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Article: Getting To 85

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#61 spycake

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 08:56 AM

 

Blyleven was 15-12 with a 4.01 ERA. Is that dominant?

Remember 1987 was a high-scoring year.  Blyleven's 4.01 ERA was much better than league average, good for a 115 ERA+, ranking 22nd in MLB among qualifiers. 2nd in games started, 4th in IP.  The W-L looks a lot better too when you consider the team was 23-14 in Blyleven's starts, I think Bert's trademark luck was on display in that regard. :)  He wasn't elite like Clemens or even Viola, but he was pretty darn good, and I wouldn't quibble with saying he was part of a "dominant pair" when paired with one of those guys.

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#62 spinowner

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 10:17 AM

 

Viola was awesome but what about 1987 Reardon separates him? 8-8 record and 4.48 ERA.   

He pitched much better down the stretch than in the first part of the season. And he was certainly far better at closing than Belisle is now, which was the point of my post.

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#63 Dantes929

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 10:17 AM

 

Remember 1987 was a high-scoring year.  Blyleven's 4.01 ERA was much better than league average, good for a 115 ERA+, ranking 22nd in MLB among qualifiers. 2nd in games started, 4th in IP.  The W-L looks a lot better too when you consider the team was 23-14 in Blyleven's starts, I think Bert's trademark luck was on display in that regard. :)  He wasn't elite like Clemens or even Viola, but he was pretty darn good, and I wouldn't quibble with saying he was part of a "dominant pair" when paired with one of those guys.

I guess I will quibble.  He kept teams in ball games and benefited from having a pretty good offense himself.  That is what the 23-14 record tells me.  Great value in that and there were times in his career that he was dominant.  I just don't think that he was that year and I didn't think it at the time.  I thought he was a good pitcher but there wasn't a playoff game  that he started where I thought we had a better than 50/50 chance of winning because he was going against pitchers as good or better, IMO. Viola was dominant and Blyleven was good.  Nothing wrong with that. I still believe good pitchers are capable of throwing great games. If you are going to call him dominant then we have at least two dominant pitchers on this current team. Berrios and Santana both have OPS+  north of 115

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#64 Dantes929

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 10:48 AM

 

He pitched much better down the stretch than in the first part of the season. And he was certainly far better at closing than Belisle is now, which was the point of my post.

Look at their monthly stats. Belisle has had a much better 2nd half of the season also. I'm not discounting Reardon's value but the reason for his value wasn't how good he was but how good he was compared to the other guys on the relief staff and how good he was compared to what they had the year before.  They had lost tons of games where they had led or were tied after 7 innings in 1986 so Reardon was extremely valuable because he was competent rather than that he was great.  Its why Berenguer was so valuable also.  And then yes,Reardon had a very good September. He was good but he still gave up runs and he still gave up leads. Its just that an 80% success rate was what that team needed. I also grant that the role was different but if that team had had a Kintzler, Belisle, Rogers and Hildenberg Reardon would not have stood out.

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#65 spycake

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 11:34 AM

 

If you are going to call him dominant then we have at least two dominant pitchers on this current team. Berrios and Santana both have OPS+  north of 115

That's fair.  I didn't jump into the discussion to pick on the current starters!  Just defending Bert's record that year.

 

Also, I read the comment as referring to the top 2 starters collectively as "dominant" in which case they are helped a lot by VIola's 159 ERA+ as compared to Ervin's 133 leading the way.  And if you consider "dominant" beyond just that single season, Blyleven came into 1987 with a career 125 ERA+, versus Ervin's career 103 mark as of today.  But it gets pretty subjective.

 

In any case, that analysis of 1987 isn't going to work for 2017 because of the changes in pitcher usage and expanded playoffs.  Even if Ervin and Berrios are approximate equivalents, I'd guess now you would need to look beyond 2 starters.


#66 Dantes929

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 01:47 PM

 

That's fair.  I didn't jump into the discussion to pick on the current starters!  Just defending Bert's record that year.

 

Also, I read the comment as referring to the top 2 starters collectively as "dominant" in which case they are helped a lot by VIola's 159 ERA+ as compared to Ervin's 133 leading the way.  And if you consider "dominant" beyond just that single season, Blyleven came into 1987 with a career 125 ERA+, versus Ervin's career 103 mark as of today.  But it gets pretty subjective.

 

In any case, that analysis of 1987 isn't going to work for 2017 because of the changes in pitcher usage and expanded playoffs.  Even if Ervin and Berrios are approximate equivalents, I'd guess now you would need to look beyond 2 starters.

