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September 2015: The sensible road to 76-61

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#1 mp_mn

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Posted 02 September 2014 - 09:05 PM

The Twins stand at 60-77 at the start of September. Let's improve that for 2015 with a few simple tweaks:

 

Baseball Prospectus puts the Twins 3rd order pythagorean win percentage at .458, which is a touch under 63 wins. Let's call that the current baseline for the talent level of the team.

+3 WAR

 

Kenny Vargas soaking up at-bats at DH that were earlier spent on Chris Colabello and Kendrys Morales does wonders:
OUT: Colabello PAs (-1.0 WAR in 220 PAs) +

OUT: Kendrys Morales PAs (-0.8 WAR in 162 PAs) +

OUT: Vargas' current production (0.5 WAR in 135 PAs, a 0.37 WAR/100PA rate)

IN: Vargas (0.37 WAR/100 PA in 517 PAs) = 1.91 WAR

1.91 WAR - (-1.8) =

+3.7 WAR

 

Don't hand Chris Herrmann or Chris Parmelee any more at-bats. Give them to Schafer instead.

OUT: Chris Herrmann + Parmelee (285 ABs at about -1 WAR)

IN: Replacement level 4th OF guy

+1 WAR

 

Let's grab a 2 WAR LF free agent. Cuddyer, Melky Cabrera, or Nelson Cruz could fit the bill:

OUT: Kubel ABs (131 PAs in LF) (-1.1 WAR) + Willingham ABs (278 PAs) (0.8 WAR)

IN: 2 WAR LFer

+2.3 WAR

 

Let's assume Mauer is 1 WAR closer to his old self by this time next year (which would still be well under historic Mauer performance)

+1 WAR

 

OUT: Pino (0.8 WAR), Pelfrey (-0.6 WAR), Deduno (-0.1 WAR) innings

IN: Free Agent 3 WAR starter

+3 WAR

 

Platoon Arcia and Hicks in RF:

Arcia vs R as L = 121 wRC+ in 196 ABs :

This would be similar to Matt Joyce's production, which is 1.9 WAR in 438 PA with a similar defensive value = 0.434/100 PA

Hicks vs L as R = 145 wRC+ in 42 ABs, which, while a very small sample size, compares to Seth Smith = 2.7 WAR in 449 PA with a similar defensive value = 0.601/100PA

Call Arcia vs Hicks a wash defensively, for argument (even though surely Hicks will improve the outfield defense)

30% PAs in the league are vs. LHP, and players get around 650 PAs in a season, so divvy it up as 200 PAs for Hicks, and 450 PAs for Arcia.

 

Multiply their production rate by their plate appearances, and you'll get:
1.95 Arcia WAR + 1.202 Hicks WAR = 3.1 total WAR for platoon

Subtract 20% (guesstimate) to account for off-handed matchups (for example, when they are facing opposite-handed bullpen pitchers) = 2.5 WAR
I've already counted Herrmann + Parmelee RF ABs going to replacement level, so we have to not double count improving those plate appearances, so just remove Hicks' and Arcia's WAR
Subtract 0.4 Hicks + Arcia WAR this year for the Twins = +2.1 WAR, scaled to how far into the season we are now, for affect on current record (84.5%) =

+1.7 WAR

 

 

Let's also cancel out regressions of Hughes, Dozier, and Santana with improvements from Arcia, May, Gibson, and Nolasco.

 

Now, add it up:

60-77
+3
+3.7
+1
+2.3
+1
+3
+1.7
= 76-61 expected this time next year, by adding a 3 WAR starter, a 2 WAR left fielder, an Arcia/Hicks platoon, averaging out the luck, and getting rid of the dead weight from this year's roster.

 

How would you add more tweaks?


#2 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 03 September 2014 - 05:33 AM

You'd have to figure out a way to move some immovable contracts to pull that off in the pitchign world. I think you could argue that Millone, Nolasco, Gibson, and May will all improve as well.

I'm not a fan of platooning Arcia and Hicks. Both shoudl play every day, even if one is in Rochester.
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#3 Badsmerf

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Posted 03 September 2014 - 07:46 AM

Arcia shouldn't be platooned. He is too young and is starting to get it. Hicks, on the other hand, might be that 4th OF. He did hit ok in the minors this year, nothing that screams give me a shot. Look at what parmelee did in aaa and he hasn't shown too much. He might run out of chances in MN.
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Do or do not. There is no try.

