And to be sure, there is value in making the normal plays and not shooting yourself in the foot. But the eye test has also shown me teams who ranked below the top, who had more errors, but also more range and athleticism, made more great plays, and who's "errors" came on plays where other teams never would have reached a ball in play.

I think Arcia is looking better and better in RF, something I've been outspoken about. He's not there yet, but he's getting there. And the arm is very good! Maybe I'm missing something when I watch and listen, but how is Mauer bad at first? It's a work in progress, never really playing the position until last season, but I think he's OK and will probably get better. Dozier is a stud at 2B in my opinion. Nobody is perfect, and I speculate he's still learning a few nuances to a new position still, but I actually enjoy him playing defense. SS is solid with Escobar, despite a few errors. And he's been a godsend there. No question Santana offers more range, and probably an even better arm. I think SS is still a bit in flux, but still far better off than it's been in a long time.

Plouffe has grown, IMO, in to a quality 3B. Suzuki is solid behind the plate. The real questions are CF and LF. Speaking of Santana, I am so impressed with what he has shown in CF, not that he's great, but to do as well as he's done, and actually show improvement under a very difficult situation is impressive. I still believe and hope we sign that quality bat for LF, but also someone who can actually play quality defense out there. I think it could go a long way to helping the defense.

(Sorry Hammer...over 500 words. Lol)

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#26 stringer bell

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Posted 25 August 2014 - 10:08 PM

Nice take, Doc, and less than half a page.  Mauer was very uncertain the first thirty games or so.  He seems to have gained confidence and I think he's been very good for a while now.  One area where Mauer appears uncertain of himself going after foul popups.  Other than that, he has been very good.  I think he might even get a gold glove if he plays enough games there in future years.

 

Center and left field need improvement. 


#27 DocBauer

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Posted 25 August 2014 - 10:21 PM

[quote name="stringer bell" post="273808" timestamp="1409026087"]Nice take, Doc, and less than half a page. 

OK, now I'm just getting paranoid. Lol

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#28 glunn

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Posted 25 August 2014 - 10:44 PM

Based on the eye test, it seems to me that Santana might perform better if he were to play 5 to 10 feet deeper.  It seems to me that Santana has problems getting to balls that are hit to the wall, and playing a little deeper might make a significant difference for him.