Well, I would take the way Gibson is pitching right now over Les Straker even though I liked Straker.  I have often taken both sides on Blyleven based on whether I thought he was getting too much or too little credit for what he did. I jumped in on the needing two dominant starters part. Of course it helps to have great starters but there are a lot of ways to skin a cat and a lot of different cats to skin different ways.  I have read that you need home run hitters because the pitching is too good to have extended rallies by playing small ball and that you need two dominant starters to have a chance in the playoffs so what I really should have cited was the 2015 Royals. Now maybe they were an out flyer but I look at the 87 Twins that way also. There were arguably 8 or more teams that were better that year. They are the team I would always point to when giving the current team a chance. 91 was more legit.  That was just a solid team all the way around.  Anyway, playoffs are SSS. Its why guys like Billy Martin and Bucky Dent and Gene Larkin along with hundreds of other non stars have been playoff heroes.

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#67 spinowner

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 02:05 PM

 

4 teams would be kind of cool. I don't want the Twins to just win the WS. I want them to also set a record for most postseason wins in one year.

Sorry to break your heart about this but games played to break ties are part of the regular season. Any wild card team to win the WS will always have exactly 12 postseason wins.

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#68 gocgo

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 02:12 PM

 

Well, I would take the way Gibson is pitching right now over Les Straker even though I liked Straker.  I have often taken both sides on Blyleven based on whether I thought he was getting too much or too little credit for what he did. I jumped in on the needing two dominant starters part. Of course it helps to have great starters but there are a lot of ways to skin a cat and a lot of different cats to skin different ways.  I have read that you need home run hitters because the pitching is too good to have extended rallies by playing small ball and that you need two dominant starters to have a chance in the playoffs so what I really should have cited was the 2015 Royals. Now maybe they were an out flyer but I look at the 87 Twins that way also. There were arguably 8 or more teams that were better that year. They are the team I would always point to when giving the current team a chance. 91 was more legit.  That was just a solid team all the way around.  Anyway, playoffs are SSS. Its why guys like Billy Martin and Bucky Dent and Gene Larkin along with hundreds of other non stars have been playoff heroes.

One of the things that I've noticed this year about Rosario is that, while he certainly can tee off on the ball and sent it over the fence, there are times that he just flicks the bat and dumps one into the outfield. I think Polanco has that same ability to adjust their swing to the game circumstances.  Same with Esco, and to some extent, Buxton.

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#69 Dantes929

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 02:29 PM

 

Sorry to break your heart about this but games played to break ties are part of the regular season. Any wild card team to win the WS will always have exactly 12 postseason wins.

Most play in games to win a WS then?

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#70 Dantes929

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 02:35 PM

 

One of the things that I've noticed this year about Rosario is that, while he certainly can tee off on the ball and sent it over the fence, there are times that he just flicks the bat and dumps one into the outfield. I think Polanco has that same ability to adjust their swing to the game circumstances.  Same with Esco, and to some extent, Buxton.

Its why I think it is possible Rosario bunted on his own. I think he likes to think of himself as a complete player that has a lot of weapons. Of course it is fun to hit walk off home runs (I assume) but its a lot of fun to bunt for hits too. Polanco looks like he swings pretty hard to hit homers but Rosario and Buxton just seem to have a lot of natural power. I don't want any of them thinking they are home run hitters but rather good hitters that can sometimes hit home runs.

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#71 gil4

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 10:25 AM

 

You *can* buy the book with the breakdown, if you like.  1988 Baseball Abstract, pages 45-47.  I bet you could find a used copy for a couple bucks.

 

Some highlights:

 

W% top 2 pitchers:  .593

W% rest of team:  .491

Difference:  .102

Percentage of team wins from top 2:  38%

 

Historical difference between top 2 and rest of the staff:  .106  (87 Twins were better than average!)

Historical percentage of wins from top 2:  41%  (Twins had more wins from the non 1-2 than average!)

 

The 1908 Cubs are often considered the best team in MLB history.  The difference between their top 2 and rest of the staff:  .227.  The difference between .102 and .227 is substantial!

 

James doesn't stop there, he notes that every team has a weakness and he identifies the Twins weakness as missing a #3 pitcher. He does this by throwing away all wins by 1-2 pitchers for championship teams and finding the Twins were under .500 with the rest of the starters.  Although not unheard of (and the Twins were far from the worst), the difference maker then became the lack of a #3.

 

James concludes that the 1-2 v. the rest of the staff was "absolutely normal" for a championship team.  He goes on to state that the losing team, the 87 Cards, had 5 great starters but comparatively bad 1-2 starters!  The key to a championship is 2 dominant starters.

I had that book at one time - it didn't make the cut on one of my moves. 

 

Les Straker was the #3 starter, and in 154 innings his ERA+ was 106, which is above average.His W-L was only 8-10, and his SO/9 was an unsustainable 4.4, but I find it hard to believe he was the problem when you compare him to the disasters that attempted to fill the 4th and 5th starter slots.  

 

Any analysis based on W% of starters is flawed, and that was in the early days of baseball analytics. Straker was right in the middle of two groups of extremes, and if you lump him in with either group you will have a Sesame Street "one of these things is not like the other" situation."Throwing away all wins by 1-2 pitchers for championship teams", combining the stats of the rest of the starters, and then determining "the difference maker [for the '87 Twins] then became the lack of a #3" just isn't fair to Straker.  