#4 mike wants wins

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Posted 03 September 2014 - 07:54 AM

I did the same exercise last year.......I agree, if they sign a legit LF (um, you might want to re-think Cuddy as an option) and a legit SP, they can win 10-15 more games than this year, given they got rid of some terrible players.

 

Good luck with that.....this is the team that signed Kubel and Pelfrey and Bartlett last year, no purpose, and told fans that WE were stupid for caring about all 25 spots on the roster.....

Lighten up Francis....

#5 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 03 September 2014 - 12:09 PM

It's been brought up in several threads that the Twins defense is pretty bad and affects pitchers negatively. I have to think that's more in the OF than the IF as other than Plouffe (who's much improved), no one is really bad there. The same cannot be said in the OF, and only Arcia is slotted there. CF is a stop gap for Buxton, so I don't see anything other than a 1 year deal, but in LF, if they get someone on a longer deal, I'd probably want a decent defender. Just my 2 cents.

#6 iTwins

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Posted 03 September 2014 - 12:33 PM

I'm with you on the upgrades and where the Twins should focus and try to improve.

 

I'm not on board with platooning Arcia. Start the kid. Everyday. Let him play and grow. He's too young to give up on yet.

 

I'd like to see CF addressed either via Aaron Hicks finally figuring it out or picking up a 1 year fill in who can hold the job until Buxton arrives. (Heck, even if Hicks figures it out, they shoudl probably pick up a stop gap guy to serve as the 4th OF).

 

LF, I'm still holding out hope for Yasmany Tomas.

 

The rotation must be addressed. It's clearly the weak link to this team and without changes there, the whole ship keeps taking on water.

 

That being said, I think your premise is spot on - there's no reason to think that with a few tweaks this team can be on the verge of doing something in the near future.


#7 SwainZag

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Posted 03 September 2014 - 02:33 PM

I don't see why people view playing a Hicks/Arcia platoon is giving up on either of them.  Arcia has stuggled mightily with left handed pitching, much like a lot of powerful left handed hitters.  On the flip side Hicks has struggled even more hitting right handed pitching.  If a platoon split can give you better results why not?  You still have one one or the either on the bench to pinch hit.


#8 USAFChief

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Posted 03 September 2014 - 04:44 PM

You have Arcia, Hicks, FA LF guy, Replacement level Shafer all on the team, and havent named a CFer yet. The days of teams carrying 5 OFers are pretty much gone.
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Go Twins!


#9 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 03 September 2014 - 06:40 PM

You have Arcia, Hicks, FA LF guy, Replacement level Shafer all on the team, and havent named a CFer yet. The days of teams carrying 5 OFers are pretty much gone.

Five catchers, on the other hand...

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#10 TheLeviathan

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Posted 03 September 2014 - 06:46 PM

I think these improvements are all very reasonable, the problem is they don't account for likely regression. I do think 70-75 wins next year looks very possible with this roster and a bit of offseason aggression.

#11 mp_mn

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Posted 03 September 2014 - 07:18 PM

You have Arcia, Hicks, FA LF guy, Replacement level Shafer all on the team, and havent named a CFer yet. The days of teams carrying 5 OFers are pretty much gone.

 

Santana can play a hybrid backup infielder/starting CF role. Hicks or Arcia would be the traditional backup outfielder and pinch hitter player. If an injury happens in the infield, shift Santana down there, plug in Escobar wherever the injury occurred (or directly replace him with Santana if he gets injured), and play both Hicks and Arcia in the same outfield.

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#12 mp_mn

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Posted 03 September 2014 - 07:27 PM

I did the same exercise last year.......I agree, if they sign a legit LF (um, you might want to re-think Cuddy as an option) and a legit SP, they can win 10-15 more games than this year, given they got rid of some terrible players.

 

Good luck with that.....this is the team that signed Kubel and Pelfrey and Bartlett last year, no purpose, and told fans that WE were stupid for caring about all 25 spots on the roster.....

 

Melky is first on my list, but Cuddyer isn't a bad option. The left field free agent class is spotty at best, especially for guys who aren't trainwrecks in the outfield. Cuddyer has been fairly consistent offensively, is a right handed power guy, so even though it feels like another get-the-band-back-together choice, it's not nearly as bad as this year's free agent signings.

 

Come to think of it though, Cuddyer is hard of hearing in his left ear. Maybe sticking him in left won't be viable.

 

Any one we sign, though, must not be for more than 2 years so we don't have a logjam when Buxton shows up. That shouldn't be a problem with this crop of free agents, but signing even a Willingham-esque contract would do more harm than good, unless you're looking to flip them for prospects part-way through the deal.


#13 DocBauer

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Posted 03 September 2014 - 07:28 PM

Five catchers, on the other hand...


You might be on to something here!

What would it take, you think, to bring Butera back?

Herrmann has experience playing 3B in college, a little, and I thought I read in high school as well. Young and fairly athletic, with experience, it would seem natural. Butera behind the plate. (Also counts as an extra RP) Fryer runs pretty well, so he takes a corner OF spot. Mauer or Pinto could play 1B, with the other in the OF and Suzuki as a DH. To really mess with the opposition, you could even rotate the backstop between innings.

Too bad Wathan and Biggio are retired. Might give us our CF right there.

(Tongue and cheek both ache!)

"Nice catch Hayes...don't ever f*****g do it again."

 

--Lou Brown


#14 DocBauer

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Posted 03 September 2014 - 07:49 PM

Not a big math guy, though I generally follow the numbers and greatly appreciate the sentiment and work put in.

Also not big on WAR, possibly because some of its value still escapes me. I guess I feel that it's still hard to use it as a measurable "expectant" of players, their production, and ultimate wins and loses of a team. Too many variables in the course of a game and season. Example: a player hits well and has lots of XB hits but doesn't have many RBI. Is that lack of runners or does he simply produce hits and power when no-one is on base? A team plays solid defense and scores a bunch of runs but doesn't win. Does the staff stink? Or do the runs come in bunches and not in enough low scoring games to make a difference? Again, not sure I understand all the metrics involved.

I also wouldn't platoon the young and talented Arcia, but that doesn't mean he can't take off days against tough LHer's.

I believe we're actually seeing Mauer be Mauer again. And with any protection, and anyone providing decent production ahead of him, I look for a nice year from him next season. Especially with a 140-150 game season.

Experience, proven production, deepening the lineup, providing insurance and Lessing pressure for youngsters such as Arcia and Vargas, I still like a quality veteran in LF next season. I'm not opposed to Cuddyer. Healthy, I believe he can still play and produce at least more good year. I think Melky is a nice option. As could be Markakis. And I think there a few other reasonable options.

I think the rest of it is nurturing Plouffe, Hicks, Santana, Dozier and Escobar, amongst others, in an attempt to build on this year for next.

"Nice catch Hayes...don't ever f*****g do it again."

 

--Lou Brown


#15 The Wise One

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Posted 04 September 2014 - 04:37 AM

If you believe BABIP being random, a regression to the mean of the Twins BABIP coupled with the pitchers no longer here being the poor SO pitchers should significantly decrease the runs allowed dramatically.Of course the rest of the problems will be solved by trading Duensing for a starting LF. Or was that any 2 of Duensing, Swarzak and Pressly for a LF


#16 mike wants wins

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Posted 04 September 2014 - 07:14 AM

Except Cuddy hasn't been healthy in several years. Counting on that reversing seems like hope, not strategy to me.

Lighten up Francis....

#17 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 04 September 2014 - 07:20 AM

I think these improvements are all very reasonable, the problem is they don't account for likely regression. I do think 70-75 wins next year looks very possible with this roster and a bit of offseason aggression.

I think 70-75 wins would be a failure... Well, maybe not 75 wins but given that the Twins are currently on pace to win 71 games in 2014, anything under 75 is a failure IMO.


#18 mike wants wins

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Posted 04 September 2014 - 07:38 AM

I took the OP as getting to 75 wins by September, not by the end of the year.....though I'm not sure that's what Levi meant in his.

Lighten up Francis....

#19 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 04 September 2014 - 08:05 AM

I took the OP as getting to 75 wins by September, not by the end of the year.....though I'm not sure that's what Levi meant in his.

Ah, in that case 75 wins by 9/1 would be a resounding success (and probably mean a playoff berth). I'd be satisfied with a win total in the high 60s at the end of August. That means they'd be somewhere around .500, which I think is a realistic goal for next season.


#20 TheLeviathan

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Posted 04 September 2014 - 09:30 AM

I think 70-75 wins would be a failure... Well, maybe not 75 wins but given that the Twins are currently on pace to win 71 games in 2014, anything under 75 is a failure IMO.

 

Improvement next year is still likely to be minimal.  You might be right that I should've said 74-78, but there are still an awfully long list of regression candidates imbedded in that estimate.  

 

I don't expect a significant jump until the big four (Meyer, Berrios, Buxton, Sano) all have at least gotten their feet wet in the big leagues.