 

I bet if you combined the top three starters for championship teams, the Twins would still be in the normal range for championship teams, but doubt very many championship teams gave 2/5 of their starts to a group of 4 guys who all were well below replacement level. (They combined for -2.9 WAR. Straker's WAR was 2.2)

Edited by gil4, 16 September 2017 - 10:27 AM.


#72 dbminn

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 11:13 AM

The key players on the 87 Twins were a bit older than the current version. Gagne was the youngest at 25 while the others were hitting their prime. Bruno was 26; Hrbek, Puck and Bush 27; Gaetti 28 and Gladden 29. At SP, Viola and Straker were 27. They were ready to take the opportunities the playoff opponents gave them.

 

IMHO, the current crop of youngsters are going to be better at the same ages. Of the core 7, Rosario is the oldest at 25. Buxton, Berrios and Polanco are 23. Even if they collapse this year, I'm really optimistic moving forward. A couple of acquisitions and good health are going to be key the next few years. 

 

As for 2017, I'm going to hope for "dumb" luck (or even smart luck) to carry a young and incomplete roster to the playoffs.

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#73 AlwaysinModeration

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Posted 18 September 2017 - 05:29 AM

If the Twins can finish the season 7-6 (to get to 85), the Angels would need to go 9-4 to tie them. Seattle would need to go 11-1, while KC and Texas would need to go 12-1.

Unless LA finishes the season (against strong competition) on a very strong run, it's starting to look like 84 wins may be enough to secure at least a tie for the last wild card spot

Need at least six wins...with Santana and Berrios each getting 3 more starts.
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#74 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 18 September 2017 - 09:43 AM

 

If the Twins can finish the season 7-6 (to get to 85), the Angels would need to go 9-4 to tie them. Seattle would need to go 11-1, while KC and Texas would need to go 12-1.

Unless LA finishes the season (against strong competition) on a very strong run, it's starting to look like 84 wins may be enough to secure at least a tie for the last wild card spot

Need at least six wins...with Santana and Berrios each getting 3 more starts.

Yeah, it's now down to the Angels and Twins and LA has a tough road ahead. The Twins likely only need six or so wins to advance to the WC game and they have seven games against Detroit during that stretch. They should be able to walk away from a depleted Detroit team with five wins, certainly no fewer than four wins.

 

If the Twins don't pull this off, they have no one to blame but themselves. They simply need to show up, play competitive ball, and this thing is likely over.

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#75 kellyvance

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Posted 18 September 2017 - 10:26 AM

 

The pitching staff as a whole, maybe. But 1987 had two legitimate strong starters and a legitimate strong closer. Santana is maybe as good as 1987 Blyleven but we don't have anyone as good as 1987 Viola nor as good as 1987 Reardon.

But it is not 1987. What we have are a bunch of young guys who got hot at the same time.  That is really important for a stretch run.  Ervin can handle the #1 role in the playoffs and is the least likely of our starters to get shelled. Berrios can pitch as well as a #2 and if he does, and the hitting stays hot, and Gibby keeps the ball in the park, we have a chance 


#76 Doomtints

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Posted 18 September 2017 - 10:39 AM

 

But it is not 1987. What we have are a bunch of young guys who got hot at the same time.  That is really important for a stretch run.  Ervin can handle the #1 role in the playoffs and is the least likely of our starters to get shelled. Berrios can pitch as well as a #2 and if he does, and the hitting stays hot, and Gibby keeps the ball in the park, we have a chance 

 

If the Twins make the playoffs, it will be as a WC against the Yankees, burning up their "ace" before they face Cleveland.

 

It is poetic that the team most likely to beat the Indians in the playoffs is the team that has Jaime Garcia, as marginal as he is, and how the Twins had him for a brief moment.

Edited by Doomtints, 18 September 2017 - 10:40 AM.


#77 AlwaysinModeration

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 05:17 PM

I don't think 85 will be necessary. The Angels just lost their 76th game, meaning they can max out at 86 wins. They need to go 9-1 to get to 85.

On the downside, the Twins will have to scramble to get to 85 too.

#78 AlwaysinModeration

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Posted 01 October 2017 - 08:57 PM

John, you wrote:

To go 11-8 down the stretch, this seems reasonable:[list]
[*]Win four of six this week versus the Padres and Blue Jays
[*]Win five of 10 on their upcoming road trip to Cleveland (one of three?), Detroit (three of four?), and Yankees Stadium (one of three?).
[*]Take two of three versus Detroit in the final home series of the year.

.....

Pretty good guess. They took 4 of 6 from from the first homestand, 5 on the road trip, and 2 of 3 from Detroit, and finished at 85. The only thin you had wrong was sweeping 4 at Detroit and losing all three in NY.

Now, before you go getting a big head...the Twins only needed to get to 81 to win the Wild Card, so the whole premise of the article was flawed.
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