Edited by TheLeviathan, 04 September 2014 - 09:31 AM.


#21 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 04 September 2014 - 10:02 AM

Improvement next year is still likely to be minimal.  You might be right that I should've said 74-78, but there are still an awfully long list of regression candidates imbedded in that estimate.  

 

I don't expect a significant jump until the big four (Meyer, Berrios, Buxton, Sano) all have at least gotten their feet wet in the big leagues.

I mostly agree, I just think the win total will be closer to .500. Probably high 70s if a couple of things break right with Buxton and Sano.


#22 amjgt

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Posted 04 September 2014 - 10:24 AM

The Twins stand at 60-77 at the start of September. Let's improve that for 2015 with a few simple tweaks:

 

Baseball Prospectus puts the Twins 3rd order pythagorean win percentage at .458, which is a touch under 63 wins. Let's call that the current baseline for the talent level of the team.

+3 WAR

 

Kenny Vargas soaking up at-bats at DH that were earlier spent on Chris Colabello and Kendrys Morales does wonders:
OUT: Colabello PAs (-1.0 WAR in 220 PAs) +

OUT: Kendrys Morales PAs (-0.8 WAR in 162 PAs) +

OUT: Vargas' current production (0.5 WAR in 135 PAs, a 0.37 WAR/100PA rate)

IN: Vargas (0.37 WAR/100 PA in 517 PAs) = 1.91 WAR

1.91 WAR - (-1.8+0.5) =

+3.7 WAR +3.2WAR

 

 

You need to subtract Vargas' +0.5 WAR (Bolded), since you added it back in when you accumulated Colabello's, Morales', and Vargas' at bats.

 

In general, very nice job, though.


#23 spycake

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Posted 04 September 2014 - 11:42 AM

You need to subtract Vargas' +0.5 WAR (Bolded), since you added it back in when you accumulated Colabello's, Morales', and Vargas' at bats.

 

In general, very nice job, though.

Another math quibble -- you are counting the full WAR of your FA signings, but adding them to our expected Sep. 1st, 2015 record.  Those should be pro-rated to 5/6 or whatever.  Not a big deal, but should knock another win off.


#24 spycake

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Posted 04 September 2014 - 12:10 PM

Also note that this is NOT a median-type projection, but a very optimistic one.  Would basically equal the 2013 Indians and exceed the 2013 Royals, who were the darlings of baseball for their sudden, dramatic improvements.  It would also basically match or exceed the 2014 Astros and Marlins improvements, but both of those teams were starting from a lower baseline than the 2015 Twins so such improvements were relatively easier.

 

Further, perhaps the most likely of your suggested 2 WAR outfielders (Cuddyer) has not posted a 2 WAR season since 2009, according to B-Ref (he does fare a bit better at Fangraphs, although his yearly WAR average during that time period is only 1.4).

 

And who exactly did you have in mind as a 3 WAR starting pitcher?

 

Overall, I like the optimism, but I feel like this is mostly a repeat of similar exercises done here the past few offseasons.


#25 USAFChief

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Posted 04 September 2014 - 01:39 PM

Santana can play a hybrid backup infielder/starting CF role. Hicks or Arcia would be the traditional backup outfielder and pinch hitter player. If an injury happens in the infield, shift Santana down there, plug in Escobar wherever the injury occurred (or directly replace him with Santana if he gets injured), and play both Hicks and Arcia in the same outfield.

that will require having only one backup infielder, two catchers, and maintaining a 12 man pitching staff. I doubt they break camp with only 5 infielders plus Vargas, and doubt they can stick with 12 pitchers through the season.

Go Twins!


#26 stringer bell

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Posted 04 September 2014 - 03:24 PM

Two factors to staying at 12 pitchers:  Effectiveness of the starters is #1.  Since the Detroit series, only Hughes has given both quality and innings, the Twins need three effective starters (not necessarily the same three all year) to keep the bullpen down to seven. The other factor is flexibility.  Most AL teams have a shuttle between the AAA club and the big club, guys are being sent up or down 4-6 times.  The Twins' fifth starter and long men were locked in and couldn't be optioned (until Pino).  Hopefully next year they can have interchangeable pieces who can be moved in and out. 


#27 stringer bell

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Posted 04 September 2014 - 03:28 PM

Not a big believer in WAR.  With expected improvement from a future Hall of Famer and a 23 year old, the offense looks good enough.  Defense and pitching is a totally different matter.  Multiple starters have to step up and a number of bullpen arms need to come together all at once.  Still an unlikely combo.